• Mindful Breathing for Reduced Stress

    Posted on June 21, 2023
    By Tom Horvath, PhD, ABPP One of the simplest but most powerful ways to reduce stress is to focus on breathing. Although books have been written on this subject, the following ideas may be a sufficient guide for you. Because we breathe continuously, you will have lots of opportunity to practice! Less is More Perhaps the most important single step to reduce stress is to breathe less, while breathing regularly, through your nose. A deep breath or two can get you started on “breath work,” but after those initial breaths, focus on breathing regularly but more slowly, and with lower volume of air. You are not going to reduce your rate of breathing instantly. However, over the course of many breaths your rate will (probably not entirely smoothly) reduce. With practice you might breathe a...
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  • Improving Our Language About Addictive Problems, Part 2

    Posted on February 22, 2023
    By Tom Horvath, PhD In Part 1 I recommended that the term “addictive problems” replace several similar terms. In Part 2 I recommend that the term “recovery” be replaced with several better alternatives, depending on context. To summarize Part 1, there is a continuum of addictive problems (abstinence, moderation, misuse, mild substance use disorder, moderate substance use disorder, severe substance use disorder). Over time someone can move up or down that continuum. They are not stuck forever at one level. This possibility of movement is the most radical aspect of viewing addictive problems as lying on a continuum (vs. the view that you are an “alcoholic” or “addict” forever, or that you are not). The lower the level of problems, the less likely someone is to address them because t...
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  • The Best College Recovery Programs for Students in Every State

    Posted on November 28, 2018
    A collegiate recovery program can mean all the difference to a young person in recovery. Having a program like this available on campus means they do not have to choose between recovery and a higher education. It provides students with an avenue to stay committed to recovery, while focusing on school, and having a community of support in a setting where it’s stereotypically a place to overindulge in substances. We researched colleges across the country that understand this and have dedicated university resources to supporting students in recovery. This is far from all, but is a great showing of support for the recovery community in higher education. U.S. Universities with Recovery Programs for Students Alabama University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL - The Collegiate Recovery and...
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  • A Recipe for Success in Addiction Recovery

    Posted on November 16, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Recovery from Addiction: One Person’s Recipe for Success Arguably the most meaningful aspect of working in a helping profession is receiving updates of success.  With permission from the individual and after removing identifying information, this week’s article shares one person’s recipe for continued success in changing a problematic pattern of substance use.  The following paragraphs are elements of the individual’s success story verbatim, with some minor changes to protect the individual’s identity. I write to give you a recovery update.  I want you to know that I truly am following the after-care plan.  I have been maintaining balance since I left, an aspect my previous self underestimated but now am benefitting greatly from.  Before moving I would m...
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  • Linda Lewis: "I Swore it Would Not Happen to Me."

    Posted on September 2, 2016
    Linda Lewis shares her story. by Linda Lewis, Recovery Maintenance Counselor for Practical Recovery I’ve been preparing for my role as an addiction counselor all my life. From the time I was born, I was surrounded by people with addiction problems… life and death problems. Our family has a white sheep, one, my aunt Lois. She was the only stable person in my life for years. Not surprisingly, she is also the last of a large family who is alive and well. When I was 12, my step father , the good one, died drinking and driving. As for my biological parents, after sad chaotic lives, they both died in their forties because of their alcohol dependence. My father died of liver cirrhosis at 47. He spent years in and out of hospitals and mental institutions. Our relationship was strange and...
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  • On being a SEN Master, Part 1

    Posted on January 22, 2016
    by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP What did the Zen Master say to the hot dog vendor?  “Make me one with everything.” This article is NOT about gaining enlightenment.  Rather, I focus on gaining greater lifestyle balance and greater overall physical and emotional health.  The term SEN Master, which I coined a few years ago, emphasizes the benefits of good Sleep, Exercise and Nutrition.  Of course, there are other valuable health habits (not abusing substances, washing your hands regularly–so as not to spread germs, taking care of your teeth, limiting sun exposure), and other habits that indirectly promote health (having a good social life, having meaningful activities).  The term SEN Master, however, suggests that good sleep, exercise and nutrition are the core health habits. Physicia...
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  • Defend Your Recovery and Mental Health During Seasonal Changes

    Posted on October 9, 2015
    With the end of summer comes shorter days, less sunlight, less time spent outdoors and, for some of us, a bit of a negative shift in our mood. Known as the winter blues or even Seasonal Affective Disorder (in more severe cases), this shift ranges from feeling a little down, sluggish, withdrawn, or even depressed, as the colder, darker days begin to replace the rejuvenating days of spring and summer. We all know that taking care of our mental health is a key component of our recovery, that’s why it’s critical we address any negative feelings which start to creep in – including those brought on by a change in the weather. While you can’t control the seasons, you can stave off some of those ill feelings. If your mood is beginning to fall with the leaves outside, try these tips for a ...
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  • Staying Positive After a Slip

    Posted on August 21, 2015
    by Devon Berkheiser, Psy.D. Recovery from addiction is rarely a straight path; for most people, it involves some slips and mistakes along the way. Even though slips happen to most people in recovery, they can be very tough to deal with, eliciting feelings of shame, guilt, and even hopelessness. However, allowing those feelings to overwhelm you can actually lead to further slips and a full-blown relapse. While it can be challenging, it is often beneficial to stay positive after having a slip. Here are 4 tips for doing just that: 1. Challenge Your Negative Beliefs What are you telling yourself about your slip? Perhaps you are telling yourself that all of your progress has been lost, or that recovery is completely hopeless. Maybe you are labeling yourself a loser. Such negative though...
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  • The Recovery Maintenance Plan: Much Bigger Than Relapse Prevention

    Posted on June 26, 2015
    By Linda Lewis, CADCII A year or so ago Practical Recovery began using the term recovery maintenance in place of relapse prevention. Why? Because it fits our model so much better. The idea is simple: If you focus on maintaining your recovery, you can worry less about relapse. If you build a life that supports you in not using, it becomes a lot easier to resist bad choices. Recovery maintenance is more about having a well-rounded plan, so you can focus more on living well. Rather than focusing on avoiding relapse (which, of course we hope to do), a good recovery maintenance plan has a “what if I relapse” section to prepare for it. I’ve had clients in the past who refused to face the possibility of relapse and they did not do well. I’ve found that if someone does not plan for the po...
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  • Staying Friends with Using Buddies

    Posted on March 23, 2015
    By Devon Berkheiser In early recovery, many people face a choice: whether to continue friendships with people who may still be using or to end those friendships in order to protect their own sobriety. This is not always an easy decision to make. Some using buddies may actually be long-term friends, and it can be hard to handle another important loss when you’re already dealing with so many changes in your life. Additionally, you may not have sober friends, which leaves you with the option of going back to old friendships or essentially starting over, which can feel overwhelming. If you do decide to maintain friendships with friends who are not sober, here are tips to help you manage the situation: 1. Evaluate the risk Some using buddies may be supportive of your new sobriety while ...
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