Monday, September 5, 2011

Addiction Specialist Kicks Off A3 Academy in L.A.

Filling the void between “doing nothing and formal treatment.”

Good news for recovering addicts and addiction experts in Los Angeles: Dr. Adi Jaffe, a well-known addiction psychologist from UCLA and a longtime friend of Addiction Inbox, is kicking off a new venture: the A3 Academy.

 Dr. Jaffe, who runs the All About Addiction website, and writes a column for Psychology Today, knows whereof he speaks, having spent 8 years as a meth addict and drug dealer in a former lifetime. “The A3 Academy is specifically formulated to fill the void between doing nothing about addiction and formal addiction treatment,” Dr. Jaffe said. The inaugural academy will be held on Tuesday, September 6th, in West Los Angeles (2001 Barrington Ave.) at 6:00 PM, and is intended to become a weekly event. Information, tickets, and details of online participation are available HERE. Or you can email for information at

“If it has to do with addiction,” we’ll probably cover it,” Dr. Jaffe said. He plans to integrate “informational sessions, process groups, life planning, mindfulness, nutrition, and expert consultation with leading addiction experts from the Los Angeles area and beyond.”

Dr. Adi told Addiction Inbox that “local LA people can attend the event, and others can stream and watch, and the cost is purposefully low. It's going to be an educational/empowerment sort of thing that will adapt to the needs of the specific group attending.”

Judging by his blog postings at All About Addiction, Dr. Jaffe brings a wealth of information and experience to the task—as well as being an accomplished public speaker. “I’ve learned a lot about the genetic, behavioral, and environmental influences on addiction and drug-abuse,” he says. “Whatever you’re comfortable calling addiction, there’s no doubt that it’s having a great, negative, impact on those it affects. More than 500,000 deaths and a burden of more than $500 million dollars are attributed to substance abuse every year in the United States alone. I think it's time we get real about the problem and stop using stigma and misinformation to hide behind.”

Photo Credit:


SleepRunning said...

"Dr. Jaffe, who runs the All About Addiction website, and writes a column for Psychology Today, knows whereof he speaks, having spent 8 years as a meth addict and drug dealer in a former lifetime. "

Does anyone else's stomach drop when they hear this typical "wounded healer" description? Scary to be treated by a hard core junkie. They are very smooth and persuasive however.

Dirk Hanson said...

"Scary to be treated by a hard core junkie."

Sounds like stigmatization to me. Do former addicts make better therapists? Not necessarily. But I don't know of any evidence suggesting they make worse therapists.

SleepRunning said...

The question is evidence. We have heard of the "wounded healer" model, there must be some research. Surprising, if not.

Have noticed that folks with addictive brain disorders only seem to really listen to others with same impairments.

Again, evidence, not anecdotes, are best for action. said...

You guys crack me up with your buzz words and models. Would you like to learn to fly from a pilot that never landed a plane? How about learn scuba from a guy who's never been under water?

I am a very successful ex addict who runs a long term treatment program in Hawaii who treats people for FREE! We ONLY hire ex-addicts and wouldn't have it any other way...

Having been there many years ago, I know that the value of one addict helping another is without parallel. All the books in the word can't teach you what we know first hand...

I would much rather be treated by a junkie than a quack doctor that knows nothing about addiction except what he read in some book written by another quack doctor... The medical establishment should get the hell out of the addiction business... All they seem to do is sell people on the idea of "disease!" then get them hooked on psychotropics ...

SleepRunning said...

We know addiction is a serious, inherited, family, chronic brain disease that gets worse with age and stress.

There is no cure for any brain disease and mental illness.

Why have people in positions of responsibility with other people's lives who have these impairments.

We also know that addictive diseases are remorseless and brilliant at scamming the addict and everyone else and getting enabled.

In the case of drug addictions the people are also criminals. Drug addiction is criminal behavior, by definition.

So we're talking about severely mentally ill, brain damaged, often criminal folks "helping" others!?

Sounds like another scam of the disease.

We have actually done some community work at rehab centers and found the addict employees, just like all other addicts -- really sick. said...

Ok, so what is the doctor’s definition of “cured?” If a person suffers from 15 years of acute opiate addiction, goes through a long term treatment, finds they have a knack for helping other addicts find more resourceful coping skills, and remains not only clean and sober, but thrives for the past 15 years after… is that “cured" of addiction? Or would you say he’s just in remission?

