Shifting the Addiction Paradigm



April 1, 2022

9:00 am - 5:00 pm EST

In Person

The Skirball Cultural Center

Los Angeles, California




General Admission: $150

In-person and virtual


Refund Policy: If canceled within 24 hours, a full refund will be issued. If canceled after 24 hours, a credit to a future Ellenhorn conference will be awarded. 

In the four years since Ellenhorn’s Shifting the Addiction Paradigm conference series began with a focus on “Attachment and Addiction,” we have seen massive changes in the field of problematic habits. Indeed, “harm reduction,” a term that was considered practically taboo when we held that 2017 conference, is increasingly being permitted space in the language of addictions treatment; harm-reduction clinicians are being offered room to speak at more “traditional” treatment conferences; and an ever-growing number of programs are adding elements of the approach to their work. Believe it or not, even the notion that problematic habits might have roots in issues of early attachment was only a burgeoning concept back then—contrast that alone with our present focus on trauma and attachment trauma and you grasp the massive shift. We now see a lot of what we predicted and a lot of what we hoped for creeping into new paradigms, some of which are truly revolutionary, others that are the “same old” wrapped in new packaging. As we attempt to continue to push the paradigm shift in the area of problematic habits, it is our goal at this 2021 conference to bring together experts at the vanguard of new, humanistic and noncoercive forms of care who will help keep this enlightening, liberating endeavor on course.


8:30am - 9:00am: Registration and Breakfast

9:00am - 9:15am: Opening Remarks: Ross Ellenhorn, PhD, LICSW, Ellenhorn, Founder and CEO.

9:15am - 10:30am: Shifting the Addiction Paradigm. Ross Ellenhorn, PhD, LICSW, Ellenhorn, Founder and CEO.

10:30am - 10:45am: Break

10:45am - 12:00pm: The Scientific Revolution: From Addiction as Disease to Psychobiosocial Process, From Abstinence-only to Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy. Andrew Tatarsky, PhD, Center for Optimal Living, Founder and Director.

12:00pm - 1:00pm: Lunch

1:00pm - 2:15pm: Sustainable Concepts as Harm Reduction Organizations. Sam Rivera, New York Harm Reduction Educators (NYHRE) and Washington Heights Corner Project (WHCP), Executive Director

2:15pm - 2:30pm: Break

2:30pm - 3:45pm: The Use of Psychedelics in the Care of Problematic Habits. Julie Holland, MD, Private Practice, Psychiatrist and Author.

3:45pm - 4:15pm: Discussion Panel




Sam Rivera has more than 29 years of cutting-edge service-provision experience in social services. His primary areas of expertise include criminal justice/reentry, HIV/AIDS, harm reduction, addiction/recovery, and mental health. He currently serves as the executive director of New York Harm Reduction Educators and the Washington Heights Corner Project, two merging harm-reduction organizations that provide services to active drug users and sex workers in northern Manhattan and the South Bronx, many of whom are low income, homeless, people of color and/or LGBTQ. He has dedicated his professional career to social justice, ameliorating the harms associated with the War on Drugs, racism/sexism, structural inequality, and mass incarceration, and is determined to continue to work to end systematic barriers for populations that are most vulnerable.


Andrew Tatarsky, PhD has developed Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy (IHRP) for treating the spectrum of risky and addictive behavior. IHRP brings psychoanalysis, CBT and mindfulness together in a harm reduction frame. The therapy has been described in his book, Harm Reduction Psychotherapy: A New Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Problems, and a series of papers. The book has been translated into Polish and Spanish. He holds a doctorate in clinical psychology from the City University of New York and is a graduate of New York University’s Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. He is Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Optimal Living in NYC, a treatment, education and professional training center based on IHRP. He is a founding board member and twice Past-President, Division on Addiction of New York State Psychological Association and Member of the Medical and Clinical Advisory Boards of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.  Andrew has trained individuals and organizations in 18 countries. His writing, teaching, clinical work and leadership aim to promote a re-humanized view of addiction and a harm reduction continuum of care that will extend help to everyone who needs and wants it where ever they are ready to begin their positive change journeys.

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Ross Ellenhorn, PhD, LICSW is trained as a sociologist, psychotherapist, and social worker, he created the first fully-operating intensive hospital diversion and wrap‑around program in Massachusetts. Dr. Ellenhorn later created and led one of the first public Programs for Assertive Community Treatment teams in the state.

Dr. Ellenhorn has authored two books on human behavior. Parasuicidality and Paradox: Breaking Through the Medical Model addresses psychiatric hospital recidivism and techniques for diverting hospital use. It was published by Springer Publishing in 2007. His most recent book, How We Change (and the Ten Reasons Why We Don’t), takes a deep dive into the dynamics that influence all human change. Published by Harper Collins, and in seven different languages, How We Change was released in May of 2020. He has authored numerous articles, gives talks and seminars throughout the country, and provides consultation to mental health agencies, psychiatric hospitals and addiction programs.

Dr. Ellenhorn is the first person to receive a joint Ph.D. from Brandeis University’s prestigious Florence Heller School for Social Welfare Policy and Management and the Department of Sociology.

