Naloxone asked me to share my opinion on Naloxone:

“We are in the midst of an opiod overdose epidemic in America. The tragedy of overdose happens to 100 of our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers and friends every day. Naloxone is a life saving medication used for reversing opioid overdose that should be as widely available as possible.

Family, friends, healthcare professionals, emergency workers and anyone else who may be in a position to save a life should be trained in the proper administration of naloxone. Where naloxone is currently being distributed, lives are being saved, the research is clear on this. There is no risk. Naloxone distribution does not give permission to drug users to use drugs any more that teaching the Heimlich maneuver gives people permission to choke on food.“

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

El Fracaso de la Abstencia

I did an interview with Que Pasa on addiction treatment:

¿Cuál es el principal problema de los tratamientos actuales para consumidores de alcohol o drogas?
Si piensas en cualquier tratamiento para un problema de salud, el acercamiento médico apropiado comenzará con un diagnóstico general de la persona, porque reconoces que ese problema existe en un continuo. La visión categórica de que las personas o son adictas o son “normales como nosotros” es problemática y no se condice con los datos que tenemos. La población que lucha con el consumo de sustancias es muy grande y muy diversa. Y es una generalización pensar que debemos exigir la abstinencia total a todos aquellos a quienes definimos como “adictos”. En esa decisión clínica lo que está quedando fuera es una evaluación comprehensiva, que permita identificar de manera específica quién es esta persona, cuán severo es su uso de sustancias, qué la motiva. Y eso nos llevará a una decisión clínica específica: cuál es el mejor tratamiento para esta persona.

¿Cuál es la alternativa a la abstinencia? ¿Cree que es posible un consumo moderado de drogas ilegales?
Como sicólogo, como especialista en adicciones, en general lo que vemos es que hay algo que gatilla el uso problemático de la sustancia, y por lo cual el individuo cree que es incapaz de detenerse. Desde esa definición, la solución a la adicción podría ser, la abstinencia o, como alternativa, tener un consumo que no sea problemático. Desde mi punto de vista, si un individuo es capaz de desarrollar un uso no problemático de alguna sustancia, la adicción está curada.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dr. Andrew Tatarsky, NYSPA Addiction Division President: Cuomo Support for Medical Marijuana Good, Legislation Still Urgently Needed

As current President of the Division of Addictions of New York State Psychological Association (NYSPA), and a substance use treatment professional in the field for over 30 years, I applaud the Assembly Health Committee for passing the Compassionate Care Act today.  Governor Cuomo’s recent acknowledgement that cannabis has medical value for some seriously ill people is a wonderful development, but the 1980 Olivieri Law that he proposes using has significant restrictions that will prevent many patients who need the medicine from receiving it. I urge Cuomo to work with the State Legislature to enact comprehensive medical marijuana legislation this session.

The Compassionate Care Act (A.6357-A, Gottfried/S.4406-A, Savino) offers New York the right system.  Many of my colleagues in the addiction and mental health treatment communities support this bill as reflected in endorsements by the New York State Psychological Association and its Division on Addiction. We recommend that certifying practitioners and patients should receive comprehensive education about the potential benefits and risks associated with marijuana use, strategies for assessing risk and protocols for minimizing risk. Concerns about misuse, like with any medication, should lead to referrals to appropriate mental health and substance use treatment professionals for assessment and treatment. There is overwhelming evidence that medical cannabis can be used safely and is effective for many serious medical conditions. It is also clear that the benefits of medical marijuana outweigh the risks for the majority of appropriate patients.”
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dr. Andrew Tatarsky presents Fundamentals of Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy training

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I am excited to invite you to participate in the first three day training in the Fundamentals of Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy (IHRP) for substance use problems and other risky behaviors that I will give in New York City this October/November, 2012. This is the second training the Center for Optimal Living is giving in collaboration with the New School for Social Responsibility.

I have described IHRP in my book, Harm Reduction Psychotherapy: A New Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Problems, and a series of papers and book chapters. I have offered versions of this training nationally and internationally so you will be joining an international community of practitioners in many parts of the world including Chile, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, China, Ireland, Austria, Ohio, Chicago, North Carolina and more. IHRP emerged out of my 30 years of working in the field and brings together harm reduction principles with the wisdom and technique of relational psychoanalysis, cognitive-behavioral therapy and the humanistic and mindfulness traditions.

The training will cover basic definitions and philosophy of harm reduction psychotherapy, clinical challenges of working with people engaging in substance use and other risky behaviors such as eating, cutting, shopping, sex, etc., theoretical models for understanding these behaviors and the seven therapeutic tasks of IHRP with didactic material, demonstration of technique, skill-building exercises for each task and case discussion. This training lays the groundwork for future trainings that will support participants in developing mastery in IHRP.

The training is appropriate for psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, medical providers, counselors and graduate students in these disciplines.

I hope you will join us in the collaborative process that will emerge in the training.

Andrew Tatarsky, PhD
Center for Optimal Living
303 Fifth Avenue. Suite 1403
New York, NY 10016

Essentials of Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy Andrew Tatarsky,  PhD

Friday, October 26th, 2012
Overview & Introduction of  Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy Principles
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (80 5th Ave., Room 529)

Friday, November 2nd, 2012
Therapeutic Alliance, Engagement Skills, Self-Management Skills
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at Wolff Conference Room6 East 16th St., Room 1103

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012
Assessment, Embracing Ambivalence, Treatment Planning
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at Wolff Conference Room 6 East 16th St., Room 1103

Training Objectives:

  • Overview of the history, evolution, and clinical rationale of the Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy (IHRP) model for treating substance misuse and other risky behaviors
  • Discussion of IHRP’s seven therapeutic tasks and specific techniques, including:o Managing the therapeutic alliance, therapeutic relationship as healing agent, development of self-management skills for “urge surfing”, assessment as treatment, embracing ambivalence, goal-setting and active strategies for positive change
  • Skills and strategies will be demonstrated and participants will have opportunities to practice them with role-play exercises
  • Participants are encouraged to bring case material and clinical challenges for discussion
  • This training is approved by NYS-OASAS for 18 clock hours of Renewal and Initial credit


Dr. Andrew Tatarsky is a specialist in the field of substance use treatment as a psychologist, supervisor, program director, lecturer and author.  He is the Director of The Center for Optimal Living, a treatment and training center in New York City. He author of Harm Reduction Psychotherapy: A New Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Problems. For more information about IHRP, please visit and click the Media tab.

