Secrets to Addiction Recovery: Which Method is Right for You?

  • ​Discover the most effective addiction recovery methods from a 5-year industry veteran
  • ​​Unlock the pros and cons of self-guided research, 12-step programs, NHS referrals, and traditional counselling
  • ​​Get a peek behind the curtain into the secret bonus option most people don't consider
  • ​​Learn how to make an informed decision about which treatment option will work best for you
  • ​​Gain insights from personal experiences and the journey of helping clients overcome addiction
  • ​​Find out how celebrities like Eminem and Shia LaBeouf achieved sobriety through these methods
  • ​​Uncover the critical aspects of personal support, interaction, and accountability in the recovery process

After five years in the addiction recovery industry, I've observed various treatment options that can help individuals gain control over their drinking and drug use. In this blog post, I'll discuss the pros and cons of each method to help you make an informed decision about which one may be the most effective for you. We'll cover self-guided research, 12-step programs, NHS and GP referrals, traditional counselling, and addiction counselling. I'll also share my personal experience and my approach to helping clients.

1. Self-Guided Research

This includes books, articles, online searches, and other resources that can be done at your own pace.


  • ​Tailored to individual needs
  • ​​​Vast amount of information available
  • ​​​Accessible and affordable
  • ​​​Explores different perspectives


  • Quality and accuracy of information can vary
  • ​​Time-consuming and challenging to stay motivated
  • ​​Lacks personal support and interaction
  • ​​Conflicting opinions and information

2. 12-Step Programs (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, etc.)

These programs offer a structured approach to recovery and have a long history of helping people achieve sobriety.


  • ​Widely available and usually free
  • ​​Supportive community of peers
  • ​​Encourages personal responsibility and spiritual growth
  • ​​Reduces feelings of isolation
  • ​​Proven success over time
  • ​​Can be combined with other treatments


  • ​May not appeal to those uncomfortable with the concept of a higher power or feeling powerless
  • ​​Can be cliquey or dogmatic
  • ​​Success rates can vary

3. NHS and GP Referrals

This includes antidepressant medications and other treatments offered by healthcare professionals.


  • ​​​Access to professional guidance
  • ​​Treatment plans can be personalised
  • ​​Can be combined with other treatments


  • ​Limited availability and resources
  • ​​Wait times can be lengthy
  • ​​Stigma surrounding medication and mental health

4. Traditional Counselling (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Rehabs, etc.)

Professional counselling can provide personalised support and guidance in overcoming addiction.


  • ​Access to trained professionals
  • ​​Structured and evidence-based approach
  • ​​Addresses underlying issues and triggers


  • ​Can be expensive
  • ​​May require a significant time commitment
  • ​​Finding the right therapist can be challenging


