• How to Provide Basic Addiction Treatment

    Posted on December 11, 2018
    by Tom Horvath, PhD., ABPP This blog is addressed to psychotherapists who do not view themselves as capable of providing addiction treatment. Many (if not most) therapists have this perspective. However, as I have suggested for many years, individual therapy (possibly supplemented by couple’s and family therapy) is the setting of choice for most individuals with addictive problems, and therapists should learn to address these problems. Unfortunately, many therapists lack the confidence even to learn about addiction treatment. Therapists already know most of what they need to know for basic addiction treatment. They also need some basic information about addiction and recovery. In an effort to boost the confidence of these therapists, below are the principles they would keep in min...
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  • Addiction is Learning, Not Disease

    Posted on November 16, 2018
    by Thaddeus Camlin, PsyD New England Journal of Medicine Article Says: Addiction is Learning, Not Disease One of the world’s most prestigious journals just published an article saying that addiction is not disease.  Not surprisingly, an uproar is underway.  Devotees to the disease model of addiction are not happy, but sometimes the truth hurts.  The article in the New England Journal of Medicine is a major step towards improving the standard of care in addiction treatment and deepening our understanding of the true nature of addictive behaviors. Including and Transcending the Disease Model of Addiction The article in the New England Journal of Medicine, written by Marc Lewis, Ph.D., does a masterful job of presenting the current state of the evidence about the etiology and maintenan...
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  • Person-First Language in Addiction Treatment is Long Overdue

    Posted on October 5, 2018
    By Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Mental health professions are big on person-first language, and rightly so.  Defining people by their problems is widely agreed upon to be below the standard of care.  People are much more than their diagnoses, and thus, mental health professions now routinely opt for descriptions like, ‘a person with schizophrenia’ rather than, ‘a schizophrenic,’ or ‘a person with borderline personality’ rather than ‘a borderline.’  As sensitivity to mental health issues grew in recent years and person-first language became the standard of care, one notable category of diagnoses was conspicuously left behind: substance use disorders. Addiction Treatment and Double Standards While the frequency of hearing a psychologist say something like "he’s a schizophrenic" continues ...
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  • A Mirror for The Language of Addiction

    Posted on October 13, 2017
    Using Treatment Jargon to Describe Treatment By Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. The insulting, dehumanizing rhetoric of the addiction ‘treatment’ industry never ceases to amaze and dishearten.  People who are hurting and vulnerable are called manipulative, junkie liars so often that such language is widely accepted and implemented in treatment settings by so-called professionals.  What if we fought fire with fire and the same critical, cruel language used to ‘shame addicts into change’ was mirrored back to describe the addiction treatment industry?  Well, let us indulge the imagination a bit and give the addiction treatment industry a taste of its own medicine… (Note: the following is not intended to be a true representation of addiction treatment, it is merely an imaginative exercise to...
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  • Addiction and Society: Snowflakes and a Culture of Outrage

    Posted on June 23, 2017
    Snowflakes and Addiction: A Culture of Outrage by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. In today’s culture of outrage everything seems to be offensive to someone.  The term ‘snowflake’ is generally viewed as derogatory and refers to people who are entitled, genuinely distressed by ideas that run contrary to their worldview, and carry an inflated sense of their own uniqueness.  Fair or not, millennials are increasingly referred to as the snowflake generation.  Some argue that “snowflakes” are created by “helicopter parents,” who tiptoe around the sensitivities of their children and shield them from the realities of life.  With much still unknown about the implications of insulating oneself from the discomfort of encountering competing ideas, one question worth asking is:  “Is there a relationship ...
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  • Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt. 6: Happiness

    Posted on April 14, 2017
    Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt. 6: Happiness by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. The final topic of our in-depth exploration of each core emotion is happiness.  Happiness is the most pleasurable, desired, pursued, elusive, mercurial emotion of all.  If happiness is so pleasurable and desired then it can’t be a reason people use drugs, right?  Wrong.  People often use drugs to both achieve and sustain happiness and the drugs work, sort of.  As Tolstoy astutely observed, there appear to be many more ways not to be happy than there are ways to be happy.  Drugs are one method people employ to feel happy.  Therefore, understanding happiness is vital to understanding addiction. Did you miss part 5 of this series? Learn about the relationship betwee...
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  • Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt. 5: Fear

    Posted on April 7, 2017
    Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt: 5: Fear by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. This week fear is the topic that continues our in-depth exploration of each core emotion. Why do people use drugs?  Often times, people use drugs to assuage fear and alleviate anxiety.  In healthy doses, many researchers consider fear to be the most vital and motivating emotion.  In excessive doses, fear fuels much dysfunctional, disabling, and destructive behavior. Missed last week's post? Learn about the relationship between addiction and disgust here. Normal, healthy fear prepares and empowers us.  Physiologically, fear arouses muscle tension, perspiration, stomach butterflies, and dry mouth.  Fear primes the release of adrenaline and readies us to run, fight, o...
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  • Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt. 4: Disgust

    Posted on March 31, 2017
    Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt. 4: Disgust by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. This week disgust is the topic that continues our in-depth exploration of each core emotion.  Believe it or not, disgust is often an answer to the question, ‘why do people use drugs?’  Disgust is the most generalizable of the core emotions (stepping on an earthworm when barefoot is almost universally experienced as disgusting).  When disgust is self-directed it forms the core of many emotional and psychological disturbances.  Despite its universality and significance in wellbeing, disgust is the most under-researched core emotion. Missed pt. 3 of this series? Learn more about the link between sadness and addiction here. In evolutionary terms, disgust evolved to ...
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  • Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt. 3: Sadness

    Posted on March 24, 2017
    Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Sadness and Addiction by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. This week sadness is the topic that continues our in-depth exploration of each core emotion.  If you ever wonder, ‘why do people use drugs?’ sadness is often an answer.  Many of the most painful emotions (e.g. grief, bereavement, mourning) and debilitating disorders (e.g. major depression) are rooted in sadness.  Humans often put forth valiant efforts to avoid and ward off sadness and its related emotions.  However, sadness is not inherently negative and efforts to avoid it are often destructive because sadness is crucial to the human experience. Did you miss part 2 of this series? Explore the relationship between anger and addiction here. Sadness generally features an appraisal...
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  • Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt. 2: Anger

    Posted on March 17, 2017
    Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt. 2: Anger by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. For the first in-depth look at each core emotion we begin with anger.  Few would object that anger is one answer to the question, ‘why do people use drugs?’  Anger tends to conjure potent associations like violence, hatred, and destruction, but anger is not all bad.  Sometimes substance use helps suppress and manage anger, other times substance use helps facilitate the release of anger.  Anger and substance use certainly have a storied history (stereotypes of ‘angry drunks’ are abundant).  This article investigates the nature of anger and its relationship to substance use. Missed last week's article? Learn more about the relationship between substance use and emotion...
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