Dr. Matt's Books
A Better High (3rd Edition)
Laugh, help, run, love...and other ways to get naturally high!
A Better High is a powerful tool that can change attitudes about alcohol and drugs. It actually teaches and encourages young people to get high — in safe, positive and natural ways. Author Matt Bellace holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and has been involved in youth drug and alcohol prevention efforts since high school. Most importantly, Matt is a passionate and effective speaker who presents his message with humor and lots of audience interaction. He captures that passion in the pages of his book. A Better High offers students, teachers and parents a positive way to talk about alcohol and drugs — and many wholesome ways to get high every day.
“Young people need to feel empowered in their schools and communities. It's not enough to ask them to stay away from drugs and alcohol. We need to show them positive things they can do instead, both for themselves and others!” – Matt Bellace
A Better High, Chapter by Chapter:
1. How to Get High Naturally.
2. Laughing, Smiling and Other Highs Better Than Cocaine.
3. Running, Surfing and Other Highs Better Than Weed.
4. Eating, Cooking and Other Highs Better Than Alcohol.
5. Helping, Listening and Other Highs Better Than Being Selfish.
6. Loving, Caring and Other Highs Better Than Hurting Yourself.
7. Unhealthy Natural Highs.
8. Creating Your Own Natural High.
National Geographic Kids
This or That? The Wacky Book of Choices to Reveal the Hidden You
Would you rather walk on hot coals or swim in the Arctic Ocean? Learn to fly a helicopter or learn to perform open-heart surgery? Be frozen and then thawed out in the future at the age you are now or live forever?
Welcome to the Book of Choices, where every answer brings you one step closer to discovering your hidden self. Want to find out your ideal career? The country that best suits your idea of the good life? The species of your inner animal? Through in-depth exploration and analysis of the inner workings of your mind, we'll peel you back layer by layer and you won't even realize it. In this hysterically fun and simple quiz book, you'll find out things about yourself that you don't even know we're asking. Each vividly colored page is so exciting, fun, and revealing that you will want to share with your parents, friends, and yes, even your brother and sister. So stop wasting your time trying to discover the true you--let us do it for you!
Available at your local bookstore or Amazon.com
Natural High Research
"What proof do you have that your program works?"
Many clients ask me if my “Natural High” approach works. Here are some answers to that question:
1) The Wall Street Journal published an article in February 2011 citing research from a number of colleges and universities showing a reduction in binge drinking following the creation of late-night substance-free actitivies. A major focus of my speaking program is to motivate students and institutions to support these events. In fact, there are at least 10 alcohol and substance-free groups that have formed at colleges and universities after being inspired by the story of C.A.L.V.I.N. & H.O.B.B.E.S.
2) The only controlled research that examined the impact of my presentation on high school students was done as part of a larger program evaluation for the 2000-2002 Teen Institute of the Garden State Leadership Conferences. The evaluation found that there was a significant reduction in alcohol and marijuana use three months after the conference. However, there are two major problems with this study. First, my presentation was one of twelve presentations that week, so it is hard to determine the impact my program had in comparison with the others. The other problem is that I analyzed the data! Yes, I helped supervise the study prior to the completion of my Ph.D. Click here to see a summary of the findings.
3) In my opinion, the best response is to refer people to the published articles that support alternative social activities for students as a means to reduce substance abuse. I say this because the ideal outcome of my presentation is when students (or staff) decide to create a student group dedicated to putting on substance-free activities -preferably at night- as a true alternative to the party scene. When there are enjoyable alternative activities available to students, there is a reduction in substance use. My presentation is all about motivating students to start such a program. This step cannot be ignored as it is one of the most important. Here are some research articles that looked at alternative activities:
- Alcohol-Related and Alcohol-Free Activity Participation and Enjoyment Among College Students: A Behavioral Theories of Choice Analysis
- Behavioral economic approaches to reduce college student drinking.
It is difficult to find nationally recognized speakers who address prevention topics (e.g. substance abuse) in a positive way. Here is my list of recommended speakers who are not only powerful on stage, but great people off stage.
Ty is just great! He's been involved in youth prevention since he was a youth himself. He is an alcohol and drug-free speaker and works for the prevention group Youth to Youth International.
Dr. Michael Fowlin (a.k.a. Mykee) is such a terrific speaker. I've only heard great feedback from students, teachers and administrators about his work. He speaks on the issues of race, discrimination, violence prevention and personal identity. His original and powerful presentations have been seen by over a million people.
Cara visits over 200 schools a year, sharing her powerful message on distracted driving and making healthy choices. She is one of my favorite speakers to run into on the road because she is genuine on and off stage.
Kevin Wanzer is a mentor of mine and a friend. He has been speaking to youth for over two decades and does an amazing job. His ALOHA program is the definition of nationally recognized - as he has presented it in all 50 states.
