The myth that every slip in addiction recovery is a relapse must end.

Is Relapse Always A Part of Recovery?

According to one of my teammates who is in recovery and supports others in achieving their recovery, the answer is:

The Current Definition of Relapse Doesn’t Reflect Reality

There are multiple definitions as to what constitutes a relapse. It can be defined as a deterioration in condition after a partial recovery or a slip or fall back to a previous state or practice. Either way, the definition does not note the grey areas that actually exist when a person in recovery uses a substance again.

This belief that…


Addiction disease is just as visible as a heart attack. We need to open our eyes to actually look and listen.

Two Emergency Room Case Vignettes

Below are two different scenarios which describe the experience of two different people before, during, and after their visit to an emergency room. When you read the case vignettes, what do you notice? What is different, why is it different, and should it be different?

Vignette 1: Heart Attack Response

I begin to feel horrible chest pain that spreads to other parts of my body. I’m short of breath. There’s this pressure and squeezing feeling in the left part of my chest that’s coming…


I can’t remember when I started feeling it exactly, but I don’t remember a time without it. Anxiety. That ever-present tightness in my chest or inescapable thought process involving every possible world-ending scenario that would happen when I leave my home. It’s gotten better in the past couple of years thanks to finding a good therapist. Still, though, I continue to let my anxiety be the center of my own personal solar system of emotions and experiences. My anxiety fuel tank is always full and COVID certainly didn’t help any of this. But, 2020 did teach me something about what…


Resolutions don’t work. It’s time to turn them into Commitments and more specifically, commitments to yourself.

2020 is Ending…Finally.

It has been an eternity of a year with all types of events contributing to increases in mental health and addiction disease concerns. Many of us may be thinking that to make up for this year, some New Year’s Resolutions may be in order. New year, new me — as they say. I applaud anyone who wants to consider making healthy and positive changes in their life, but I caution anyone about making resolutions or using the “New year, new me,” mantra.

Resolutions Are Just Flimsy Decisions

It’s been…


What can we do to quiet the loud, obnoxious voice of addiction?

I was doing supervision with my teammate, Chris, yesterday when she said something that got me thinking. She’s new to our team at Halcyon Health and already off to an amazing start as a Certified Peer Recovery Coach. This was her first week working with members (clients), so I was eager to hear how everything had been going. As we were talking about her coaching session experiences this week, I was struck by how she framed addiction. She talked about it like a voice; how it can be…


Using the Miracle Question to hone problems into solutions.

One of my favorite therapeutic tools is the Miracle Question

It comes from Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) which was developed by the therapist couple Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg in the 1980s. The goal of SFBT is to examine the client’s problem in the here-and-now. It orients a client’s awareness towards solutions, rather than the problem saturated world which the client brings with them into the therapy room.

We are constantly creating the future in our minds and often creating a picture-perfect one; sometimes without even being conscious of the thoughts. SFBT allows a person to bring those thoughts…


Let’s untangle addiction and substance use disorder for good.

Substance use is a symptom of addiction disease. And therein lies the actual focus of recovery support.

Substance use disorder is not addiction disease.

When we talk about people who use alcohol and/or other drugs and what they need, the focus has traditionally been more on ending substance use. This is the wrong focus because the resulting treatment places emphasis ont the symptom (substance use) and not the solving the actual problem: addiction. I’ll repeat it again: Substance use disorder is not addiction disease. Substance use is just one symptom of the complex disease that is addiction.


We’ve got it wrong when it comes to using “addiction treatment” as the way we talk about helping people with their substance use and addiction diseases. It’s not surprising when you think about how we as a society continue to perpetuate the stigma around addiction. The view of addiction as a disease is still slow to be accepted. As a result, people with these diseases/who are concerned with their substance use and their families continue to suffer in silence. They continue to try and sweep it under the rug. …


Why COVID May Make the Holiday Blues Even Worse and Tips to Help

For many, the Holiday Season is not so holly jolly.

Even for people who do get into the spirit of the season, they sometimes feel stressed. Holiday Related Depression, more commonly known as the Holiday Blues, is a real phenomenon and this year more people may be affected than ever.

COVID is most likely going to impact our celebrations this year.

Usual gatherings of friends and family may have to be done virtually, which will definitely not feel the same. There will likely not be the annual office holiday party…which is probably a good thing for some people who tend to over do it. The usual traditions like…


Finding the Voice of Recovery

September 2020 is the 31st year honoring Recovery Month.

Honoring this month is important because it helps to fight back against stigma around mental health and addiction. People with heart diseases, Alzheimer’s, breast cancer, and other diseases and those that support them have loud “voices”— large supportive communities with platforms from which they can raise awareness and funds. We must do the same for mental health and addiction diseases; find the voice of recovery to help paint a different picture of these diseases.

It is still uncommon to hear stories of recovery in mental health. When it comes to addiction, there are even less…

Matt DeMasi

Mental Health Professional, Synesthete, Foodie. My Real Housewives Intro would be: “I’m loud and Profound.”

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