• A Closer Look at the Rat Park Experiment, Part 3

    Posted on August 17, 2023
    By Kenneth Anderson, MA Part 1 reviewed some of the historical background which led up to the rat park studies. Part 2 reviewed the rat park studies themselves. Part 3 will look at where we have gone since. Follow-ups to Alexander's Rat Park Experiment The July 5, 1985 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study by Michael A. Bozarth and Roy A. Wise on the toxicity of heroin and cocaine in rats. Subjects were 23 male Long Evans rats. All 23 rats were housed in solitary confinement in laboratory cages and fitted with catheters so that they could self-inject drugs by pressing a lever. The rats were given unlimited access to the drugs for 30 days. Eleven rats were in the heroin group; all eleven learned how to self-inject heroin. The amount of her...
    full story
  • A Closer Look at the Rat Park Experiment, Part 2

    Posted on July 27, 2023
    A Closer Look at the Rat Park Experiment, Part 2 By Kenneth Anderson, MA Part 1 reviewed some of the historical background which led up to the rat park studies. Part 2 reviews the rat park studies themselves. Part 3 will take a look at where we have gone since. Bruce K. Alexander's first rat park study was published in 1978. The subjects were 32 albino Wistar rats (18 males and 14 females). After weaning, 10 of the rats (six males and four females) were placed in solitary confinement in standard laboratory cages. Twenty-two of the rats (12 males and 10 females) were placed in rat park. Rat park was an open-topped plywood box with 95 square feet of floor space covered in sawdust where rats could play, fight, and have sex with each other just like they did in their natural enviro...
    full story
  • Preaddiction - A Helpful Term?

    Posted on June 15, 2023
    by Tom Horvath, Ph.D. Would the term “preaddiction” be helpful? The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) jointly issued a Request for Information on this term. The details of the Request are at the very bottom. Below is what I sent them (slightly edited): ** What would a better term be? Addiction (and thereby, preaddiction) is an undesirable term because it is used by many in an all-or-none fashion, or to denote a state of disease (leaving out those who view these disorders as primarily behavioral). Consequently, preaddiction is also undesirable. I believe that eliminating the terms addiction and preaddiction will greatly reduce stigma, because these terms are used to divide people into two groups (addicted, n...
    full story
  • Coping With Worry

    Posted on May 18, 2023
    by Tom Horvath, PhD It seems that almost everyone worries at times. We can think about a problem over and over and not make any progress. Ineffective strategies for worry include telling ourselves to “just stop,” and looking for guarantees or certainty when they are not available. Very little is guaranteed in life, and yet somehow we keep moving forward. Worry can be considered a problem-solving effort that is not working well because we are focused on the wrong parts of the problem. Most problems have aspects that 1) can be dealt with now or cannot be dealt with until later; 2) are under our control or not under our control; and 3) are more important or less important. If you focus your thinking on aspects of a problem that can only be dealt with later, are out of your control, o...
    full story
  • Improving Our Language About Addictive Problems, Pt. I

    Posted on January 17, 2023
    By Tom Horvath, PhD I recommend the term “addictive problems” to replace several other similar terms, and no longer using the term “recovery,” which has several better alternatives depending on context. In this two-part series on improving the language about addictive problems, part 1 will focus on addictive problems, and part 2 will focus on “recovery.” The diagnostic manual, DSM5-TR, identifies 10 categories of substance problems. The substances are alcohol, caffeine, cannabis, hallucinogens, inhalants, opioids, sedative/hypnotics/anxiolytics, stimulants, tobacco, and “other.” There is also one category of activity problems (gambling). There are 11 criteria (9 for gambling) which identify common consequences which can arise from substance use. The consequences manifest themselve...
    full story
  • A Guide to Finding Outside Assistance for Addictive Problems

    Posted on December 8, 2022
    By Tom Horvath, PhD, ABPP   Am I an “alcoholic” or “addict?” Do I “need help?” If so, what kind? If you are asking one or more of these questions, this blog is for you!   A somewhat out-of-date but nevertheless helpful federal publication considers these questions. Although this NIAAA (National Institute Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) document is focused on alcohol problems, many of its ideas can also be applied to other addictive problems. In this blog I will attempt to improve upon and expand their ideas. In my opinion NIAAA 1) focuses too much on treatment and not enough on the individual choosing or considering change, 2) does not alert the reader about the serious problems that can arise in treatment, and 3) is not up-to-date on the finding that AA specifica...
    full story
  • Addiction in Family and Social Systems

    Posted on November 4, 2022
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. An underemphasized area in the disease model of addiction is the role of environmental factors.  Genetics and sensationalized hijackings of the midbrain are certainly factors in the development of problematic addictive behaviors, but they are overemphasized at the expense of family and social factors.  The disease model paints addiction as an individual problem and gives family dynamics and societal norms a get out of jail free card, so no wonder it maintains its stronghold as the dominant theory - everybody other than the identified addict gets to point their finger from a holier than thou position of moral superiority and save themselves from the discomfort of identifying and addressing their own issues. Addiction and Family Systems Family roles (e.g. t...
    full story
  • Rat Park Revisited

    Posted on April 29, 2022
    By Tom Horvath, PhD Not exactly: I’m reporting about a presentation by Professor Bruce Alexander, the creator of “rat park,” given on 4/19/22, for the Addiction Theory Network, based in the UK. The webinar was: Retiring the Brain Disease Model of Addiction. And Then What? Rat Park Recap Rat Park, if you are not familiar with it, was his groundbreaking research showing that when rats are given a stimulating environment they will NOT die from self-administering various substances (e.g., cocaine, heroin). However, they will die from self-administration in a barren cage where the only choices are food/water and substances. Further, if you take rats stuck in those barren cages and then place them in rat park, they will again engage in normal rat activities and no longer have substance p...
    full story
  • Sage Money Podcast - Interview with Dr. Horvath

    Posted on February 4, 2022
    Sage Money Conversations with Barbara Norman, CFP® - Interview with Dr. Tom Horvath Episode 010: Dealing With Family Addiction Addiction can be financially devastating, it can destroy a life, and it can tear a family apart. It’s common for individuals with addictive problems to attend several expensive treatment programs, with little lasting progress. In this revealing episode, Dr. Tom Horvath reveals some of the problems with traditional approaches to treatment, and he offers alternative ways to treat addictive problems, talk with our loved ones, and create a happier home life. Dr. Horvath, author of Sex, Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate: A Workbook for Overcoming Addictions, has specialized in addictive problems since 1985.  He is a California licensed (PSY7732) and board-...
    full story
  • A Courageous Statement from Dr. Volkow

    Posted on January 7, 2022
    by Tom Horvath, PhD There is no more important person to the addiction treatment and recovery field than Nora D. Volkow, MD. Dr. Volkow is the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). In the US government’s fiscal year 2021 NIDA spent about $1.4 billion, primarily on research. By comparison, the budget for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is only about $500 million. A substantial portion (if not the majority) of the world’s addiction research is funded under Volkow. The Statement from Dr. Volkow: Consequently, when Volkow speaks, people listen. Maybe more so than ever now: “Making Addiction Treatment More Realistic And Pragmatic: The Perfect Should Not Be The Enemy Of The Good” https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/forefront.20211221.6918...
    full story