Addiction, also known as substance misuse or substance use disorder, is a debilitating disease [1]. This can come in the form of alcohol use disorders or drug use disorders.

Often, there is overlap between drug and alcohol use disorders.

When a subject is suffering from an addiction, they undergo rapid physiological changes in their mind and their body.

People who are suffering from addiction experience a range of ill health effects, not only because of the substances they are consuming but because of how the neural pathways in their brains are structured, thus amplifying the reaction to these addictive substances.

Unfortunately, addiction has been stigmatised in a way which means not only are people unable to understand its severity, but it also means that addicted people do not have the level of access to recovery facilities which they should have.

Additionally, society’s view on substance use disorder may even mean that some addicted people feel unable to seek help due to the social ramifications.

What is Person Centred Care in Addiction?

A young woman smiling in a hoodie and glasses

Person centred care is essential towards optimising someone’s addiction recovery. There are many different aspects which make a form of care or treatment to be person centred.

1. Multidimensional Treatment Approach

It is important to understand that no two cases of addiction are the same. Whether it is due to the causes of addiction, substance of choice, severity, symptoms, co-occurring disorders, or else, there are too many variables in order for one person’s addiction to be the same as someone else’s.

Therefore, addiction treatment requires a multidimensional approach in order to optimise patient experience when it comes to recovery. One care plan may benefit one person, but not the other.

A multidimensional and person centred addiction recovery programme will increase the responsiveness to treatment methods and increase their likelihood of recovering successfully.

2. Humanistic Approach

Person centred treatment was developed in the 1950s by a psychologist whose name was Carl Rogers.

His objective was to develop a method of treatment which was humanistic, which places more emphasis on the person and the subject’s unique problems rather than another matter.

In this case, a person-centred approach would treat the person, not only the addiction.

3. An Active Role Participation in Recovery

When recovering from addiction, it is imperative that the patient is also actively participating in recovery, rather than remaining passive and letting the licensed counsellors do all of the work for them while expecting results.

So, a person-centred approach to care or treatment is one which also requires active participation throughout recovery.

This can be done in a range of different ways.

Firstly, one of the objectives of a drug and alcohol rehab facility and health care provider should always be to help patients recognise that they have an addiction and that their cognitive and behavioural patterns – or habits – have an adverse effect on their substance use disorder.

This also means that they can change the severity of their dependence by reconfiguring some of their thoughts and behavioural processes.

4. Recognising the Pre-Requisite Abilities to Change

A person centred approach to recovery will help patients recognise that everyone has the prerequisite abilities to change and to ultimately recover from their addiction, and return to a life of healthy sobriety.

Someone who is addicted is unlikely to have been addicted their entire lives, and at one point of their lives were sober.

A patient centred form of recovery will help patients realise that they have the innate skills and knowledge to not only recover but sustain their recovery, but they may have to undergo various forms of therapy to overcome self-destructive tendencies in order to unlock these proactive and healthy lifestyle changes.

5. Reconnect Patient with Values and Self-Worth

Although the patient’s treatment will be guided by educated and licensed counsellors and therapists, it is not entirely up to these professionals to bring out change.

These therapists and counsellors will help patients reconnect with their values and self-worth, and enable them to bring about change for themselves.

As previously discussed, there will need to be a strong level of participation from both parties in order to facilitate the desired result.

What are the Benefits of Person Centred Care in Addiction Treatment?

A man looking into the camera with a neutral expression

There are a range of benefits to be had from a person-centred treatment approach when recovering from addiction. Some of these benefits include:

  • Personalisation: A personalised approach to recovery is undoubtedly the most effective way of overcoming substance use disorder. Patients will benefit significantly because their recovery plan is specifically tailored to their unique personal, mental, physical problems and characteristics. It will teach them not only how to overcome addiction, but how to sustain recovery and excel at other areas of their life (e.g. studies, occupation, relationships).
  • Increased responsiveness to recovery: A ‘one size fits all’ approach to treatment would mean that some benefit whereas others do not. With an addiction recovery plan which specifically targets issues unique to the patient, the patient will respond more effectively to these treatment methods, therefore increasing their participation.
  • More effective ways of solving root problems: Again, personalisation allows the counsellors as well as the patient to understand deep rooted problems which play a factor in their addiction and behavioural problems. Because of the individualisation, more time can be spent analysing someone’s history of mental and personal problems which contribute to their addiction.
  • Patients will learn to take accountability: Although addiction is a debilitating disease which requires thorough treatment to combat, recovering from addiction will allow patients to realise that they always have the capacity to overcome adversity and change for the better. Overcoming addiction can be the catalyst for becoming more proactive and ambitious in life.

How Does Person Centred Care Work?

