Reality Therapy for Addiction Recovery

At Pinnacle Peak Recovery in Scottsdale, Arizona, we provide cutting-edge, evidence-based treatment. One of our methods of care is reality therapy which is closely related to mindfulness training.

Reality Therapy for Addiction Recovery

Roots of Reality Therapy

Reality-based treatment is popular in addiction treatment programs. William Glasser developed this method with the belief that every behavior people engage in, including addiction, is about controlling your life and meeting five basic needs. The five needs include survival, freedom, love and belonging, power or recognition and fun. When a client discovers healthier ways to control behavior and meet these needs, the addiction abates.

Glasser's treatment focuses on the present since it isn’t possible to control the past. Instead, he helps people learn to control the present and the future more effectively so that they don't have to satisfy their emotions with drugs.

How Reality Therapy Works

An important component of reality therapy forming a bond with other human beings. People will always be around you. If clients can't learn to get along with others, they won’t be able to manage situations in the real world and the addiction will continue.
Reality treatment focuses on what the client can do immediately. For instance, talking about what a jerk your boss at your last job was may feel good, but it’s in the past. There’s nothing you can do about it immediately. Instead, reality therapy would encourage you to plan ways you can get along better with your next boss.

Reality treatment focuses on questions like, "What do I want/need to do now?" or "What do I need to change in my life to get the things I want?" The solutions need to be in the client's direct control. For example, saying that, "My mother needs to be nicer to me" is not a good answer because you can't control your mother's behavior.

Although the treatment avoids harsh criticism or blaming, the group leader and other members gently challenge excuses. Excuses stand in the way of connections to others. They also stand in the way of completing tasks and regaining control of your life.
The basic goals of reality treatment are finding healthy ways to get needs met, learning problem-solving skills, achieving a sense of achievement and self-efficacy and learning to evaluate the outcome of choices and make different decisions based on that outcome.


Half of all substance users who enter treatment are using again within 12 months. Learning mindfulness may help clients withstand the urge to use. Mindfulness is a holistic treatment that teaches a mental state similar to meditation. Its goal is teaching moment-to-moment awareness without judging it.

For instance, a non-mindful, judgmental approach to a craving might be, "I need my fix. I'm so weak. I can't handle this. I might as well just take a hit."

A mindful approach would be more along the lines of, "I really want to use tonight. I wonder why the cravings are strong. Maybe I'm nervous about my presentation tomorrow. But I can control whether I get high, and I'm not going to use."

Other Substance Abuse Treatments

In addition to reality treatment and mindfulness, there are several other treatment options at Pinnacle Peak Recovery. Some of them include:

  • Dual diagnosis to treat substance use and mental illness diagnoses
  • Evidence based therapy options
  • Experiential therapy
  • Holistic therapy

Is addiction ruining your life? Are you tired of having all of your choices made for you by drugs and alcohol? If so, we’re here to help. Call Pinnacle Peak Recovery at 866-377-4761 to begin your journey to addiction recovery.

Pinnacle Peak Recovery