After spending five years in this industry, I've seen tons of ways that clients can use to get their drinking and drug use under control and get their lives back on track. And of course, over this time, I've seen that some have been more effective than others and help clients in many different ways. So I wanted to give you in this episode of the podcast a bit of my perspective on each treatment option that you have and each of the different ways so you can make a more informed decision as to what one you feel like will work for you. So the ones we're going to cover in this episode is self-guided research, such as books and articles and just searching on Google. 12 step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, the NHS and GP referrals. And that also includes like antidepressant medications as well, then traditional counselling. So things like cognitive behavioural therapy rehabs and the effectiveness and pros and cons of all of these different ones. And also a bonus one that will come to you as we get towards the end that most people don't really consider. And we're also going to have a look at what worked for me after trying most of these different options, what option I really found most effective and what I work with when it comes to my clients and the journey and process I take them through. So we're going to get a peek behind the curtain into that process as well. So first we have self-guided research and that covers things like books and articles and researching online and just Googling around some of the pros of this method is that it can be done at your own pace and tailored to what you want. You know, your search in Google, you're reading the books, you're choosing things that you feel like are going to meet your needs. And that also means there's a vast amount of information and resources that you can find online, whether that's, you know, Reddit or Google or just searching around at different blogs and articles or podcasts, all that kind of stuff. Now there's no direct cost associated with that, which makes it accessible and anyone can afford it. You know, everyone has like 4G, 3G, five G, ten G on their phone, so you can always research it wherever you are. And that allows you to explore all these different perspectives and alternatives. And that's some of the pros of that one. But there's also the cons, so it may not provide you with the necessary structure and guidance or accountability that a formal treatment program that will offer that we're going to talk about a bit later. And also the quality and accuracy of the information may vary and it may be overwhelming to navigate. And you don't know if the sources are checked or validated or if it's based on scientific research or just someone's personal lived experience or what's really going on with the information is hard to corroborate what you're reading online. Also, it can be time consuming and challenging to stay motivated and disciplined when you're researching all these things and it can just be overwhelming and you don't really know which option to choose. And that's one of the reasons I'm even creating this podcast in the first place. And this episode also lacks personal support and interaction and which can be critical for recovery. And lastly, it you can have different conflicting opinions. You can listen to one podcast or read one book or read this thing or that thing, and it can just get a bit conflicting and confusing as to who to listen to or who's right. So that covers the self-guided research. And the next treatment method we're going to talk about is 12 step programs that covers Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous or the other Anonymous. They're all kind of 12 step based. So some of the pros of this treatment method is that there are, of course, widely available and usually free. So you can attend meetings anywhere in the world, even online. On Zoom, they have 24 hour meetings running in COVID, and you can tune in 24 hours a day to a meeting. And that was really, really helpful for people to be able to always have that access. There also offers a supportive community of peers who understand the challenges of addiction. So when you go to a meeting, there's a lot of people on the same page as you who are going through the same journey, which is really important. Also, it encourages personal responsibility and spiritual growth in the recovery process. So by going to meetings, you're really growing spiritually and taking that responsibility to show up. It can help you reduce the feelings of isolation and actually provide a sense of belonging because you feel like, Oh, there's a community here and you're able to be in that community and be part of other people's, not just you struggling on your own anymore. And you realise there's other people who are in this boat with you. Also one thing to mention of the pros of of the 12 steps is the long history, Right? It stood the test of time. It's been around for so many years. And that's unarguably a fact. And there's a massive pro of the 12 steps. And many people as a result of that have achieved their sobriety through that. Whether that's celebrities like Eminem or Sheila LaBeouf, you know, there's many people who have found the 12 steps to be useful and help them get sober. Also, it can be a way to supplement treatment so you can go to meetings and go to rehab and go to therapy like you can do the 12 steps as well as doing other things. It doesn't have to be mutually exclusive, although it can be a bit kind of cliquey. And this is the only way in a life sentence which we'll get to in a second with the cons. So some of the cons of the 12 steps is it may not appeal to those who are uncomfortable with the concept of a higher power or feeling powerless. You know, there's the whole God aspect of the 12 steps and that you're powerless and need to surrender to God. And, you know, we admit we are