And if drug addiction is a criminal behavior, why is alcohol not a criminal behavior? Isn’t the brain mechanism for the addiction the same? Why then is alcohol sold in every store in America? If you know your history you know that most of the addictive drugs became illegal because of racial prejudice and fear of other races.

@sleeprunning… Your responses are full of prejudice and regurgitated nonsense that you have been fed by the doctors who’s information is fueled by the pharmaceutical companies research and the almighty dollar.

Frankly your comment about addicts being "severely mentally ill, brain damaged, often criminal folks "helping" others!?” is ridiculous and insulting to all of us who have beat our addiction and dedicated our lives to helping others do the same.

After all my years of training, education and experience, you sound like you have some issues yourself! But we forgive your ignorance.

If you are in the treatment field, you really should excuse yourself and find a new line of work. If you are not then I would venture to say you should stick to whatever you are doing because you won’t find ANY success in my field with that outlook!

The whole idea that addicts can NEVER recover is nonsense. We have helped 1000’s do exactly that. Its not easy! Its not always fun! I know 1st hand that it certainly possible. AND WE HAVE LIVING, BREATHING EVIDENCE TO BACK IT UP!

I am a fully recovered addict. I underwent very intense treatment for 3 years under the care of another long time “recovered" addict who used CBT, NLP, SITH, and several other therapeutic techniques that you won’t find on any blog. The FACT is… It worked… My addictive behaviors were reprogrammed with more resourceful ones, the behavior drivers were redirected and the outcome is 15 years of a great life so far. I am not sick, demented, ill or mental. In fact, I am respected in my community and considered an expert in helping those who couldn’t be helped by others.

Mike said...

@SleepRunning - Wow, talk about having some issues.. This is the kind of stigmatization that really hurts the business of trying to make people better. Dr. Jaffe is some one that many many people have come to trust and look up to. As a recovering heroin/cocaine/alcohol addict I can tell you that getting help from someone that has been in the same position as me, and having successfully turned it around, is an invaluable resource. I've been to so many "Addiction Doctors" that don't have any clue as to the nature of this condition other than what might have been taught to them in a few books. I'm not saying that it should be a prerequisite to be an addict before becoming a doctor, but so many of these docs are not very perceptive and don't bother to see some things from the patients point of view. these are the things that really make a successful turn around more possible IMHO.

Adi Jaffe said...

Wow, quite the discussion, huh?
Firstly, to Sleeprunning - I have been drug free for 10 years (not in the program) and during that time received my Ph.D. from UCLA in Psychology (#1 program in the country) with an emphasis on behavioral Neuroscience and Statistics. If you'd like to offer some reasoning as to how that specifically points out my mental deficiencies, I'm all ears. Secondly, mental health issues like depression, ADHD, etc., affect about 50% of the population in the U.S., so are you suggesting that half of this country should not be trusted with responsibility of any kind?
Finally, I myself have written about the notion that addicts are not necessarily better addiction therapists but as you pointed out, theres also absolutely no evidence that they're worse, right? So instead of using those silly anecdotes "We have actually done some community work at rehab centers and found the addict employees, just like all other addicts -- really sick," maybe you should look for data.

And btw, this sentence "We also know that addictive diseases are remorseless and brilliant at scamming" makes no sense unless you believe that diseases can act independently. What you're actually saying is that all addicts, at every point in their life, are remorseless and brilliant at scamming. You're just trying to hide your stigmatization by assigning those evaluations to the disease instead of the people (like the War On Drugs attempted to focus on drugs and not drug users). It sounds like you've been personally affected by addiction and have not seen the other side of what happens when people cross back. I'm sorry for that, but gurantee that if you let the concept in you'll find many examples of addicts who have recovered and no longer fit that horrible stereotype.

SleepRunning said...

Oooo, struck a nerve. So we're on to something. "Defensiveness is usually the signal for something that is indefensible." The personal attacks are also a give away.

Personal experience and anecdotal evidence prove nothing -- they are mere sales tactics.

Inherited, family brain impairments are medical facts and defects in basic brain mechanisms. These are life long. There is no cure for brain disorders. The science is vast already and growing daily. Why pretend otherwise? Especially pros. Happy-talk and platitudes are of no value against any medical condition.

Of course, like any disease of an organ of the body, and the brain is just another organ, some ppl have more or less severe impairments. But to let one's ego and will power, and power needs, run over cool-headed and commercially unconflicted assessment of the best treatment for suffering people and their families -- is just selfish and self-serving. Sure is you're selling your services -- it's always full of sweetness and light and wisdom. But when treating sick people you also need to prove it.