Julie Holland, MD

Julie Holland, MD is a psychiatrist specializing in psychopharmacology with a private practice in New York City. Her book “Weekends at Bellevue” chronicles her nine years running the psychiatric emergency room as an attending physician on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine. Frequently featured on the Today show and CNN’s documentary series “Weed,” Holland is the editor of "The Pot Book" and "Ecstasy: The Complete Guide."  (Both books are non-profit projects that help to fund clinical therapeutic research.)

Dr. Holland, now their medical advisor, was the medical monitor for several MAPS PTSD studies utilizing MDMA-assisted psychotherapy or testing strains of cannabis with varying CBD/THC ratios. She has worked for decades on US drug policy reform based on harm reduction principles. Her 2016 book, “Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You're Taking, the Sleep You're Missing, the Sex You're Not Having, and What's Really Making You Crazy” has been translated into eleven languages. Her most recent book, “Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, From Soul to Psychedelics” was published in June 2020. Holland sits on the scientific and medical advisory board of several cannabis and psychedelic corporations and is a member of the International Society for Substance Assisted Psychotherapy.




Shifting the Addiction Paradigm

Ross Ellenhorn, PhD, LICSW

Cracks in the medical model of addiction are forming. And that’s a good thing. It means the chance for greater creativity, treatment choice, and freedom in decisions on what to do about substances in one’s life. It potentially means a decrease in stigma, and a much more nuanced view of the use of substances. It fractures a cookie-cutter approach to the use of substances and the engagement in other habits, allowing for care, if one wants it, to be truly individualized. We are heading towards a paradigm shift. We can see the outlines of the next model, one based on psychotherapeutic values, a non-judgmental curiosity about why a person might engage in seemingly self-destructive behavior, a belief that a person is making the bests choices they can when they use, a total respect for the autonomy of the individual, and a firm belief that lasting change never happens through confrontation or coercion. This talk reviews both the ways in which the previous paradigm is shifting and how to locate the new forms of thinking.

Learning Objectives:

Following the presentation, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify how the disease/medical model of addiction is being replaced by a model that can be more successful in engaging individuals who have rejected treatment for their problematic behaviors;

  2. Paraphrase what works in treatment and that confrontation or coercion does not result in lasting change;

  3. Explain changes practitioners can make in treatment for clients with problematic substance use.

The Scientific Revolution: From Addiction as Disease to Psychobiosocial Process, From Abstinence-only to Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy

Andrew Tatarsky, PhD

Working as a clinician on the front lines of the “addictive behaviors” field for more than 40 years, I have wrestled with one particular question: Why have we done such a poor job of helping people who struggle with drugs? Over time, I have come to believe that it is our field’s dominant view of addiction as a “disease” that has been largely responsible for our failure to effectively support those who need and want our help. It is this disease model that has given rise to a treatment field dominated by an “abstinence-only” approach that is unappealing, ineffective and, in many cases, harmful to problematic drug users because it simply does not meet them where they are at in their lives. 

The good news is that there is an alternative psychobiosocial view of addiction as a multifaceted response to the conditions of our lives and the emotional and physical impact of such conditions. This alternative paradigm supports an evolving approach that I call Integrative Harm-Reduction Psychotherapy (IHRP), which I have developed to help those who struggle with problematic drug use and other risky behaviors. 

My conference presentation will include discussion of the psychobiosocial model of addiction as well as an overview of the seven therapeutic tasks of IHRP. I will also demonstrate some powerful techniques that participants can begin using immediately in their own practices.

Learning Objectives:

Following the presentation, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify four core principles of the harm reduction framework;

  2. Identify four of the seven therapeutic tasks of IntegrativeHarm Reduction Psychotherapy;

  3. Recognize “urge-surfing”, a powerful technique for sitting with urges and interrupting action to facilitate healing, growth and positive behavior change.

Sustainable Concepts as Harm Reduction Organizations

Sam Rivera

During this session, participants will discuss, identify and analyze sustainability strategies that relate to their specific origination and or project/program. We will explore project relevance, acceptability, political expediency, viability and adaptability of the project. Other factors such as financial analysis, risk analysis, communication and network determination, operational plan, training, human resource development and capacity building, environmental and community analysis all help to determine sustainability. The philosophical and analytical framework of sustainability draws on and connects with many different disciplines and fields and has tended to be problem-driven (pathological/”what’s wrong”) we will create a shift in this way of thinking and overall approach by looking at sustainability through a lens of wellness (“what’s well”) and working from that place. 

Learning Objectives:

Following the presentation, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe strategies for nonprofits that plan to stay open over the long-term;

  2. Use leadership transitions and succession planning strategies;

  3. Calculate a gaps Analysis: *Review Where You Are *Determine Where You Want to Be *Identify the Gaps.

The Use of Psychedelics in the Care of Problematic Habits

Julie Holland, MD

Cognitive rigidity is a feature of many psychological presentations, from compulsive behavior to delusional beliefs. What if, however, there was a way to loosen those strictures of cognitive structure so that clients could reformulate their beliefs and behaviors in order to align them with their true selves and needs? By working with people where they are, and not insisting on abstinence as a prerequisite for getting help, we can turn lives around, one existential transformation at a time.

Learning Objectives:

Following the presentation, participants will be able to:

  1. Explain transformational medicines;

  2. Describe how to enable neuroplasticity, aka learning;

  3. Outline how harm reduction strategies fit into the psychedelic treatment paradigm.


Continuing education credits are pending.

Inquiries regarding exhibiting and supporting opportunities, please contact Dave Werbeck at