powerless over our addiction and our lives have become unmanageable. And that can be off putting for some people, finding meetings to be repetitive. A lot of clients talk to me about when they do go to meetings. It's not really suited to their specific needs and can be quite repetitive. Hearing the same stories or worrying about everyone else's stuff and getting caught up and trying to rescue the other members in the group and getting involved in their stuff rather than looking at your own stuff. The 12 steps may not provide the in-depth support that you actually need to deal with your complex issues or any co-occurring disorders like borderline personality disorder or PTSD or anxiety or depression may not help with those actual other stuff going on. And it may focus a bit too much just on the addiction and going through the step. Also, it may be off putting to people who don't want to label themselves as an alcoholic or an addict in front of others or just sit there and go, Hi, my name is Luke and I'm an alcoholic, That can be daunting for people and challenging for for people to actually have that label hanging over them and be associated with that for the rest of their life. Also, there's some perception that meetings can be cliquey or exclusive or unwelcoming, which makes it difficult to engage in the process. And also it may not be the best fit for people who prefer a more secular or evidence based approach to recovery. It's not so scientifically validated the 12 steps, and that can make it challenging and be off putting for some people. The next treatment method will go over is NHS, GP referral medication. Those in my mind will come under one umbrella. Some of the pros is that the access to professional healthcare and providers, they have a big network of people that you can talk to and it's usually free and low cost as an option because you're going through the NHS and they can refer you to specialised addiction services and community programs which can actually address co-occurring physical or mental health issues. So that's some of the positives of of the NHS. Some of the negatives is the long wait times. So it can be up to six months and then may delay access that you need to get to treatment. You may need help right now, but they put you on a waiting list. Or another thing I hear from clients all the time is that they don't take the right boxes. So because they're drinking and they have depression or they have borderline personality disorder or they're suicidal, it's like, well, just because one thing is going on, that team won't help them because they're drinking and they're drinking. Team won't help them because they have depression or they're suicidal or something else is going on. And each one, they don't take enough boxes for this group of people to get help. And they don't take enough boxes for this group of people to get help. And they just feel a bit stuck waiting in the system, let down by the system being pushed from pillar to post. So that can be a bit of a limitation of going down the NHS route. And you know, the NHS is also limited to resources and understaffing, which may mean that you don't get the quality one on one time you need with someone to actually make the change you need. Or you may be limited in sessions, you may finally, after all of this battle, go and get the support you need. And they're like, Oh yeah, you can only have six sessions. And it's like, Fuck sake, Are you kidding me? I just wasted all of this time, ticked all these boxes, finally got to this place where I can get help. And now you're telling me I only get six sessions and I go, get the fuck out? What is going on? So it can be really frustrating for clients and a lot of clients I speak to definitely go through that. All of this friction may result in feeling defeated or like you've failed and that you can't actually build up the momentum that you need. And lastly, there's the geographical restrictions that you may be limited to the specific services in your area. And some people and addicts that I've worked with actually move to a different area from Manchester to Essex or wherever it may be, different catchment areas to actually re-engage with support because they can't get the support in their local area or they've been turned down too many times. So the geographical restrictions can definitely be challenging. Next, we're going to talk about antidepressant medication. So this comes under the umbrella of GP and NHS, but I wanted to separate it because it's a bit of a different solution in some ways that some people seek and get prescribed from the GP. Some of the pros of medication can be help managing symptoms of depression or anxiety. There may be actually contributing to your addiction. There's the accessibility, you know, getting prescribed is just about going to your GP, having a talk with your GP and getting the prescription. And it can be used in conjunction with other therapy methods as well. And it may improve your overall mental wellbeing and support your recovery. And of course it's generally free as well to go and get the medication from the GP. Some of the cons, though, of antidepressants and antidepressant medication is that they may not be effective or safe when used in the combination of alcohol and other substance substances. So a lot of clients will take their antidepressants and drink loads as well, which is obviously a bad idea. Don't recommend that. Not medical advice. Go and talk to your GP. But it's important to note that a lot of clients do that, and that doesn't help if you're taking the antidepressants, drinking alcohol, which is already a depressant in itself, then taking antidepressants. It just creates a challenging cycle. Also, they may only provide a temporary solution without actually addressing the root causes of your drinking or your addiction. They just kind of numb out your emotions the same as the drinking. So