• A Guide to Finding Outside Assistance for Addictive Problems

    Posted on December 8, 2022
    By Tom Horvath, PhD, ABPP   Am I an “alcoholic” or “addict?” Do I “need help?” If so, what kind? If you are asking one or more of these questions, this blog is for you!   A somewhat out-of-date but nevertheless helpful federal publication considers these questions. Although this NIAAA (National Institute Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) document is focused on alcohol problems, many of its ideas can also be applied to other addictive problems. In this blog I will attempt to improve upon and expand their ideas. In my opinion NIAAA 1) focuses too much on treatment and not enough on the individual choosing or considering change, 2) does not alert the reader about the serious problems that can arise in treatment, and 3) is not up-to-date on the finding that AA specifica...
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  • Addicted in Film: Movies We Love About the Habits We Hate (A Review)

    Posted on October 7, 2022
    Addicted in Film: Movies We Love About the Habits We Hate, by Ted Perkins A review by Tom Horvath, PhD www.addictedinfilm.com I have already provided advance praise for this book, and I am pleased to repeat it: [Addicted in Film: Movies We Love About the Habits We Hate] is a must-have if you or anyone you know has been touched by addictive problems. It's filled with enlightening stories about powerful films that could become a turning point for people. You might also be interested in: 14 Addiction and Recovery Movies to Add to Your Queue Perkins** reviews over two dozen addiction-related films (culled from over 100 that he considered including). The reviews are thorough and cover the main components of each film. He selected films that might help someone change. He exc...
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  • NIAAA’s Core Resource on Alcohol

    Posted on July 8, 2022
    by A. Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP Might you be looking for an up-to-date and thoroughly scientific “textbook” on alcohol, alcohol problems, and how to deal with them? In May, 2022, the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), one of the 27 National Institutes of Health, published one online. Although this resource is written for healthcare professionals who address alcohol problems, motivated non-professionals will find answers to many of their questions, as well as links to resources for investigating further. NIAAA's Core resource provides 14 articles, which address: How much alcohol is too much? Risk factors for developing alcohol problems The neuroscience of alcohol Understanding and coping with stigma about alcohol problems Medical complic...
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  • Netflix Miniseries Mentions Rational Recovery

    Posted on December 17, 2021
    by Tom Horvath, PhD In September 2021, Netflix released a seven-episode miniseries that mentions Rational Recovery (RR) as an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in episode II (starting in minute 46). Ironically, the mention of RR occurs in a very small (two-person) AA meeting. The pro-RR speaker is required to attend AA as part of parole, but he objects to AA’s powerlessness and God-centered approach. He prefers RR’s addictive voice recognition technique and the idea that he could take charge of his own behavior. In that AA meeting, he takes an extended moment to explain RR concepts and what he likes about them. Miniseries Mentions Rational Recovery - The Significance The significance of RR’s presence in Midnight Mass is that self-empowering approaches to resolving addictive ...
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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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  • 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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  • Research Chemicals May Accelerate Psychedelic Treatment

    Posted on May 29, 2020
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Research chemicals are commonly associated with things like ‘the dark web,’ ‘silk road,’ ‘the amazon of drugs,’ and other, slightly shady and un-salubrious sectors of society.  However, research chemicals earn their family name because there are some actual scientific researchers investigating true therapeutic and clinical potential.  Recently, one such scientific researcher, Dr. Alan Kozilowski, a trained organic chemist from the University of Berkeley and Harvard, outlined his efforts to manufacture a compound that mirrors the effects of psilocybin.     Psilocybin is a compound best know for being the ‘magic’ in the mushroom.  Kozilowski was inspired by the significant, positive research findings for psilocybin and the treatment of various ...
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  • APA Encourages Harm-Reduction & Telehealth During Pandemic

    Posted on April 24, 2020
    by Thaddeus Camlin, PsyD The American Psychological Association (APA) recently published an article offering advice from leading professionals on effectively treating and preventing addictive problems during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Our own Dr. Horvath is quoted multiple times in the APA article, speaking about the value of telehealth during pandemic and the importance of fostering resilience through adversity.  The APA article’s endorsement of harm-reduction practices is also a subtle but revealing sign of the shifting landscape of addiction treatment.   For nearly a century the tyranny of abstinence dominated the zeitgeist of American thinking on treating addiction.  A major, national organization like the APA weaving in a concrete endorsement of harm-reduction as a v...
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