Recovery Model of Addiction


The Recovery Model of addiction treatment focuses on the whole person, mind, body, and spirit, supporting the strengths of the individual and family to build and achieve healing and enhanced wellbeing. In recovery, we cannot separate the health the body (physical and biological) from that of the mind (mental and emotional) or the spirit (sense of purpose and connection, both social and spiritual).


The Recovery Model values the individual’s sense of autonomy, viewing the individual as the expert on their own life. A key belief is that there are multiple pathways to recovery, and that each person is uniquely qualified to determine their own path. On their recovery journey, a person may rely on either peers or experts or both – or neither. Each individual has the choice of whom to include or exclude on their recovery journey.


The Recovery Model recognizes the power of positive relationships and social ties to build a sense of significance and belonging; it supports the concept of social construction of knowledge related to the development of intrapersonal intelligence, a critical aspect of all stages of recovery. In that regard the Model acknowledges that an individual’s background, history, and culture may impact how they see themselves, their understanding of addiction issues and treatment options and how they define recovery.


Integral in adhering to the spirit of the Model is understanding the role of trauma, in that trauma can be both a contributing factor to addiction and a consequence of addiction for an individual in a vulnerable state of being. While this idea may seem obvious, in the past,  sometimes addiction recovery models tended to rely in part on confrontation, an intervention that is now considered counterproductive.


Foundational is Kierkegaard’s notion that “Hope is Passion for What is Possible,” where a therapist maintains an attitude of respect without judgement and helps an individual or family take small steps to experience success and build resiliency. In essence, it is about hope, warmth, empathy, genuineness, and acceptance without judgement about who the person is. It supports the idea of both starting where the client is and following their lead to begin and maintain recovery. It is based on an optimistic view and a belief that people are at their core, good and valuable just because they exist.



Reference: SAMHSA 2014