Where's the data. Especially, when former criminals, pushers and junkies are being held-up as models for the vulnerable.

Finally, one scam of all addictive disease is the claim: "I'm not sick, I'm special." Like everything addiction says, it is a lie and the opposite is the truth.

Someone with an inherited, lifelong, chronic addictive brain disorder may be special, but they are certainly sick. Actually, the best counter to the lies the disease tells is to accept being ordinary and ill for life. The disease hates that!!

SleepRunning said...

It will be a useful problem-conversation, if people lets go of personal attacks and talk about ideas.

But that's real hard for some brains to do. It's principles, not personalities.

No, we do not attribute addictive behavior to the person that suffers from addiction. By definition, if a person could control their impulsive/compulsive behaviors, they wouldn't have an addictive brain disorder.

But the lack of personal control is not the disease, it is a symptom of the disease. If I have a heart impairment and I run out of breath walking up stairs the disease is causing this, not me the person. Simple.

The "show me data it's not helpful" is a common scam as well. So magic copper bracelets, miracle cures, etc. are OK until proven not? That is not the way medicine or any other professional practices works. That's why we have prior testing and professional standards of proof .

The core rule of any profession is "First, do no harm." Letting criminals and junkies in the same room with sick people seems to violate that basic rule. Big time.

We are not saying they are bad people. We are saying they are sick people and shouldn't other sick people be treated by the most healthy professionals with their full faculties and, at least, no history of criminal or exploitative behavior towards others? Duh. said...

Ok, so where did my disease go? Where did my sickness go? I was a stone cold heroin junkie shooting up 5 times a day for years… now I’ve been living great life in for 15 years. Where did my disease go?

In my not so humble opinion, I never had a disease. I made really bad choices. The addiction was the symptom not the problem. Fix the issues, no more addiction.

We have been treating addicts and convicts for many years. Our success rate is in the 60% range based on cold hard facts… we do all of this for FREE without a single doctor and without any medications. Regardless of any theory or misguided medical model, we get results… That is clearly a fact!

@Jaffe… Next time you are in Hawaii, look me up. I’d love to connect and show you our facility and even have you speak to our 120+ residential population. You can learn more about us at

David said...

@SleepRunning...I will just say this. It is a huge mistake to tell an addict they are suffering from a disease and have no control over their actions. You are instantly giving them an excuse to keep on doing what they are doing. Why? Because they can't help it, they have a mental disease...blah blah blah. I suffered from this "disease" for ten years, and I was told all the same things. I'm sure the doctors and specialists who told me this read all the latest books and have worked with hundreds of addicts so they felt qualified to tell me these things. But they were wrong. is 100% correct in what he is saying. I know because HELPED ME see I was responsible for my own actions, and I could CHOOSE to change my life. It helped knowing he had been in my shoes and knew exactly what I was going through. Due to him, others at Habilitat, and MYSELF, I have changed my life for the better. I am a responsible adult who takes care of his children, is relied upon to manage a 5 star resort at night ALONE for the last year and a half, and someone who can hold his head up high knowing I am worth something. This is not something all those other "experts" could have done for me.

My point is, don't hurt other people's chance at having a good life by telling them they are too mentally impaired to do so. That is a mistake. Instead, try making them accountable for their actions and empower them to make the difference in their lives they so desperately need.

Lemton said...

I'm a graduate of Habilitat and I agree that I don't have a disease and its a matter of learning new choices. I've been drug free over 25 years and I'm in the process of opening a semi-government drug program in the Philippines where crystal meth is in epidemic levels. I was treated for 27 months by a former addict that went from one drug program to another and was once declared dead in the morgue. Because of this man (Habilitat Founder) and his vision in treating the emotions that drive us to making the wrong decisions I'm here today managing a Preventive and very soon a Recovery Center for Alcohol and Drugs. Visit me if you're ever in the Philippines.

SleepRunning said...

Ah, so we should lie, basically. Then back to the "I'm not sick, I'm special." or the sales pitch by the guy in Hawaii. Rehab is really working for him -- as a business.

So this is just another sales pitch. You are right, all the research, all the doctors, all the scientists are wrong. Can you hear the disease talking, dude?!

And the kids who inherit these diseases -- we should lie to them to and what -- send them all to rehab in Hawaii? A geographic cure.

Look, most people do want to be lied to, especially about medical problems. The disease of addiction can't stand the truth, in any way.

