• Getting a Fresh Start in the New Year

    Posted on December 27, 2023
    By Tom Horvath, PhD Although you can embark on a new habit at any time of year, the New Year remains a popular starting time! Here are some suggestions on how to maximize your project. Decide whether to start small or start “big.” Even though your end point may evolve over time, decide at the beginning what your endpoint is (and write it down). If you start small, build over time. What is the smallest step you are confident you can consistently take? Then wait until that pattern is well established and add another step. This approach may be more realistic and comfortable than starting big. If you start big you will definitely need to prepare in advance. Do you have the items you need (e.g., exercise clothes, a new shopping list, a well-practiced breathing technique that you ...
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  • Listening at Thanksgiving (or any time)

    Posted on November 16, 2023
    By Tom Horvath, PhD The Thanksgiving dinner table will provide many opportunities for conversation, and perhaps nearly as many opportunities for disagreements and fights. That level of tension can easily motivate us to overuse substances! Let’s look at some ways to prevent the tension from getting that high. Tips for Listening at Thanksgiving Is it essential that you provide your opinion? If you are talking with someone whose opinion (based on your experience with them) is unlikely to be open to examination, stating your different opinion will likely not lead to a meaningful conversation, and could lead to a fight. Instead, you could say “You have very strong feelings on this subject.” If someone holds forth at length (and perhaps in a way you have already listened to before...
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  • The Holiday Season Begins

    Posted on October 27, 2023
    By Tom Horvath, PhD With Halloween parties starting this weekend, the holiday season begins. That season will continue through Thanksgiving, multiple holiday celebrations near the end of the year, New Years, and then on to the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day. Including work, family, and other social events, you could be invited to a dozen or more events during the holiday season. If you are intending to stop or reduce your substance use, especially alcohol, for the next 3-4 months your work is cut out for you! I often feel especially sympathetic for someone who aims to start such a project at just this time. On the other hand, when next year arrives, you will have been through it already, and perhaps won’t dread the holiday season when it arrives. What might you keep in mind to ...
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  • Setting Boundaries During the Holidays

    Posted on December 27, 2022
    Boundaries are difficult. Figuring out what your own wants, needs, and limits are can sometimes be hard enough. And then we must figure out a way to communicate our wants, needs and limits to someone else who may have a history of pushing them. Now add on top of that the stress, overwhelm, and sometimes chaotic nature of the holiday season, and it makes sense that this time of year is one of the hardest in terms of setting and maintaining boundaries.   If you have a family member, or loved one who is struggling with substance abuse, or additional mental health disorders that may be affecting the way that they show up- setting boundaries during the holidays is essential. Sometimes it can be difficult to hold space for the awareness of your loved one’s struggle with substance a...
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  • Sparks of Hope for the Holidays

    Posted on December 18, 2020
    by Thaddeus Camlin, PsyD Sparks do not burst from a vacuum, they are incandescent blasts from intense heat and friction.  The famous Christmas Carol ‘Feliz Navidad’ was back in the headlines recently celebrating its 50th anniversary.  Most stories talked about the song-writing process of its creator, José Feliciano, as one of magical ease, a spark of hope and inspiration.  The magical spark storyline fits, given that 'Feliz Navidad' contains only 19 words, was written in ten minutes, and recorded in one take.  What is missed in the magical story of Feliz Navidad’s inception is the backdrop of toil, perseverance, sacrifice, and hardship in the life of the songwriter that constituted the rich soil from which the Christmas Carol gem burst forth. Feliciano was born in Puerto Rico in 1...
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  • Family Communication: Be PIUS This Holiday Season

    Posted on December 4, 2020
    By Thaddeus Camlin, PsyD Holidays are ripe with tales of family gatherings gone sour.  Many families anticipate disruptive antics from at least one family member, maybe more.  As the beloved Lion King character, Zazu, memorably proclaimed about rabble-rousing kin, there’s one in every family, two in mine actually!  Whether there are one, two, or 10 family rascals to navigate this holiday season, SMART Recovery offers effective tips for family communication to help maximize enjoyable interactions with loved ones. The SMART acronym PIUS outlines four core communication skills.  The ‘P’ stands for positive communication.  Before anyone jumps to ‘captain obvious’ critiques about how much of a no-brainer it is to try to communicate positively, let’s take more than a passing, dismis...
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  • Cultivating Gratitude for Thanksgiving 2020

    Posted on November 20, 2020
    by Thaddeus Camlin, PsyD Gratitude tends to be hard-earned.  When life’s complexities converge and we endure a series of painful complications, gratitude may seem like a fool’s errand at precisely the time when it is most needed.  Thanksgiving reminds us, no matter our circumstances, to pause and appreciate.  Nestled amidst a global pandemic, this iteration of our annual holiday of thanks may be a strange and creative version of our usual traditions.  The felt experience of true gratitude may be elusive amidst uniquely trying times.  What follows are some considerations for how to cultivate gratitude for Thanksgiving 2020 (spoiler alert: it's a not a matter of '5 easy ways to be grateful,' there are no shortcuts or drive-thru paths to true gratitude). Gratitude is not the most nat...
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  • Holiday Tips: Seven Secrets for Successful Holidays

    Posted on December 20, 2019
    Holiday Tips Navigating the holidays can be tough.  The holidays can also be wondrous and joyful.  As we put 2022 in the books and look ahead to a new year, a few last minute tricks might be useful as the heart of the holidays hits home. Below are some holiday tips to help make the most wonderful time of the year, well, wonderful.   You might also be interested in: 6 Exit Strategies for Uncomfortable Holiday Situations 1. Prioritize What You Enjoy For many, too much of the holiday season is spent fulfilling obligations and not enough time is spent doing things we actually enjoy.  Pass on the construction of the second cousin’s Aunt’s sister’s front yard manger scene in favor of some good laughs viewing A Christmas Vacation at home. 2. Manage Your Own Addictive Behaviors, Not Othe...
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  • 6 Exit Strategies for Uncomfortable Holiday Situations

    Posted on November 30, 2018
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. It’s the most wonderful time of year…  for some.  For others, this time of year brings with it uncomfortable holiday situations and challenges.  Navigating difficult family members, work events, and beverage-laden holiday parties while successfully self-regulating or abstaining from alcohol can render celebratory festivities a skosh toilsome.  Here are some exit strategies to help navigate uncomfortable holiday situations. 1. Identify Your Reason to Leave Ahead of Time. You know Topher from marketing is going to hound you all night to have a drink (or 10) with him, and you know you don’t want to play Robin to Topher’s Batman in the tales of misadventure that the entire company laughs and cringes about on the Monday after the holiday party.  After the main...
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  • Instant Gratification: This Thanksgiving Don’t Have the P.I.G.

    Posted on November 23, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Thansgiving and the Problem of Instant Gratification Somehow Thanksgiving, our holiday of gratitude, has morphed into a gluttonous melee of over-indulgence and excess.  If there is ever a time to practice coping with urges, resisting temptations, and moderate indulging, it is amidst the relentless onslaught of food and drink offerings that we are bombarded with throughout the celebratory festivities of November’s fourth Thursday. The P.I.G., or Problem of Instant Gratification, is a hallmark of the feverish consumer culture that abounds today.  As if the multitudinous dishes of the Thanksgiving meal weren’t enough, now we have trample-happy shopping sprees to add to the frenzied fervor of our most indulgent holiday.  One-click buying, drive-through “dinin...
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