Person centred care is not one form of therapy, but rather a treatment approach. In fact, a range of therapies can be employed to create a comprehensive person-centred treatment plan.

While a person centred addiction treatment plan may vary from one patient to another, there are forms of therapies which are fundamental when it comes to addiction recovery. Care for substance use comes in a variety of forms.

1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy [2] (CBT) is one of the most frequently implemented forms of therapy in addiction recovery programmes, and it is one of the best examples of therapy which is person centred.

In fact, it is a form of individual therapy, and is highly popular due to its high level of personalisation for patients.

Not only is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy used in order to treat cases of substance use disorder, it is employed in order to treat patients who are suffering from a range of mental health issues.

These mental health issues include anxiety, depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and more.

The purpose of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is to help the patient reconfigure their self-destructive tendencies.

These self-destructive tendencies can come in the form of mental or behavioural patterns which have a negative impact on their lives.

Examples include cognitive distortion, low self-esteem, suicidal ideation, self-harm, and compulsive activities such as gambling or indulging in addictive substances such as drugs or alcohol.

The objective is to help the patient realise why they may be thinking or behaving in these ways, and to help them overcome these negative habits.

A licensed counsellor or therapist will help patients develop newer and healthier coping mechanisms in order to construct a more positive lifestyle and a better quality of life.

2. Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) is another form of behavioural therapy and is closely linked to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, however, there are some notable differences.

The purpose of Dialectical Behavioural Therapy [3] is also to help change negative lifestyle habits and to develop healthier ones.

However, what makes DBT different from CBT is that while CBT helps patients understand and recognise their negative habits, DBT helps patients accept themselves and their imperfections.

It is especially useful for patients who are struggling to cope with intense thoughts and emotions. Patients who are suffering from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and other mental health issues are likely to benefit from DBT.

Some of the techniques employed by DBT include stress management and mindfulness. By becoming more mindful of one’s emotions, the patient can then become more rational and then more capable of overcoming negative situations in life.

Often, people turn towards drugs and alcohol to deal with their intense emotions in the short term, however, DBT will help patients develop healthier coping mechanisms.

3. Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing [4] is an interesting form of therapy because it relies on helping the patient realise their innate and intrinsic motivation and skills towards recovery. In a typical motivational interviewing session, the patient and counsellor (or interviewer, in this case) will discuss a range of topics related to their addiction.

These topics will focus on things such as why the patient sought support, whether their addiction recovery is motivated by intrinsic factors (e.g. the patient wants to improve their health) or by extrinsic factors (e.g. friends and family want them to change).

After consistently taking part in motivational interviewing and delving into the subject of their recovery, patients will hopefully understand more about their own values and their motivations behind recovery.

As a result, their level of participation and commitment towards recovery will increase, leading to better results.

4. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy [5] (ACT) is similar to DBT in some ways. The purpose of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is for patients to learn how to accept their imperfections and also to learn how to change. It is an action-oriented form of therapy.

It can sound paradoxical or counterintuitive, marrying the two ideas of acceptance and change together, because they are fundamentally different things. However, in the case of addiction recovery, one cannot happen without the other.

When it comes to acceptance, patients will learn how to come to terms with and accept their imperfections and their flaws which make them susceptible to drug and alcohol addiction.

Only when they accept that they are imperfect can they make the decision to change their self-destructive habits and foster a better and more sustainable life.

Many people often say ‘the first step towards recovering from your addiction is admitting that you are addicted’. And this is true.

Addicted people need to accept that they are suffering from a substance use disorder before any change can happen. They will stop denying their addiction, and once they have learned about accepting their imperfections, change can follow.

After patients have accepted their imperfections, they can then make the necessary changes to improve their life.

So, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy can also improve the effectiveness of other person-centred therapy forms because it will increase the level of responsiveness and participation to treatment methods.

5. Holistic Therapy

Holistic Therapy [6] is very different to the other forms of therapy which are mentioned in this list, however, one could argue that it is the epitome of person centred care when it comes to addiction treatment.

While person centred care is based on humanism, holistic care is based on holism, the consideration of the person as a whole.

What makes this so important and effective is that it differs from the traditional format of therapy where a patient and a licensed therapist discuss their problems. Holistic care places emphasis on not only mental health, but also physical and spiritual health.

Hence the term holism, holistic care aims to improve the well-being of each facet. The mental, physical, and spiritual are tightly interwoven and can have a significant impact on the other facet.

Much like the saying ‘healthy body equals a healthy mind’, holistic therapy acknowledges how one aspect affects the other.