Let's all pretend. Pretend I'm not a junkie, or criminal, etc. Pretend I'm a counselor -- "helping" people. Pretend addiction is not an family brain disorder. Let's pretend I "cure" go% of the people. On and on....

Wait we've tried all that, what do we got, exactly from the lies?

When you want to stop pretending, and fight the disease with the counter attack it hates most -- facts and data.
The Neurobiological Development of Addiction

The Meaning of Addiction: DSM-5 Gives the Lie to Addiction as a Chronic Brain Disease

Rehab center breaks new ground using SPECT to determine addiction treatment

So you guys lurk on this blog trolling for customers, huh? Clever, kinda.

SleepRunning said...

Whoa, rally the troops to sell Hawaii. Doesn't the moderator of this blog police sales pitches and spam?

Dirk Hanson said...

He does.

Michelle Druml said...

Certainly it is true that genetic studies have proven there are certain genes that can make a person more susceptible to addictive behaviors. And we also know that genes are inherited and contained in every cell in our bodies. However, SUSCEPTIBILITY does not necessarily mean INEVIBILITY! Environmental factors play an undeniable role in the development of an addiction.

@sleep running- addiction is as you say, serious, can be familial, and have genetic predisposition, but you err in stating that it is a chronic disease of the brain that worsens with age and stress. Furthermore, the physiologic processes that occur with addiction, brain damage, and mentally illness are extremely different. "Personal experience and anecdotal evidence proves nothing", so you say, but get your medical facts right. A person can be or may not be predisposed to addiction and may or may not become an addict in the very same way a person can be predisposed to heart disease or cancer but may not develop the disease because they control their environmental factors such as eating healthy, refraining from smoking, and exercising to keep thier blood pressure and cholesterol levels low and decrease risks of cancer. Or on the otherhand, the overweight inactive smoker who loses weight and has a normal BMI is still sick and can never be well again for the rest of his life.

I suggest dissect your statement a bit and take your own advice---- As Habilitat says, these people are living breathing proof..... Where's your data? said...

Yet you still have not answered one single question I asked!

Now lets try to get the opposition banned from the blog? Wow…

Please lets be civil and see if any of the questions I asked can be answered? I really want to know where the heck my disease went? is it hiding somewhere? in remission? Am I hallucinating this whole great life I have without drugs?

It indeed looks like the moderator is doing his job because there are several messages from people around the world who have a different view of this subject that wanted to speak up but were filtered out. Understandable since this has gotten a bit heated…

I still want to know… with all due respect… from your educated opinion… where did my disease go? said...

Can someone please show me proof that addiction is a disease? Not a theory… the proof? where’s the proof? said... … well, there is the problem… Ever known a psych that solved an addiction problem? Nope, because the whole lot of them believe its incurable… that’s a great place to start… "I can’t fix the problem but I can get you dependent on my sessions and the drugs that the drug industry gives me incentive to prescribe you…" That way I can bilk your insurance company for the most bang for the buck!

Keep coming back its works…

They should stick to mental illness but I guess there’s not enough money it that.

James I said...

@SleepRunning Unfortunately sir you seem to be outnumbered here. I am another one of the thousands that has realized that I wan't "sick" I just chose to make the wrong decisions. Even though I didn't graduate from Habilitat I used what I learned from the wonderful caring recovering addicts how to change my behavior/mindset and as a result I have been drug free for over 20 years. I am currently a sucessful chef and have also been sucessful at several other occupations before deciding that I most enjoy making others happy through food. Perhaps if everyone were to believe that the "sick" people can't help others with the same problems NA and AA would also be no more??? (I think not!!!).

SleepRunning said...

Of course, the disease is always more powerful and the "loudest voice" in any "room."

What we are hearing is nothing more that then usual three D's of addiction:
- Denial "I'm not sick, I'm special." Making the symptoms the disease, etc.
- Delusion - "All the medical facts are wrong and me and my all powerful will are right
- Deception (lying) -- "I am cured." "60% cure" Sure.

What is shocking, and deeply corrupt, and probably illegal is the happy defense of putting criminals and mentally ill people in charge of other's well being and recovery.

12 Step programs have firm boundaries -- apparently treatment centers run by addicts do not.

This is probably why rehab and treatment is such a failure. It's like making criminals wardens!

In terms of being outnumbered, millions of people buy and believe in magic copper bracelets for cures. This has become a addict's echo chamber that's all. Typical.

Adi Jaffe said...

