• 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...
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  • Psychedelic Diaries - Interview with Dr. Horvath

    Posted on February 11, 2022
    Psychedelic Diaries, Episode 3: Interview with Tom Horvath, PhD, ABPP "Psychedelic Diaries," a podcast hosted by Ray Christian, has nearly 30 episodes (each an interview). Dr. Horvath was the third interviewee. The podcast describes itself as offering: "Experts from the world of medicine talk about mental health, mystical experiences, and the psychedelic renaissance. The show features news and discussion on how psychedelics affect our mind and the world around us." This 3 minute video has excerpts from each of the five initial experts interviewed. Dr. Horvath, in the excerpt, speaks about the value of a psychedelic experience as a "pattern interrupter." In the full interview he elaborates on that concept and his own (unfortunately disappointing) experience doing ayahuasca fou...
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  • Undoing Drugs - a Review by Tom Horvath, Ph.D.

    Posted on December 2, 2021
    Undoing Drugs: The Untold Story of Harm Reduction and the Future of Addiction, by Maia Szalavitz Review by A. Tom Horvath, PhD The harm reduction approach to addressing addictive problems has until recently been highly controversial, at least in the US. Treatment and other change efforts in the US have been primarily guided by the views that addiction is a disease and that the 12 steps are the primary (or only) method for change. Harm reduction accepts and encourages small steps toward change. The US approach has typically required an immediate and large change, often involving a completely new perspective: “I’m an addict, I have a disease, I will abstain from everything forever.” The small steps approach of harm reduction, even though it describes how most human change occurs, has ...
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  • Ending Stigma

    Posted on November 16, 2021
    By Tom Horvath, PhD Addiction professionals say they're working toward ending stigma surrounding addiction, but they also tend to promote addiction as a disease. These activities are contradictory. By promoting addiction as a disease they play into the general tendency to perceive in-groups (“normies”) and out-groups (those with the disease). Instead of emphasizing that “addiction is a chronic brain disease” or “treatment works,” the following ideas, depending on the context, would make much more helpful and less stigmatizing messages: You might also be interested in: The Stigma of Addiction and the Inadvertent Contribution of the Recovery Community 1. Addictive problems range from very mild to very severe. 2. Most addictive problems are not in the severe or very severe range. ...
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  • The Self-Empowering Approach

    Posted on October 22, 2021
    by Tom Horvath, PhD Practical Recovery and SMART Recovery both use the self-empowering approach for resolving addictive problems. This approach contrasts with the powerlessness-based approach of AA and other 12-step groups, at least on the surface. Both approaches begin with the person considering change, and then deciding to change (at least to some degree). Both approaches can be effective, but one may work better for specific individuals. The powerlessness-based approach is described in AA’s 12 steps. In the first step you admit you are “powerless over alcohol.” In the third step there is “a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” This approach can be described as serenity (as used in the Serenity Prayer, and also as “letting go” o...
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  • Understanding Shame

    Posted on September 30, 2021
    by Tom Horvath, PhD If guilt is the bad feeling I get after doing “something wrong,” then shame is the bad feeling I get about being myself. Shame might arise along with guilt (“I’m not good enough, and a bad person, for doing something that terrible”). However, shame might arise by itself. In the extreme I might think “I do not even have the right to exist. I’m so bad and foul and awful that I don’t deserve to belong to the human race. I should not be allowed to have the air I breathe, the food I eat, and the time and attention I get from others.” Understanding Shame vs. Guilt Simply stated, guilt is about what I did. Shame is about who I am. When I behave wrongly or badly, and feel guilt or regret, there are often ways I can resolve these feelings: Make it up to someone, apologiz...
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  • Managing External Boundaries

    Posted on September 24, 2021
    by Tom Horvath, PhD When we talk about having boundaries, we can talk about managing external boundaries and we can talk about managing internal boundaries. This blog will discuss the management of external boundaries. To better understand external boundaries, it helps to understand the concept of interpersonal boundaries. Interpersonal boundaries are the rules we establish for ourselves about how we interact with other people. We can compare interpersonal boundaries to having a house. The house, with roof and walls, protects us from the outside, and keeps our possessions together. But there are also doors, windows, window coverings, pipes, wires, vents, and so forth, which allow us to be flexible about what comes in and what goes out. In this blog we focus on protecting ourselves fr...
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  • 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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  • Cannabis-Induced Psychosis is No Reason to Keep Pot Illegal

    Posted on July 30, 2021
    by Thaddeus Camlin, PsyD As cannabis crawls toward federal legalization, the 11th hour panic push is in on.  Last week saw the introduction of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which seeks to federally legalize cannabis in the U.S.  For those opposed to legalizing cannabis, ‘cannabis-induced psychosis’ and ‘ultra-high potency THC products’ are the buzz words working most effectively to enliven the embers of cultural pot fears.  Cannabis-induced psychosis is something to take seriously, as are ultra-high potency THC products, but neither is a reason to keep pot illegal. You might also be interested in: Drugs Don't Cause Addiction Cannabis-induced psychosis (CIP) refers to an individual experiencing delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, or grossly abnorma...
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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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