One Step to Recovery(formerly Recovery Zones) is a treatment system that utilises CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), Fitness, Mindfulness meditation and principles contained in recovery oriented mutual aid groups like SMART recovery and 12-Step derived programs. It has been created by our founders over twenty years of clinical practice.

It is a unique system which incorporates all the essential elements of evidence-based practice for addiction treatment. More than 5,000 rehab service users have undergone this practical treatment system. It has raised the bar for addiction treatment in the South East Asian rehab sector over the last decade and has been widely copied. At One Step Rehab Thailand, you will have access to this treatment method from its original author. Below, we will explain the different phases of this treatment system and how it works.

Treatment Phase 1

During the first phase of the One Step to Recovery program, clients learn to develop an understanding of the neuroscience of addiction and how certain regions of the brain are affected by addictive behaviors. You will create ‘mind-maps’ to present to your counselor and other members of the group, which will detail personal experiences of addiction.

Psychoeducation on the Neuroscience of Addiction

All the evidence now is pointing towards the fact that addiction is a brain-based behavioral disorder. Continuous drug or alcohol abuse causes dopamine blunting and profound effects on impulse control and reward circuitry in the brain. In the first phase of treatment we teach our clients the basics of addiction science. All the therapeutic methods we employ stem from this understanding.

Psychoeducation on the Neuroscience of Addiction

Mind Map 1: Addiction History

The next stage of phase 1 is to complete mind maps. The first thing we mind map is the history of our addictive or compulsive behaviors. It is important for us to disclose this history to our peers and counselors. We describe our cravings, obsession and drug seeking behavior as well as our previous unsuccessful attempts to quit and how we protect our addiction.

Drug seeking behavior mind map

Mind Map 2: The Costs and Consequences of our Addiction

The second mind map we do describes how unmanageable our life has become, and what the costs and consequences of our addiction have been. This centers on areas like relationships, work and health.

Graphic showing the effects of addiction on relationships, work and health

Treatment Phase 2

Phase 2 involves clients using CBT and other therapies to get an understanding of distorted thinking, developing healthy personal boundaries, and an understanding of the factors that commonly lead to relapse and a return to addiction.

CBT for Addiction

CBT is one of the most widely used therapies in the field of psychology but it needs to be tailored for use with addicted people. One Steps founders are pioneers in the use of CBT for addiction treatment. Their treatment method has been used for fifteen years to treat more than 5,000 people and is now the standard in Thai rehabs. Addiction focused CBT must help you understand your negative self-talk and addict core beliefs before helping you to dispute those core beliefs and find more effective ways of thinking and behaving. We use a tool called ABC (Activators, Beliefs, Consequences) which is color coded into ‘circles’ or zones which go on to create your discharge plan.


Phase 2 also concentrates heavily on understanding denial patterns. Any residential rehab treating drug, alcohol, or process addictions must help you isolate the specific ways in which you rationalize and legitimize your behaviors. Denial can be very obvious or quite subtle.

How people with addiction rationalize and legitimize their behaviors

Personas and Masks

Addicted people often develop personas (an external mask) to help them cope with life. While in treatment it is important to isolate and begin changing the specific ways in which you present an unreal version of yourself to the world. Everyone does this to some extent, but it is particularly pronounced with addicted people. Once we have identified our mask we can use CBT tools (such as below) to change them.

Relapse Prevention: Cravings and Triggers

All good addiction treatment programs should have a module on relapse prevention. Specifically, they should help you to understand your cravings and triggers. Triggers come in many forms, but they are usually sensory or emotional (external events or internal feelings). Most of the time addicted people relapse off the back of heightened emotional states, so it is important to use addiction-focused CBT and other tools to begin managing these emotional states, rather being managed by them.

Discharge Planning

Another important part of relapse prevention is discharge planning. At One Step we use a technique called Three Circles (or Zones). The Red Zone signifies things we must abstain from. The Amber Zone represents things we must be wary of. And the Green Zone contains things we should do in order strengthen our recovery.

Treatment Phase 3

In the third phase of treatment, you will explore the concept of Stages of Childhood Development. Many treatment centers teach that ACE’s (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and relational trauma cause addiction. However, this is misleading because most people with traumatic events in their past do not become addicted.

Addiction is more likely caused because of an inability to adapt to significant life events like trauma. Therefore you need to restructure the way that you think and feel about those events using CBT, bodywork and other modalities. In this way you can stimulate post-traumatic growth and set goals and a compelling vision for your recovery. (For Alastair’s lectures on Post-Traumatic Growth, see here).