The Anatomy of a Relapse

Relapses (and lapses and slips, whatever you want to call a return to old behavior) are frustrating events.  Sometimes it feels like you’re (finally!) on the path you want to be on, and then, out of the blue, you fall off of that path and feel like you are  back at the beginning (and that […]

Increasing Positive Support with Relationship FIT-ness

Relationships matter. A lot! “Ugh, every time I see my brother, I feel so stressed/undervalued/ mad/ alone  (and want to go get a drink)!”  Sound familiar?  Substitute mother/father/classmate/ boss/friend and we are certain that you have significant people in your life with whom your relationship could be described as “difficult.”  Then, there are those people […]

Understanding How We Change

Motivation for a given action (like, for instance, stopping smoking pot) is different at different times, and changes over time. Because of this, if we are trying to help motivate someone to make a change, we do best to try to understand a person’s stage of “readiness” for the change we are discussing, and start […]

Why “Practice Makes Perfect”

Often, the process of making lasting change requires trying new and unfamiliar things. Maybe it’s walking to work a different way so you can avoid a tempting or triggering location. Maybe it’s practicing new coping skills in the face of an old problem. Maybe it’s reaching out to other people when you normally would go […]

How to Help your Potential Support System Really be Helpful

Many people start using substances (often as teens) as a way to engage socially.  The reality is that almost all substances with abuse potential initially have a “social lubrication” effect (i.e., they are disinhibiting, relaxing, anxiety-reducing, buffers to self-criticism, enhancers of pleasure, etc).  The problem?  Further down the road (and sometimes right out of the […]

The Role of Glucose in Decision Making

When we are helping our clients identify craving patterns (the thoughts, emotions and physical pull back toward a substance or behavior) and the decisions they make in response to them (i.e., do I respond to the craving with use, or do I use other skills to distract and diminish my cravings), we almost always ask […]

What is Willpower?

What is willpower?  Some sense of self-control, resilience, ability to stick to a goal in spite of obstacles?  It’s actually more of a folk wisdom term but it has a lot of power in our culture and psyches.  In the popular press, people with a “lot of willpower” are thought to be strong, competent and […]

Strategies for Overcoming Stress

Lifehacker has posted an excellent post called Nine Strategies Successful People Use to Overcome Stress.  This post recommends a series of strategies that we also highlight as evidence-based approaches for self-care (so we like them!).  The Nine Strategies they cite are:

Cognitive-Bias Modification: Changing How We See the World

We are curious about “cognitive-bias modification”.  Researchers have found that focusing (noticing, analyzing, ruminating) on threatening or negative events leads people to see the world in less positive ways.  In particular they appear to be more pessimistic and have difficulty seeing potential positive outcomes. In other words, if you notice the frowning faces on the […]