I guess this whole thing started with "Does anyone else's stomach drop when they hear this typical "wounded healer" description? Scary to be treated by a hard core junkie. They are very smooth and persuasive however."

Apparently the answer is a simple resounding, "no."

Michelle Druml said...

Obviously we will not change the guys mind....

But sleep running, this is not an uncommon theme in our society. When women with breast cancer attend a breast cancer support group, who runs it? Breast cancer survivors..... There are many groups that aim to help other individuals with problems they themselves have also experienced from issues in healthcare to financial planning to loss of a loved one and many more.

Why then should substance abuse be any different???

Anyone can google some websites to support their theory, but listen to those who know.

SleepRunning said...

Yes, the happy support for this abusive behavior and attitude is shocking. This is probably why treatment is so unsuccessful -- and such a money maker

Breasts cancer survivors have not involved in chronic behaviors that have harmed themselves and others. Duh.

Let's run through the basics.

The brain is just another organ in the body. Genetics determine how well functioning it starts life. If there is impairment from genetics of conditions in the womb, mom drinking, etc., weakness in its structure and function are laid down permanently.

If early childhood experiences are stressful, as often since brain diseases are family diseases, then further damage is done. Any damage to the brain is permanent and lifelong. PTSD, for example, as is often experienced by children with addictive families and caregivers, is permanent -- there is no cure.

Then, later in childhood or later, other events can trigger the underlying weaknesses to cause first impulsive behaviors which can then become compulsive and chronic. Being born with addictive, or schizophrenic, or depressive brain impairments does not mean they will be triggered to cause symptoms and harmful behaviors. Maybe even most people with these diseases aren’t. Generally, it is rare to find
mental illnesses expressed at > 10%.

Addictive and self-(and other) harming behaviors are symptoms of the underlying disease and brain process impairments. These are actual broken neuronal circuits and systematic malfunctions in the brain.

Let’s switch over to coronary artery disease (CAD) or heart disease since people get less defensive talking about that. Genetics produces micro plaques, the stuff that clogs arteries, in the womb. So children are born with the chemical, cellular and systems vulnerabilities to having blocked arteries. Same as their parents and relatives.

But there are lots of differences between individuals. Some have it worse than others. Once born, some environmental factors can help or hurt the disease, smoking, eating, lack of exercise, etc. So the symptoms that all people who are born with CAD have are different.
But the symptoms are not the underlying cause of the symptoms or the actual disease. So, shortness of breath, pain, dizziness, etc. are not the disease – they are the symptoms of being born with the tendency for your arteries to clog.
Same with addiction.

SleepRunning said...

The inherited brain disorder one is born with drives the addictive and self-harming behaviors – it is not the cause. Of course, there can be a feedback loop from the symptomatic behaviors that makes the side effects of the disease worse and maybe even the underlying impairments or the disease worse.
Treating symptoms is not the same as treating the disease. In medicine that is called “symptom chasing.” You bring your kid to the doctor for a cough. They have pneumonia. Do you want the doc to just stop the cough?

Saying “I don’t use, I’m cured.” is not true. The underlying brain impairment that caused the impulsive/compulsive behaviors still exists – symptoms have just moderated.

All we can do with most diseases is symptom management. Like addiction, we really don’t have treatments for heart disease or stroke and many other illnesses of the body’s organs. The brain is real complicated for effective treatments many be hundreds of years away. Decades for sure. Probably not in our lifetimes.

Addictive brain disorder are just an ordinary disease – except they are much more destructive to other people than all others. For example, the incidence of relapse from treatment, about 60%, is the same for kidney disease, etc..

“Believing the con” that because addictive or co-morbid conditions, like criminality and other mental illnesses are currently not being seen so the person is capable of providing professional guidance and is cured is factually, irresponsible and dangerous to all involved. Loudly selling one’s “success” lifestyle and beneies and crowing about being a paragon of sobriety is just another scam of the disease.

In heart disease, meds, exercise and stopping smoking may put the symptoms CAD in remission but you still have the disease of CAD. Same with addiction. Symptom management is not a cure and usually temporary.

Like all chronic and incurable, genetic diseases, addiction is an “inside” job about managing the internal brain states – not how many trophies one can rack up, and all the people that tell you are great or trust you or give you money status and cudos.

It’s the disease that craves all that stuff, because it distracts attention and energy away from paying attention to the disease. The more external an addicts focus, the more the disease wins. These are just new, socially acceptable, fixes. Like “helping” others when you are still sick yourself.

End of sermon

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