you don't feel particularly good. You don't feel particularly bad. You haven't really underline or addressed the underlying causes of what's going on. You're just taking the medication just to keep your head above water. Also, there are potential side effects as there is with any medication or drug or anything you're putting in your body which can be associated with long term use and being on it for a long time. That leads into the overreliance on the medication, which may hinder the development of healthier coping strategies. So a lot of people who take the medication as a temporary solution or because their GP recommended it, it's like, well, when does that end? When are you going to come off it and how is that going to work? You're going to be on it for the rest of your life. At some point you're going to have to stop taking the medication and learn to manage your emotions anyway. So you might as well just not take it in the first place and learn to manage your emotions. Unless you have been diagnosed psychiatrically with depression, then you may want to manage that balance. But generally, from the perspective I'm talking about in the here and now, that's when a GP won't refer you to a service that is helping you with addiction. They'll just give you the medication because you're depressed when really you need to deal with something else. So I'd recommend talking to us about your situation. We can specifically get into the weeds and the details and give you a specific recommendation on your situation once you've been assessed. The next treatment method we're going to talk about is traditional counselling. So an example of this would be cognitive behavioural therapy or person centred therapy. This is a type of therapy where you go and see a client ideally privately and just have traditional therapy that's not focussed in any specific direction. Some of the pros of this approach is that it's evidence based and widely recognised and effective form of therapy, especially CBT therapy. Also, the person or the individual such as yourself can identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours, and you also get 1 to 1 sessions that are personalised to you and your individual needs. And you can obviously have this counselling in conjunction with other treatment methods like going to a traditional counselling and AA for example. And also you can continue on for as long as you want. So it's open ended because you're paying for it privately is open ended and you don't get kicked out after six sessions and you can continue as long as you want without there being a problem. Obviously, if finance permit that, it can help to address co-occurring mental health issues that contribute to your addiction, that anxiety and depression. And it's not just limited to one specific area. And also you can access the professional guidance and support that you need in a confidential setting, which is really important, that is confidential and 1 to 1. Next up, we have the cons of traditional counselling. So some of the cons would be that it may not resonate with those who prefer to work with a therapist who has personal experience with addiction. So if you just go to a normal counsellor, you may not be talking to someone who's been through their own journey of addiction or understand addiction. Also, it may be expensive, especially if you have lots of sessions over an extended period of time because it's privately funded. Some therapists don't specialise in addiction, which can limit their ability to support and provide effective guidance to you. It also lacks structure and a structured program and community support that can be found in other treatment methods like the 12 steps or Rehab. And it may not really provide you the practical tools or in-depth understanding of addiction specifically that some people would seek or that you may be seeking. And it may require a significant time commitment and patience to see results. Next up, we have rehab. That's the next treatment method. We're going to talk about. Some of the pros of rehab is that it provides a safe and structured environment away from your triggers and stressors. So you're going in an actual place where you're away from daily life and you have that safety bubble of rehab. It also offers comprehensive treatment, including medical supervision and therapy and support groups and having someone on hand 24 hours a day. Also, it allows you to stay focussed and dedicated for a period of time to work on your recovery. You know, you're in rehab for those 28 days. Everything else is shut out and that's all you're focusing on. Also, you get access to experienced professionals who can provide you with that guidance. And in all the rehabs I've worked at, you know, there is that 24 hour support. So no matter if you're having a meltdown in the middle of the night or a craving or something's going on, there's always a recovery worker to help you, support you through that process. And that can be really helpful for people to have that medication, to have that 24 hour support and to have that person there taking care of all your food and all of your other needs. And you can just literally focus on your recovery for those 28 days. That can be really, really powerful for some clients and really, really needed. Some of the cons of rehab is obviously the cost. So in the rehabs I've worked out have been about five grand a week, which is about 20 grand for the 28 days. And that can be a big barrier for people to come up with £20,000 and it's normally on short notice. So it's not like you need to save up for rehab. You're in the shit. You've had some kind of crisis and your family and people around you are like, Right, you need to go to rehab. So you're going into rehab and then you or everyone else around you has to come up with that money and there's no guarantee you're going to be clean when you come out or that you're going