What are Some Techniques for Overcoming Addiction? Photo

What are Some Techniques for Overcoming Addiction?

It’s easy for addictions to develop undetected.

No one intends to start a toxic relationship with drugs, alcohol, food, or sex. But often what begins as occasional release, becomes a pattern that’s no longer in our control.

In the beginning, you might tell yourself that you can quit whenever you want. But when the time comes, you may realize that quitting an addiction is much harder than you thought it would be. You may face the reality that, as they say in some recovery circles, addiction “has its hooks in” deeper than you thought.

If this is the case for you, you may be wondering what you can do to stop this unwanted behavior. You may even see the need for deeper-level change. Whatever stage of the journey you’re in, it’s helpful to know what lies ahead. Let’s look at what’s available to you as you take on these brave life changes.

Harm Reduction

This is often a phase in the recovery journey, even if you decide not to stop there. Harm reduction is an attempt to mitigate the risks of your addiction when you haven’t yet stopped entirely. This may involve setting certain rules for yourself, like:

  • Quitting “hard” drugs like cocaine, but still using marijuana and alcohol
  • Setting spending limits for gambling
  • Only drinking socially and not alone
  • Limiting the time you spend watching porn

But this doesn’t mean that engaging less, or differently, in addictive behaviors is safe. Harm reduction also “Does not attempt to minimize or ignore the real and tragic harm and danger that can be associated with illicit drug use.” Ultimately, the best path to full recovery involves treating not just the behavior itself, but what’s causing it in the first place.

Why Attempts to Control Addictions Don’t Always Work

Addiction is a complex issue that goes deeper than the substance use itself. It’s not purely physical – it’s also mental, emotional, and spiritual. But even on a purely biological level, quitting substances is a more involved process than simply choosing to.

When organisms that feed off the sugars in alcohol multiply in your gut, for example, they may scream out for more when you suddenly cut off their supply. In other words, this cause of cravings originally comes from your body. That’s why even if you decide to stop using, your brain may receive signals to do otherwise.

This is why so many people struggle to quit, no matter how much pain their addiction causes. As therapist Andrew Tatarsky puts it, “Addiction is the experience of losing control over oneself.” And without the ability to control our behaviors, trying to lessen their harmful effects may be easier said than done.

Professional Addiction Treatment

Addiction is related to underlying issues like past trauma and abandonment wounds. So most people can’t stop (or even slow) their drug use as long as this cause remains. That’s why it’s often the case that truly healing from addiction requires intensive treatment. And because this can be challenging and sometimes painful, it helps to take on this process in a supportive environment with the guidance of professionals.

This is especially true for those who are chemically dependent on substances. Quitting certain drugs, like alcohol and opioids, involves a withdrawal process. And depending on how severe your addiction is, this can be dangerous to do on your own. Specialized detox centers monitor you throughout the process to make sure you detox safely. And they can attend to your symptoms to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible.

Your doctor, therapist or rehab admissions coordinator can help you determine whether or not you need medically supervised detox before beginning treatment.

Managing Cravings and Symptoms

The first step in addiction treatment is soothing your symptoms so you can start to feel okay. Substance use disrupts our sleep, digestion, and brain chemistry – all the things that normally keep our mood stable. In order to access the deeper parts of yourself that need to change, you first need to feel safe and calm.

Treatment at The Sanctuary begins by calming your nervous system and adjusting to life at a more peaceful pace. Our clients find that after just a few days of spending time on the land, eating a clean diet, and keeping a normal schedule, they start to feel more balanced.

If you struggle with substance dependency, we can also offer options to help you manage cravings, such as:

  • Supplements and IV drips to cleanse and repair your cells
  • Mindfulness and psychology techniques to build mental resilience
  • Emotional support throughout your time in treatment

Adjusting to life without your old coping mechanisms comes with its share of challenging moments. One of the benefits of residential rehab is having someone to talk to anytime you hit a bump in the road.

Finding out What Causes Your Addiction

Once you’re feeling more comfortable in your own skin, you’re ready to start the real work of healing. This involves not just identifying your triggers, but what understanding what those triggers are triggering.

Substance abuse often masks feelings we’re unwilling to face. In a supportive treatment environment, you’ll have opportunities to dig deeper into yourself and get curious about what’s causing your addiction. And you’ll be surrounded by experienced addiction professionals who will guide you through each step of the process.