Eddie has been a youth speaker for over 15 years. He is a 3-time NCAA All-American athlete, a Gold Medal Winner on the US Track Team and the Founder of LifeRide Leadership Camp. More importantly, he is a great role model for youth and an excellent speaker on leadership and prevention topics.
Harriet is someone I've known for several years and recommend because of the rave reviews she has received from students. She can speak to almost any audience and on many different topics, from anti-bullying to body image.
Ed is a national level keynoter for all ages, but I’ve seen him do an exceptional job with student audiences. His presentations focus on attitude and leadership and are very well-received.
Scott Backovich is the real deal! He is a youth motivational speaker who seems wise beyond his years. He is witty and caring with a style that will appeal to any youth audience. I have seen Scott at some of the biggest conferences in the country. He presents on being a catalyst for your own dreams and other leadership topics.
R.E.A.C.H. is a unique organization run by youth speaker Javier Sanchez. It has a diverse lineup of youth speakers to engage any audience. I like the fact that R.E.A.C.H. often sends multiple speakers to a conference or school, but conveys one unified message on healthy choices.
The Fisher Agency is the premier bureau for speakers in the youth education market. I joined the bureau in 2005, but I've known about their great reputation for years. Chris Fisher and his staff have thoroughly studied speakers within the education market and will connect you with the best speakers available.
Josh Drean, an energetic and talented anti-bullying speaker, is a fresh new face on the speaking scene. Josh is a former mascot for BYU with a background in beatboxing and dancing, so he has no problem holding the attention of even the youngest of audiences.
Check out the C.A.L.V.I.N. & H.O.B.B.E.S. website, the most amazing college prevention group the earth has ever seen! They are about to turn 20 years old in October of 2013 and we are all very proud. Also, check out their Facebook page too!
New Social Engine
N.S.E is a group of student-led prevention groups currently on three campuses in Morris County, NJ: FDU Madison, Drew University and County College of Morris. Started by my longtime friend Dave Bratton, the groups kicked off in the fall of 2010 and already are doing some terrific programs!
NaturalHigh.org is a foundation that has provided almost every school in the nation with Natural High DVDs, featuring young celebrities who talk about being substance-free and the values of their natural highs. I’ve had a partnership with this wonderful organization since 2011.
The group that started it all for me! The Teen Institute of the Garden State, now known as the Lindsey Meyer Teen Institute, provides prevention and leadership conferences and follow-up activities for the students of New Jersey.
For help with eating disorders
Do you have an eating disorder or are you thinking of starting one? I hope not, but if so you may want to give my wife a call. Dr. Dara Bellace is a very talented clinical psychologist who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of eating disorders, obesity and related difficulties, including mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Bellace works with female and male preadolescents, adolescents and adults. She was on the faculty at Weill Cornell for seven years and now has a private practice in Princeton, NJ.
Natural Highs at Home
“My Best Natural High Day” (excerpt from Matt’s book, A Better High)
My birthday is in December. Just once, it would be cool to have a birthday during a warm-weather month or at least far away from a month during which everyone spends all of their money. When I was in my twenties, I used to think about the perfect day for my birthday and try to make it happen. I would do a few things that I love doing in December, like sleeping late, reading, and keeping my body temperature normal. And thenI’d visit my favorite restaurant at night. Over the years, I’ve expanded this concept of the “best day.” I’ve added ideas from friends, family and my audience members to come up with the best natural high day for each season. I’ve tried to make my list include experiences and items of all price ranges, from “free” to“great if money was no object.” I’ll admit the list is biased toward places that I’ve visited—they’re just too great to leave out. Hopefully my list will encourage you to consider your list.
Best Day: Summer
Location: Anywhere near the water—lake or ocean. My Favorite Spot is Ocean City, New Jersey (great waves, tons of stuff to do)!
1. Wake up late and get in the water (with a friend or someonewatching, of course). There are few things that will change how you feel faster than jumping into water first thing in the morning.
2. Make yourself some killer brunch food like chocolate chippancakes or a California omelet with avocado and tomatoes.
3. Go to the gym, ride a bike, or take a nap.
4. In the afternoon, get to the beach with friends and, of course,spend more time in the water. Try a new water sport, like skim boarding, bodysurfing or tubing.
5. Read, throw a football, sit on the beach or just stare at the water.
6. Have a summer romance.
7. End the day by grabbing a sweatshirt, sitting on the sand, andwatching the sunset. At the lake, it’s amazing watching the fishfeeding off the hatching bugs and at the ocean, it’s great to watch the water calm down.
8. Eat on the beach or get out on the town for a great meal. Nomatter where you are, in my opinion fresh summer tomatoes should be involved.
9. After dinner, go out people-watching. Walking the boardwalkor around town is a great way to enjoy the parade of all kinds of folks having fun.
10. Ice cream! My personal recommendations: Kohr’s Custard(Ocean City, New Jersey), Ben & Jerry’s (Cape Cod, Massachusetts),or if you’re landlocked, Ted Drewes (St. Louis, Missouri)and Graeters (Cincinnati, Ohio).