• 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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  • Harm Reduction Tips from the Experts

    Posted on April 10, 2020
    by Thaddeus Camlin, PsyD Leading harm-reduction experts, April Smith and Kenneth Anderson, recently released an article outlining harm-reduction tips for safer drinking amidst shelter-in-place restrictions.  Many are choosing to abstain entirely, others, not so much.  Many, many industries are hit hard by the societal shutdowns, however, the adult beverage industry is not one of them.  Alcohol sales are up, way up, during the COVID-19 crisis.  Nothing like heroic doses of uncertainty and boredom to drive one to drink!  For those who may be struggling to adhere to their drinking goals, Smith & Anderson offer tips to help maximize drinking safety. Lack of structure is one of the biggest challenges many people face in the era of shelter-in-place.  With external structure no longe...
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  • 5 Ways of Coping with Isolation

    Posted on March 27, 2020
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. As the late, great Jim Morrison crooned, strange days have found us.  As millions adjust to social life filtered almost exclusively through the cold, unforgiving pixilation of digital screens, the need for genuine connection is more intense than ever.  Below are five ways of coping with isolation that do not involve more screens and may be helpful amidst these strange days that have tracked us down. You might also be interested in: Why Do People Use Drugs? 1. Phone Calls Phone calls rather than facetime, skype, zoom, whatever, eliminate the visual element.  There’s nothing like real-time visual feedback of ourselves to distract us and heighten our insecurities.  Pacing around a living room while talking on the phone can help free the mind.  Feeling mor...
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  • Drug & Alcohol Cravings: 10 Useful Methods to Cope

    Posted on August 31, 2018
    Coping with drug and alcohol cravings is a major component of changing problematic addictive behavior, so much so that the DSM5 added craving as a diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders.  It is next to certain that any change in habitual behavior will at some point result in urges or cravings for the old behavior.  Who hasn't experienced a craving for something salty or sweet when trying to eat healthier?  Below we discuss 10 tried and true methods that help people manage drug and alcohol cravings. 1. Set a Timer Urges tend to run out of steam after 30-45 minutes, setting a timer for a ½ hour can help to ride out the urge.  Think of cravings as sprinters, they are intense but run out of steam pretty quickly. 2. Distract Yourself from the Craving Do something that requires f...
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  • How "Triggers" Steal Your Freedom in Recovery

    Posted on September 16, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Much is being said about changing the nomenclature in the treatment of problematic substance use.  The latest diagnostic manual (DSM-5) no longer uses the term ‘addiction.’  Anne Fletcher wrote about the value of cleaning up the language of addiction using powerful comparisons to other avenues of treatment.  She astutely pointed out that no therapist would tell people trying to lose weight that no progress would be made until they labeled themselves in a pejorative way.  Can you imagine a therapist telling someone who is overweight that before work can begin she or he must identify as a fat pig?  To do so would be unconscionable.  Yet, it is all but universal in the treatment of problematic substance use that an individual is told that no progress will be m...
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  • 9 Reasons Not to Drink or Use During the Holiday Season

    Posted on December 18, 2015
    Need some extra reasons not to drink or use this holiday season? We've got you covered with these 9 benefits of staying sober. Print out the list and hang it up at home, keep it in your purse or pocket when you go out, or just take a mental note to remind yourself why you're not giving into the urge this season. 1. No Embarrassing Behavior Drinking and using too much can bring out our wild side. Skip the table dancing at the company party, the brawl at the bar, passing out at the parents' house or the number of other embarrassing things we do when intoxicated and celebrate the dignity of maintaining control this year. Your future self will thank you! 2. Build Your Confidence in Your Ability to Pass Up Drugs and Alcohol Take on the challenge of saying no during this time of indulgenc...
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  • Craving Happens, But You Choose Your Response

    Posted on December 11, 2015
    From Page 148 of "Sex, Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate: A Workbook for Overcoming Addictions," by Dr. Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP The occurrence of craving itself is beyond your control. There is no single act that can with certainty eradicate all future craving. There are steps that can influence its occurrence... but ultimately craving will show up when it shows up. What you do have full control over is what to do about craving. To reiterate a crucial point, if you think of a strong enough reason not to act on the craving, then you won't, and in time that craving and all craving will go away. For tips on coping with cravings, browse our blog!  
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  • 3 Facts About Urges You Really Need to Know

    Posted on November 6, 2015
    Originally posted July 25, 2014 Urges (cravings) are a normal and expected part of quitting an addictive substance or behavior. They can be uncomfortable and intense. It takes a commitment to deal with them without giving in. However, here are some facts about urges that are helpful to keep in mind: 1. Urges are time-limited—Urges typically go away within minutes. No matter how uncomfortable an urge may feel, it is only temporary. 2. Urges are not harmful—Although they may be anxiety-producing and unpleasant, urges cannot cause physical harm. 3. Urges do not force you to drink/use—When you experience an urge, you still have a choice about whether to use or not. The urge will go away, whether or not you do. So when an urge strikes, try to keep it in perspective. Remember tha...
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  • Craving Is Not Dangerous

    Posted on August 14, 2015
    from Sex, Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP Chapter 9 of Dr. Horvath's book: Sex, Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate: A Workbook for Overcoming Addictions helps readers understand craving. We've included here the section, "Craving Is Not Dangerous." Besides fearing the discomfort of craving, some individuals fear that the state of craving itself is somehow dangerous or harmful. Perhaps if I experience a craving long enough, I will go crazy, or run screaming from where I am, or do something really embarrassing? In Chapter 7 I noted that the best predictor of the future is the past. How much damage has a craving actually done to you? By comparison, how much damage have you feared? The danger of craving is that it increases the possibility of engaging in...
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  • Coping With Craving: The Timer Technique

    Posted on July 10, 2015
    In his book, Sex Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate: A Workbook for Overcoming Addictions, Dr. Horvath discusses the use of a timer to cope with cravings. We’ve included the following excerpt so you can practice this technique, starting today! While this technique might also be considered a distraction technique, active distraction is not used. You can use the timer technique for a craving of any strength. When you experience a craving, set the timer for an amount of time you are very confident you won’t act on the craving. For instance, if you are confident you can withstand the experience of the craving, however you do it, for at least 3 minutes, then set a timer for 3 minutes. While the timer is on, begin doing other activities. When the timer goes off, there is a good chance that th...
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