to stay clean when you come out and it's a big chunk of money to pay for. Also, you may require to take significant time off work, for example, like a month off work, which can be challenging for some individuals. And you have to not only take the time off work, but you also have to explain it why you're going to be off work for a month. John That can be a challenging thing to do for some people. And also leaving the kids for for a month can be challenging or your partner or the people around you leaving that routine for a month can be difficult. Also, there's the aspect of the rehab bubble. So that may not prepare you for your challenges of maintaining sobriety when you get out into the real world. Rehab bubble is just the aspect of being in that safe container where you're not around alcohol, you're not around drugs, you're there for 28 days, you have no access to any of that stuff. Then when you get out or back to your normal life where you're walking past the off licence, you may have alcohol at home, you have a party coming up, you may have different stuff happening and you're not in that bubble anymore. And that can pose a risk to clients relapsing and returning back to their old environment. And that can be triggering for them because they may not have resolved those underlying issues and they may not actually integrate that change into their life. So that can definitely be challenging for people. And another thing to mention is that because of the cost and the expensive situation of rehab, a lot of people may shorten their stay. So they may say, Oh, I'm only going to go in there for a one week detox and I'm only going to pay five grand or I'm only going to go in there for two weeks and pay ten grand because that's all I can afford. But yes, that is completely fair and justified. That is all you can afford. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't consider mixing that with other treatment methods when you get out and continuing your treatment. I always say to clients that you should consider rehab to be like a long term thing, not just the 28 days and take it seriously when you get out in terms of integrating that into your life. One of the last treatment methods that I'm going to mention there was the bonuses, one that not many people really take into account, and that's doing nothing right? That is an option. Let's just do nothing, do none of these options Luke's talking about. And some of the pros of that is there's no immediate cost or time commitment because you're not doing anything. And you also get to avoid all the potential discomfort associated with actually confronting your addiction and participating in treatment. And there's no pressure to change or adapt to any new routines because you're just staying the same, just drinking or using drugs, and you're maintaining that sense of familiarity and control. In the short term, you're certain you keep that certainty of, I no, I'm just going to get the same results. I'm just going to keep drinking and using drugs. But some of the cons of doing nothing is that allows your addiction to worsen and potentially cause severe physical and emotional and social consequences. If you do nothing, things are keep going to keep getting worse over time. And that may lead to you actually eventually needing more intensive and costly treatment such as rehab. Like we went over the drinkers continuum. If you're a binge drinker or a weekend drinker, you know you may not have counselling or not choose any of these options and just wait and then you're going to get worse and worse and worse until you become dependent. And then you're going to then need to go into rehab and need to be a treatment. So doing nothing also has a big cost as well, not just financially, but the phantom costs of emotionally on your family, on yourself, on your ability to recover later on down the line. Also, there's the increased risk of your relationships and life just becoming more and more challenging. And I think one of the most important things when you don't do anything is that you miss the opportunity for personal growth. You deny your potential upside and the ability to actually get your life back on track and have that personal growth and live a healthier life and be more fulfilled. You know, and I can speak from personal experience that the upside is really worth it. You know, I've been sober over six years now, and I definitely think that the upside is 100% worth it. So now I want to tell you a bit about what works for me, what option I used and how I work with a lot of my clients and the journey I take them through. A lot of the main factors that make my clients successful is having a structured process. Being able to dig deep with a trained professional and get to the reasons why and integrate the change they're making into their daily life. So they're the three keys that I focus on in my programs. Now, addiction therapy specifically, is what really worked for me. Having a therapist who had been through their own journey of addiction and having specialist therapy that was focussed on the addiction is important, and a lot of clients who come to me who have had traditional counselling, they may have spoken about relationships or grief or different things have gone on in their life, but they haven't necessarily focussed on looking at their life through the lens of addiction and having someone who's been through that journey and who's taken them through a structured program. And that's really, really important. And that's what really helped me. And the key that I found in my own recovery is when I worked with a therapist who had that personal experience, who had worked in rehabs, who had worked with loads of clients, and who understood that it's not a linear process and there's going to be setbacks and it's okay to have slips, but we're going to learn from those triggers and we're going to overcome things