• Seeking Out and Managing Discomfort

    Posted on September 17, 2021
    by Tom Horvath, PhD A well-lived life needs to have significant and possibly considerable amounts of discomfort in it. For instance, do you want to exercise well, maintain a certain weight, get up early, work hard at something, or hold your tongue in an intense discussion? You are likely to feel uncomfortable! The key, then, is to learn skills for managing discomfort that will inevitably come. You might also be interested in: Coping with Stress in Addiction Recovery In particular, if you want to stop an addictive problem, you are likely to have a transition period as you change how you live. Cravings might die off almost entirely after 90 days (although there is no guarantee they will completely), but other challenges might last much longer. Maybe you should just give up now? Fortu...
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  • America Celebrates the Drug War's 50th Anniversary

    Posted on July 2, 2021
    by Thaddeus Camlin, PsyD Let’s call a spade a spade.  The war on drugs is a euphemism for a war on personal freedom.  The hypocrisy inherent in a war on personal freedom in the self-proclaimed land of the free is more than a tad embarrassing (insert cringe emoji here).  The number of lives ruined with criminal scarlet letters and families torn apart because someone dared possess psychoactive compounds is beyond measure.  Even on the very day of writing this article a U.S. Olympian was kicked off the track and field team because she tested positive, not for a performance-enhancing drug, but for cannabis detected in her bodily fluids after she inhaled the plant’s smoke to ease the pain of the death of her mother.  This Independence Day, as America celebrates the passing of the drug war...
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  • Radical Acceptance

    Posted on June 4, 2021
    by Tom Horvath, PhD, ABPP Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) places a primary focus on improving distress tolerance. One of several tools DBT offers for tolerating distress is radical acceptance. The context of using any of the distress tolerance tools is the recognition that life will have distress, and that we need to learn how to bear up under it. Life is worth living even if it can be painful. DBT distress tolerance skills are designed to help us get through a crisis, but these tools benefit from practice in advance. These skills can help us accept the discomfort or pain that occur in a crisis, while preventing that discomfort or pain from rising to the level of suffering. Radical = “going to the root,” like a radish. Radical acceptance does not mean we approve of reality. ...
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  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): A Brief Overview

    Posted on May 21, 2021
    by Tom Horvath, PhD, ABPP Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an approach to psychotherapy designed for individuals who are highly emotionally sensitive, who struggle with depression and anxiety, and who may at times become suicidal. DBT tools, which focus on distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and mindfulness, can be helpful to anyone. You can remember these 4 categories as DIEM, as in carpe diem (seize the day). DBT is part of the larger family of CBT (cognitive behavior therapy). Marsha Linehan, a psychology professor emeritus at the University of Washington, Seattle, developed DBT as a result of coping with her own emotional problems. Linehan, born in 1943, revealed in her late 60’s the personal connection to her professional work. Distres...
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  • Dialectical Dilemmas

    Posted on May 7, 2021
    by Tom Horvath, PhD, ABPP Dialectical is a word with a long history (back to the Greeks), but for now let’s define it as “focusing or acting on the interaction of opposing forces or ideas.” Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) identifies and addresses three common dialectical dilemmas, in order to improve emotional self-regulation, one of the primary goals of DBT. DBT can be helpful for individuals in whom large and rapid emotional swings (e.g., from love to hate) are common, painful, and harmful. The first of the dialectical dilemmas involves being emotionally vulnerable (either at present, or over a lifetime as a result of being emotionally more sensitive than average), but then downplaying the intensity of emotions. Typical self-statements are “this won’t be that hard” or “I shou...
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  • Managing Interpersonal Boundaries, pt. II

    Posted on April 23, 2021
    by Tom Horvath, PhD, ABPP Interpersonal boundaries are part of the rules we establish about how we interact with other people. In this blog we focus on protecting ourselves from the outside. In a parallel blog we focused on keeping inside what needs to stay there. In both cases we can compare interpersonal boundaries to a house, which protects us from the outside, and keeps inside what needs to be there. We prevent violations to ourselves by establishing and managing boundaries. For instance, who can touch us and how, who can enter our living space and how far, whom we respond to online and whom we do not, whom we will accept advice from and whom we won’t, and so forth. The challenge often is that these boundaries need to be communicated and enforced, and communication and enforce...
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  • Managing Interpersonal Boundaries, pt. I

    Posted on April 9, 2021
    by Tom Horvath, PhD, ABPP Interpersonal boundaries are part of the rules we establish about how to interact with other people. We can compare interpersonal boundaries to being in a house. The house protects us from the outside, and on the inside we protect our warm or cool air, our possessions, and our privacy. Houses have walls, roofs, doors, windows, window coverings, pipes, wires, and vents, which allow us to be highly flexible about what comes in and what goes out. In this blog we focus on keeping inside what needs to stay in. In a parallel blog we focus on keeping outside what needs to stay out. In either case, I am the one ultimately responsible for managing the boundary. I need to be prepared for others who may not know or respect the boundary I have established. I need to kno...
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  • Drugs Don't Cause Addiction

    Posted on March 19, 2021
    by Thaddeus Camlin, PsyD Saying drugs cause addiction is like saying clouds cause tornadoes.  Tornadoes are caused by a complex combination of factors including warm, moist air, changes in wind direction and speed, and an unstable atmosphere decreasing in temperature rapidly with height.  Similarly, addiction is caused by a complex combination of factors, not drugs themselves.  Let us not forget, drugs are not even a necessary component of addiction, as addictive behaviors manifest in the absence of drugs with process addictions like gambling, video games, sex, food, social media, work, etc.   Just like tornadoes require an unstable atmosphere, addictions invariably grow from unstable, often traumatic environmental conditions.  Clouds don’t cause tornadoes, drugs don’t cause addictio...
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  • HBO's Euphoria TV Show Goes 0/2 on Addiction

    Posted on January 22, 2021
    by Thaddeus Camlin, PsyD [caption id="attachment_12950" align="alignright" width="500"] HBO's Euphoria misses the mark when it comes to addiction, again[/caption] The latest installment of HBO’s Euphoria is chock-full of harmful addiction myths and contradicting information.  The show’s main character, Rue, is a young and intelligent woman with a history of severe trauma.  Her father died young from cancer, she was drugged and nearly raped, and she was cheated on and heartbroken by her first true love.  Like many who experience horrible trauma, Rue found solace in substances like MDMA and opiates.  Like many who find solace from trauma in substances, Rue got a bit carried away.  Like many who get a bit carried away with substances, Rue experienced some negative consequences becaus...
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  • New Year's Resolutions & The Abstinence Violation Effect

    Posted on January 1, 2021
    by Thaddeus Camlin, PsyD The ‘us & them,’ ‘normies and addicts’ mentality continues to lose its stronghold in addiction theory.  The more addictive behaviors are recognized as a manifestation of normal human learning rather than diseased character defects and spiritual maladies, the better.  New Year’s resolutions, and their reputation for failure that often precedes them, offer yet another opportunity to highlight the universality of addictive behaviors.  New Year’s resolutions often fail because of a phenomenon of all-or-nothing thinking frequently referred to in the world of addiction as the ‘abstinence violation effect,’ where a single breach of a vow to change is viewed as failure and justifies absconding from the entire change attempt. Old habits die hard, new habits for...
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