by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP
When I began specializing in addiction treatment in 1985 I affiliated with the New Horizons outpatient network of providers. To my knowledge none of the original providers (nearly two dozen at one point) are still in practice. However, one newer practitioner works in Hawaii. Mark Turansky became involved some years after I left (to focus on the development of Practical Recovery). Mark and I met in 2014. I still appreciate many aspects of the New Horizons approach. In this article I focus on that approach and Mark’s activities.
To place any recovery approach in context, nothing works for everyone, and almost any approach will work for someone. The challenge to providers is matching services, approaches and options with individuals who might benefit from them.
Mark is the author of Figure It, Face It, Fix It: Your Surprising Solution to Addictions and Substance Abuse. Astonishingly, this book has 24 reviews on Amazon.com, all 5 stars! (I hope that by mentioning this fact I don’t bring that record to an end!).
My favorite part of this book is on pages 4-5:
“From time to time, I get calls from people who want an assessment to see whether or not they are an alcoholic. Some types of formal substance abuse assessments can be very costly and take several hours. I tell them we can do the assessment right now, right here, on the phone, free of charge! This makes them happy, and so we begin:
Me: “Okay, are you ready?”
Me: “Here is the first question: Do you drink?”
Me: “Does your drinking cause you problems?”
Me: “Okay, your assessment is over. You are a problem drinker. Let’s get started.”
There is often a chuckle on the other end of the line because they get my point. I tell them I don’t care about labels…”
The book includes New Horizons ideas I still review with clients: Even though you have reasons for changing, part of you wants not to change. Rather than telling that part of you that you “can’t use” it is better to acknowledge that you want to use. You are choosing to change (for good reasons), you are not changing because you “have to.” You are willing to tolerate the temporary discomfort that changing involves, for the sake of having a better life. In the process of developing that better life you will also identify and modify underlying issues, ones that helped give rise to and maintain problematic addictive behavior.
There are references to God in Chapter 3 that will not appeal to everyone, but seem likely to be helpful to someone who accepts them. Overall the approach is not religious in nature and does not require a belief in God.
Suppose you provided this self-empowering approach, and also practiced in Hawaii? You could run a treatment camp! Which is what Mark does, for one week at various times throughout the year. The next one begins January 23rd. Most treatment camps are for adults (7 scheduled in 2016). A teen camp is starting this year.
Will a camp like this replace residential substance abuse treatment? Not in most of the cases where residential treatment is a consideration. But to expand upon paragraph two above, not only will nothing work for everyone, nothing will work for most people either. We need a wide range of approaches.
I suspect that the chance to be in Hawaii (on the north shore of Oahu, on the beach, in a private room), at a cost much less than many residential facilities, having a day that alternates between an intensive focus on how to change and time to be outside, with an engaging leader like Mark (who provides both group and individual sessions), would be a very appealing option to someone who might not attend a more traditional rehab.
One important detail: As we all should, Mark does not view the camp as the final effort in change. Oahu residents receive unlimited aftercare.
Although Hawaii is incredible any time of year, in particular for the next few months referrers from around the lower 48 and Alaska might keep Mark’s treatment camp in mind. If it’s too far, you can always send them to San Diego.