Examples of holistic therapy are vast, but some of the most notable examples include:

  • Equine therapy: Equine therapy is an effective form of holistic therapy because studies show that spending time with animals can increase well-being. Additionally, patients will be able to exercise their trust in their horse, without having to verbally communicate.
  • Meditation: Meditation helps patients develop healthier breathing patterns and become aware of their own thoughts. Developing self-awareness can help them manage any negative feelings that they have instead of being consumed by them. Additionally, studies show that meditation increases the level of grey matter in the brain, which is needed to manage and process emotions among other cognitive functions.
  • Yoga: Similar to meditation, yoga can help patients develop healthier breathing patterns. Additionally, it can help them increase their levels of flexibility, strength, and mobility. Releasing muscular tension through movement can also reduce levels of stress and anxiety, whereas increased strength can increase self esteem and confidence.
  • Acupuncture: Many patients who are suffering from anxiety, stress, and other psychological problems may see that their problems also manifest physically. These are psychosomatic, psychological problems which become physical. Acupuncture can release muscular tension by relaxing them, making patients feel much more comfortable and loose in their day to day lives.
  • Nature therapy: Studies show that spending time outside, especially in green environments, can significantly improve a person’s well-being. Nature therapy can come in the form of adventure therapy, hiking, climbing, and so on. In these environments, patients can benefit from physical exercise while also exercising independence.

How to Recover from Addiction

Trees and a blue sky in Burgess Hill

In order to recover successfully from addiction, there are multiple stages which patients will need to undergo. Each of these stages will vary in their practices and are essential towards reaching a life of sobriety once more.

1. Admission Process: Entering a Drug and Alcohol Rehab

In order to enter a drug and alcohol rehab, a patient will need to undergo the necessary admission process.

Not only does this allow referral services and addiction specialists to understand the details of your unique case of addiction, it also helps the patient enter a rehab facility and health care provider which offers a high quality of care and is better suited to facilitating their recovery.

You can undergo the admission process with OK Rehab. While it may sound daunting, it is a simple process, and simply requires the patient to reach out by calling the number 0800 326 5559. Once the patient calls this number, they will be greeted by a friendly and trained admissions officer.

This admissions officer will then help the patient by conducting the pre-admission health assessment once the patient is ready.

It merely consists of answering a range of questions related to physical and mental health, addiction severity, substance, symptoms, requirements at rehab, and so on. This can be done over the phone and free of charge.

2. Medical Detox

The medical detox, also known as Medically Assisted Therapy [7] is especially necessary for patients who are suffering from physical symptoms of addiction.

Upon arrival at a drug and alcohol rehab, the patient will undergo the medical detox for around 7 to 10 days in order to help them overcome any discomforting withdrawal symptoms which they may have.

During this stage, the patient will be prescribed medication from an addiction physician.

These are used to treat withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and even seizures.

This is essential for patients who suffer significantly from symptoms because it will allow them to proceed and undergo therapy in better health and they will respond better to treatment methods.

3. Therapy & Counselling

Patients will then undergo a range of therapy and counselling in order to not only help them overcome addiction but to establish long term recovery. These therapies will vary from person centred therapies such as CBT and DBT to group therapy, family therapy, and much more.

Each form of therapy is a form of evidence based practice and each is designed to yield different benefits in order to create a comprehensive care plan.

When combined within one recovery programme, work together to optimise the patient’s recovery.

Patients will also undergo various forms of relapse prevention strategies. This will help patients gain more control when they eventually leave their local drug and alcohol rehab.

4. Aftercare

Patients will not be left to maintain their recovery entirely by themselves after they leave their rehab facility. In fact, they will be able to undergo an aftercare programme courtesy of their rehab facility.

The aftercare programme will continue to support the patient in the form of support sessions, 12 Step Facilitation Plan [8], access to fellowship groups (such as AA or NA) financial and occupational guidance, and more.

Studies show that people who undergo an aftercare programme are far more likely to recover without relapsing than those who do not.

While fellowship groups are of course groups, they often employ the 12 Step Facilitation Plan which is an active engagement strategy for patients to undergo.

It requires thorough participation from patients and an active role in order to complete each plan, and therefore it is effective in helping patients remain active in their recovery even when they have left their local drug and alcohol rehab.


[1] The Brain Disease Model of Addiction – Hazelden Betty Ford

[2] Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for Addiction – OK Rehab

[3] Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) for Addiction – OK Rehab

[4] Motivational Interviewing (MI) for Addiction – OK Rehab

[5] Acceptance & Commitment Therapy – OK Rehab

[6] Holistic Therapies for Addiction – OK Rehab

[7] Medically Assisted Therapy (MAT) for Addiction – OK Rehab

[8] 12 Step Programmes for Addiction – OK Rehab

[9] Alcoholics Anonymous

[10] Narcotics Anonymous