Sponsored by The New School for Social Research, Department of Psychology Concentration in Mental Health & Substance Abuse Counseling 646. 504.6595;

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Center for Optimal Living Update June 1, 2012

The Center for Optimal Living in New York City has six clinicians with integrative harm reduction psychotherapy training and expertise in substance use and mental health. We are collaboratively building a setting in which comprehensive psychotherapy services based in integrative harm reduction principles are available. This is a model that others can adapt to their settings. We offer individual, group, couples and family therapy. Our harm reduction groups vary in focus so that we have different options that fit different people’s needs. Some are more open process groups, some are structured around teaching “emotional management skills” such as mindfulness, breathing, grounding, relaxation and other cognitive behavioral techniques for enhancing self-regulation, and some are geared toward specific populations: young adult, Gay Men, older adults, artists… We integrate psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, mindfulness and experiential traditions based on collaborative negotiation with each participant.

Our census is growing, relationships with referral sources are developing nicely, we are just about to launch our new website and we are planning for a big launch party in September. I have been amazed at the positive response from the professional community suggesting that there is a huge growing recognition of the need for harm reduction psychotherapy, a tremendous validation of the belief that led me to open the Center for Optimal Living. “If you build it they will come”.

We are also developing our training service and have several intensive trainings in Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy coming up in the fall. Stay tuned for more specifics or visit my website for information at We will also offer a monthly lecture/workshop series beginning in September called Third Thursdays. Presenters will offer a didactic and experiential workshop on a topic relevant to healing, growth and positive change that will give participants something concrete that they can begging using in their lives immediately.

I believe that Centers like this also serve to showcase our alternative paradigm, have a social and political function and offer the community invaluable services. I would invite others to consider creating similar Centers in your communities. We at the Center for Optimal Living are glad to provide support.  Andrew

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Center For Optimal Living – Spring 2012 Newsletter

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy with Adolescents and Families in Skokie, April 27, 2012 was a spectacular experience!

The training I led yesterday on applying Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy to the treatment of adolescents and their families in Skokie, Ill. was an amazing experience of exploration and discovery. Organized by Dr. Eugene Isyanov, Director of Behavioral Services Center, the training brought together 35 clinicians of various backgrounds who exchanged ideas, tackled thorny issues, shared the very personal aspects of doing this work and engaged in skill-building exercises with gusto. Some of the themes we particularly focused on: clinical challenges presented by adolescents at various developmental phases and their families, the paradigm shift in the addictive behaviors field from the old “disease concept” to a psychobiosocial/multiple meanings process model and its implications for treatment, is addiction a substance-related disordered or a trauma-related one?, how problems of self-regulation represent vulnerability to addictive behavior, if substances are used to manage symptoms of trauma in adolescence are they adaptive?, the important of integrating self-management skills-building, exploration of meaning and body-oriented interventions into psychotherapy and addiction treatment, establishing and alliance with the patient around compassionate curiosity (Donnel Stern), engagement skills of empathic listening, collaborative exploration and empathic reflection and the therapeutic expression of the harm reduction principle of “starting where the patient is”, embracing ambivalence as a motivational intervention and support of the patient’s integration of dissociated aspects of self expressed through addictive behavior, urge-surfing and unwrapping the urge as techniques for self-managing behavior change and integrative the dissociated aspects of self contained in the urge, social and personal countertransference as the major obstacles to therapeutic engagement, presumptions about “addict”-”addiction”-patient’s goals as important aspects of countertransference to be alert to, dealing with mandating agencies that have unrealistic expectations about the patient’s progress, the need to help patients deal with these realities in empowered ways, the need for clinicians to see themselves as political/social change agents, and more!

Dr Isyanov and his colleagues contributed much of value to the day as did Dan and Karen Bigg of Chicago Recovery Alliance, one of the first trail-blazing harm reduction organizations in the country based in Chicago.

There is an exciting international community working to learn and integrate these ideas and strategies into their work and settings and the community just became a little larger and richer yesterday. I am honored to have been a part of the process and look forward to next one.

I and the Center for Optimal Living are currently planning a three day intensive training in collaboration with the mental Health and Substance Use Masters Program at the New School in New York City in September. The three days will enable us to cover all the didactic and skills-building exercises of the Seven Psychotherapeutic Tasks of Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy. Stayed tuned for more details.

I hope you can participate.

Best, Andrew Tatarsky

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy-Advanced One-Day Training, Application Adolescents and Families

Chicago, April 27, 2012
Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy-Advanced One-Day Training, Application Adolescents and Families

8 CEU Credits will be offered to LPCs, LCPCs, LSWs, LCSWs, CADCs, and CPAIP


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Andrew Tatarsky on BlogTalkRadio with Kenneth Anderson

Listen to internet radio with Kenneth Anderson on Blog Talk Radio
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Video – Dr. Andrew Tatarsky on Integrative Harm Reduction – Paul Derienzo’s “Let Them Talk” Series

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment