Many addiction therapies fail. Numerous studies show that between 50% and 90% of all patients suffer from relapse within the first twelve months.

One of the reasons for this high rate of failure is that too many therapies are not balanced enough. They miss important elements required for sustainable healing.

What are the most important building blocks that any effective addiction treatment should be made of?

One of the most important element of a good addiction therapy could be summarized as “Realizing, Understanding, Forgiving”.

This creates the base for any healing process. First, it is about understanding oneself better.

Participants will analyze their lives and they will understand how and when their addiction developed.

The role of their family, former schoolmates, ex-partners, peers, as well as traumatic life experiences will be analyzed throughout a number of exercises.

They will realize and understand how far they use their self-damaging behavior to take revenge on themselves or on others.

They will learn strategies to free themselves from this vicious cycle and begin to move forward again.

They will also learn how their brain and their subconscious work and why (so far) it has been impossible for them to fight successfully against their addiction.

They will give up feelings of shame and guilt. All of this is achieved mostly through psychoanalysis.

Another important element in any addiction treatment is learning different strategies how to successfully rid oneself from addictive behavior.

New aims in life can play an important role. Addicts will do very practical and easy exercises in order to define new visions and aims for their lives and they will break them down into daily activities.

Participants will need to find new meaningful content in their lives – content that provides them with healthy energy and replaces the addiction that fills the emptiness inside them.

Another strategy within a good addiction therapy is relaxation techniques.

This is not just about simply relaxing, but rather about gaining access to the subconscious and using it to the patients’ advantage, in order to start and succeed in their healing process.

One of the big breakthroughs in any healing process will be learning how to cope with craving and relapses and how to prevent them.

A lot of time should be dedicated to this subject in order to make sure that addicts fully master the strategies.

Craving happens practically every day and will be part of an addict’s life for a long time. Relapses are the number one reason for addiction therapies to fail.

On the other hand, they can be an excellent opportunity for addicts to learn more about the underlying reasons for their behavior.

Good addiction treatments provide the participants with very practical, hands-on approaches to how to deal with craving and relapses.

Especially in the beginning of a therapy, ‘quick tips’ should enable addicts to enjoy progress from the very first day onwards.

They must be pragmatic, so they will provide the patients with quick and simple relief.

The tips are not yet about long-lasting healing – they only help making the first steps and giving a precursor into how it feels to be successful.

They serve to move the thoughts into a different, more positive direction.

Many of these strategies and tactics can be summarized as cognitive behavioral therapy – a part of psychotherapy which has helped millions of addicts around the world throughout the last decades.

The majority of addiction therapies require the patients to stay away from their drug from day one onwards.

However, in modern therapies such as described on there is a tendency towards progressively decreasing the consumption of the drug.

According to those approaches, giving up all addictive behavior immediately promotes strong relapses and yo-yo effects.

Forcing people to give up everything at once is one of the key reasons why so many programs offered in clinics fail so often. Patients lose touch with the reality of their lives.

Instead, in a number of modern therapies patients will take small steps away from their addictions every day. The pain is bearable and success can be more sustainable.

The brain will slowly get used to being free from addiction. Every type of therapy has its advantages and disadvantages.

Unfortunately, many therapists only use one of the many existing forms of therapy.

This is another reason for failure, because what works best for one person is different from what works best for another.

It can pay off for patients to follow two approaches in parallel, for example sessions with a psychotherapist and working through a self-help program at home.

Depending on the addiction, several building blocks of the therapy will be unique. Alcoholics need different support than shopping addicts.

Gamblers need help with their debt management. Bulimia and anorexia require training on a different perception of the body, etc.

However, the elements mentioned above are valid for all people suffering from an addiction.

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This article was written by Frank Lavario, founder and author of the Lavario programs.

Lavario offers coaching and self-help programs against gambling addiction, love addiction, alcoholism and others.