as we go. That's just really, really crucial to find in a specific treatment method. Also, the ability to process the guilt and shame from the past and break that shame cycle and the cycle of guilt and start to lift that weight of the world from your shoulders and process what's going on underneath, put that stuff to bed and have the closure. Also, rebuilding trust and trust with not only yourself, but trust with your loved ones and leading to improve relationships and self esteem. Clients do dig deep with a trained professional, really get to the root causes of their addiction and not just the symptoms. And it's important to work with a therapist such as myself or one of our team who's been through addiction and experienced it and has that personal experience. So they're not just reading from a textbook. They understand, you know, when you say things to them like, Yeah, I completely understand, but I was just triggered and I just went and used right. Understanding that it's not always logical and that we're doing it from an emotional place and can really help you change and manage those emotions. Also socialising. You know, we're in a big culture that focuses a lot on drink and cocaine and drugs and it's just so embedded in our culture. So learning how to socialise without relying on alcohol is really important and something we go over with clients. Also managing work, stress and coping effectively and learning the tools you need to be able to actually manage the different challenges that come up in life. And ultimately, you know, we guide and take clients from having craving to having a choice. You know, that's why I always say to clients, I have the choice to go and use drink or drugs at any point, but I have a craving. I don't wake up in the morning really needing to go and do it anymore. Yes, I can go and walk out my house and I can score drugs or I can go and drink whenever I want. But that's my choice. And I have the autonomous choice not to do that in in every moment because I'm free from those cravings, which is so crucial to in finding a specific treatment method. Also, the trained professionals with the personal experience can then provide tailored support and guidance to your needs. Because they've been through it. They understand where you're at. They're further ahead in the journey and they can actually take you and guide you along that process. An important part is the integration, so it allows you to integrate your skills that you're learning into your daily life so you can actually practice them in the real world, which again increases the lasting change. Some of the cons of addiction specialist therapy is there may be more expensive than other therapy options or group based programs or it definitely does require commitment and the willingness to confront those issues and emotions and to put in the work and make the change also that success is not linear and you may have setbacks and emotional challenges along the way that you have to work through. And process is not going to be a straight line. And also, finding the right addiction therapist can take time and research to find someone who is a good fit. Not all addiction specialists may have the same level of experience and expertise, so it's important to do your own research and ask them questions and engage with them and make sure they know what they're talking about and that they've been through it themselves. So it may require a significant time commitment and persistence to see the lasting results. And that's also important to bear in mind is that the change lasts longer, but it does take a bit more time to actually make that change. So now we've been over all the different treatment methods. It's not like you necessarily have to choose one or the other. You know, you can integrate some of them. You can do our program and go to meetings or you can do our online program, or you're working with a counsellor or you can go to rehab for two weeks and then continue counselling and meetings when you get out. These are not necessarily one or the other. They're layers and a lot of clients and people layer them on top of each other. Definitely having a think and reflecting on all of the different options and which ones would be right for you and start to build your own treatment plan. And if you want help doing that, you know, you can book in a consultation in our diary and in my diary and we can have a talk through your specific situation. And I would talk through what's going on and assess your underlying symptoms and triggers and your mental health conditions to really identify what's holding you back so you can actually get your drinking or drug use under control. And we'll explore and talk about all these different options in a bit more detail and through the lens of your specific situation so you can really find the best path based on your unique needs. Because I really believe, you know, you should be able to exercise your right to choose your own treatment method. Maybe our program is right for you. Maybe rehab is best. You know, we'll give you an objective opinion on what we think is best for you. And yeah, of course, you'll learn about our unique approach, how we combine the 1 to 1 counselling sessions with the self-paced video program and the psychoanalysis of your worksheets and the accountability phone calls and really package all of that stuff up to get the best results for our clients. Of course, we'll tell you a bit more about that and you'll also receive the expert guidance on navigating the financial landscape. You know, money is an important part. Some clients money is no is no object. So you want to be able to choose the right option to make the best for your resources. So please go to our website and book a consultation call and you can get in touch and we can talk through it all. And thanks for listening.

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