substance use

Somov's Approach, "Recovery Equation," Evaluated by IRETA

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

see full article at

excerpt from Andrea DeSimone's article:

"Recovery Equation is Pittsburgh psychologist Pavel Somov’s novel approach to drug and alcohol treatment.  His theory draws from a variety of teachings such as cognitive behavioral therapycognitive dissonancestress inoculation, and motivational enhancement therapy.  Somov views recovery as the sum of three components: the development of motivation for change, choice awareness, and use prevention skills.

Dr. Somov’s model has been implemented in the Allegheny County Jail and it has been well received by patients because it stresses useful skills that patients can put into practice almost immediately.  For example, clinicians first discuss the neurobiology and experience of cravings and how to disarm them.  The group leader may induce a craving by taking out a plastic bag filled with sugar and lining up the loose sugar with a credit card to simulate cocaine or heroin. Clients then have the opportunity to practice their skills in a safe environment.

Somov’s model uses one particular exercise to demonstrates that addicts retain control over their drug use.  Facilitators tell clients to imagine that someone is putting a gun to their head.  If they use, they will die.  Most people will admit that they would be able to refrain from using that one time.

This situation illustrates that the gun, an inanimate object, did not introduce the choice not to use; the choice was there all along.  The presence of the gun helped the client become aware of the choice.  Because many addicts have felt as though they were under the control of a substance for many years, this exercise can be very powerful."

Andrea DeSimone recently entered her second year of medical school at  the Rowan University of Osteopathic Medicine.  In June, she participated in IRETA’s Scaife Medical Student Fellowship, a three week intensive learning experience about addiction and its treatment hosted by IRETA since 1999.