Addiction Rehabilitation Tools

What Does Dr. Robert Lefever — Addiction Specialist — Have to Say?

Addiction Rehabilitation Tools™ will be doing a series of email interviews with addiction recovery professionals. Below is the first of these, highlighting Dr. RobertLefever, an addiction specialist from the UK.

**Disclaimer: Dr. Lefever is in no-way affiliated with Addiction Rehabilitation Tools™ (ARTools)

Bio (from  his website):

He created the first rehabilitation centre in the world to treat ALL addictions and he was the first to treat patients with eating disorders alongside those with drug and alcohol problems in the UK. He was the first to treat compulsive gambling, internet addiction and workaholism and he was the first to identify and treat compulsive helping

He is regarded as the pioneer of modern addiction treatment methods and rehab centres in the UK. In the last 26 years he has worked with over 5000 inpatients suffering with various forms of addictive and compulsive behaviours as well as stress and depression.

And now . . . What does Dr. Robert Lefever have to say?

  • In the UK you are considered a “pioneer of modern addiction treatment”.  You have seen thousands of mental health and addiction patients and authored 26 books.  In addition, you have a recovery story of your own.  With all your experiences related to addiction recovery, what are the one or two most important lessons you’ve learned?

Look at all your addictive behaviour and work the Twelve Step programme every day of your life.

  • How did you end up “healing” yourself?

I do what I suggest other people do. (See above.)

  • When you established your rehab center in 1986, how was it different than other centers or treatment programs of that day?

I looked at all addictive behaviour, not just alcoholism and drug addiction, and I looked for new therapeutic approaches in order to reduce relapse rates. I still do.

  • What were the therapeutic models the center implemented?

Straightforward Minnesota Method treatment, combining psychological treatment and introduction to the Twelve Steps for relapse prevention.

  • What do you think caused its success?

I treated patients with respect and dignity and they responded by behaving with respect and dignity. I demonstrated that rehab and recovery can be a lot of fun.

  • What services do you offer now?

Out-patient rehab, which I find just as effective as in-patient treatment – if patients are committed to changing their lives.

  • How does what you do now differ from the clinic you started?

I work on my own, using all my previous experience. Without that, I could not do the work I do now. Patients receive 100% of my time nowadays.

  • Describe the “one-to-one” experience a person receives when working with you to recover from addiction.

Emotional healing through a range of therapeutic interventions. Creating a transplant of skills from what they are already good at to where they need help.

  • What exactly is your “family support system”?

My own experience of running family groups, working with the families of patients and introducing them to Helpers Anonymous.

  • How can family members best help someone with an addiction?

By enabling the addict to take full responsibility for the consequences of his or her behaviour.

  • What can people do to successfully remain sober when they don’t have supportive family?

The same as people who do: it should make no difference. Recovery comes from individual commitment. 

  • What role does personal responsibility and accountability have in addiction recovery, whether it be from alcohol, drugs, gambling, or an eating disorder?

We are totally responsible and accountable for our values, our behaviour and our relationships.

  • Since you use the Alcoholics Anonymous’s 12 steps as a basis for what you do, how does seeing you help a person have a better chance of recovery over attending AA or NA meetings?  Perhaps another way of stating that is, what differentiates you from a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous?

Specific therapeutic interventions and support should more than double the recovery in AA and quadruple the recovery in NA, OA and other Anonymous Fellowships.

  • What specific tools do you provide to help people recover from addiction and live productive lives?

My own approach to emotional healing. This has evolved from the ideas of EMDR, psychodrama and NLP.

  • What about people who feel beyond hope?  Can they change too?  Can people who have never known happiness really learn to be happy?

Depression is the precursor of addiction. The Twelve Step programme treats both. Nobody, short of Korsakoff’s psychosis (wet brain), is beyond hope.

  • Can other centers or programs replicate your success?  Why do different addiction workers use different methods or models of recovery as they seek to help people?

Yes, if they do what I do. Each centre tries its own therapeutic approach. The crucial factor is the preparedness to learn from experience.

  • Who can receive help from you?  What about those who don’t have the money?

Anyone. I do free sessions between 12.00 and 14.00 every Tuesday at The Friends Meeting House, Hop Gardens, Leicester Square.

  • What’s the best way for someone to reach you?

By e-mail to

  • What are the best reasons for people to utilize your services?

Wanting to get well.

  • What recommendations do you have for people suffering from addiction who can’t visit you?  Are there things they can do, wherever they are, to begin to heal and live a sober life?

Work the Twelve Steps as best you can. Contact AA, NA or other Anonymous Fellowships.

  • Any other message you’d like to share?

Recovery has to be exciting and rewarding.

  • (And as a bonus, I didn’t ask a question for this one, but Dr. Lefever shared this advice, so I’m sticking here at the end)

The benefits of therapy have to be maintained by continuing regular attendance at Fellowship meetings and daily working of the Twelve Steps.

Thank you, Dr., Lefever, for sharing your thoughts about recovery.  

Dr. Lefever’s website is You can contact him at

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This is not a licensed or medically-approved program or treatment. Rather, this site teaches timeless principles, that if applied, can help people overcome their addictions or other bad habits. In the case of prolonged or intense drug or alcohol use, we recommend that you work with an addiction or medical professional, especially before you first stop consumption of the addictive substance. In the case of alcohol, not doing so may result in death. In the case of other drugs, a professional may be able to reduce the discomfort of withdrawal.
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