At The Sanctuary, we use a unique model of change that quickly gets to your core issues. This process helps you work through and release problems that have been stuck in your being, often for a very long time.

Techniques Rehabs Use to Treat Addiction

Addiction takes root in all parts of your being: your body, mind, soul, and spirit. While conventional rehab focuses on psychological treatment, at The Sanctuary, we take a holistic approach to all of you. Some of the methods we use to do so are:


Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This talk therapy helps you identify and change thinking patterns that aren’t useful to you. An example of this might be interrupting negative self-talk and replacing it with a more positive internal dialogue.

Meditation and Visualization

We begin each morning with a facilitated meditation practice. Research shows that regular meditation changes your brain waves to a more relaxed state. This also allows you to be more receptive to other aspects of your treatment, like talk therapy and energy medicine.

Brain Mapping

We’ll take a scan of your brain at the beginning of treatment, and again at the end, and compare the two. This way, you’ll get to see for yourself how your brain has changed over the course of your recovery journey. And, you’ll be able to better understand how your brain works under normal circumstances.


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR uses eye movements, combined with prompts from your therapist. This technique moves traumatic memories from the active part of your brain into long-term storage, so they no longer affect you so severely. EMDR has been shown to take effect in as little as three sessions.

Inner Child Therapy

Much of addiction comes from trauma that happened in early childhood. And as adults, we may not even remember what that is! Inner child therapy helps us reconnect with our child selves to identify and meet their needs, so we no longer express them in undesirable ways.

Group Process Therapy

Clients at The Sanctuary attend group therapy every morning. And every other day, this takes the form of a process group – an open forum for you to discuss anything coming up in your treatment process. Clients find this extremely beneficial for release, reflection, and feedback.


Nutritional Therapy

The physical aspects of addiction work both ways. Years of substance use take a toll on our bodily systems, which in turn makes us feel worse. And, issues along the gut-brain connection lead to mental health problems like depression and anxiety. We use diet as a powerful tool for steering the brain away from addiction and towards health.

Somatic Experiencing Therapy (SEP)

When our nervous systems can’t complete a process, it’s hard to let certain feelings go. Somatic Experiencing uses physical techniques to allow you to experience sensations and process trauma safely.


Trauma is stored in the body. And as such, it can be released from the body without always needing to rehash it mentally and verbally. At The Sanctuary, bodywork forms an important part of the recovery journey. Our therapists are experienced in addiction and trauma and are sensitive to your needs for both effectiveness and safety.

Practical Skills for Transforming Your Life

Throughout this journey, you’ll gain a wealth of awareness tools that you can continue to use and develop after you return home. Each week in treatment, you’ll attend sessions designed to empower your recovery journey. These include:

  • Topic-based group therapy sessions that teach mental wellness techniques
  • Nutrition education on the science behind the program, and how to maintain a healthier diet at home
  • Be Recovered transition wellness coaching
  • One-on-one meetings to discuss your transition plan, before you leave treatment
  • Virtual individual and group meetings for eight weeks after residential treatment

You Have the Power to Rise Above Addiction

Everything you need is already within you. At The Sanctuary, we facilitate the process of reconnecting with yourself so you can harness it.

We don’t believe that success is measured by sobriety alone. Being recovered is about creating a life that you truly enjoy, according to your vision for yourself. And our program empowers you to enter into a different relationship with yourself and others so that you don’t have to keep creating the same patterns that brought you here.

Discover your ability to change. Contact us today.

Kelley Alexander JD. photo

Kelley Alexander JD.  is the co-director of The Sanctuary at Sedona and has worked over the last decade to develop its innovative Integrative Addiction Recovery Program that has helped hundreds of clients to be recovered from addiction and co-occurring disorders. Through her pioneering work, Kelley and her team at The Sanctuary also work with clients to overcome issues related to codependency, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. A JD and former practicing attorney, Kelley holds a BA in World Religions and has done graduate work in psychology. She is an ordained minister, certified shamanic breathwork facilitator, and a graduate of the Four Winds Healing The Light Body School, the premier energy medicine program founded by Alberto Villoldo. Kelley has also been a student of Dr. Joe Dispenza since 2009. She is a member of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology and the Institute for Holistic Addiction Studies. She is a frequent lecturer at seminars and conferences throughout the United States.
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