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Addiction and its Treatment - An Integral Foundation

Learn about what works and why, when treating addiction

  Enroll in Course

THE FREE TRIAL OF THIS COURSE STARTING IN JANUARY 2017 IS FULL. IT REMAINS AVAILABLE FOR YOU TO TAKE AT ANY TIME USING THE LITE OPTION. THE FULL COURSE WILL BE RUN AGAIN STARTING IN MAY 2017.

Addiction is one of the most ubiquitous forms of mental health disorders globally. In many countries its burden on health care is so excessive as to constitute a medical and economic crisis. As a consequence of the magnitude of this disorder many scholars, institutions, and clinicians have desperately sought to understand and address this complex phenomenon. Although many theories of addiction exist and our explanation of addiction has become more sophisticated, there are still serious shortcomings in our understanding. Furthermore, there is such a cornucopia of conflicting theories of addiction that for treatment providers, therapists, and policymakers it has become exceedingly difficult to integrate this vast field of knowledge into effective treatment.

As a result of the “conceptual chaos” surrounding the field of addiction studies, numerous scholars agree that a paradigm shift is urgently needed. Consequently, there has been a movement in the last 20 years towards integrative and compound models, of which the best know is the biopsychosocial (BPS) model. Unfortunately, the compound models have not accomplished the much needed integration. The compound models do not provide a comprehensive meta-framework to integrate the diverse explanatory perspectives or to explain multiple determinants, and often merely provide sematic linking of concepts at best.

Moreover, many therapists working within an integrative framework often recognize themselves as eclectic or holistic. Without a sound orientating framework, this can result in syncretism, where therapists haphazardly pick techniques without any overall rationale and consequently resulting in syncretistic confusion.

A truly comprehensive model of addiction should provide a meta-paradigmatic integrative framework highlighting how various perspectives (etiological models of addiction) co-arise and link together, without having to reduce one perspective to another, thus leading to a integrative model of treatment that is based on sound philosophical foundations.

In an attempt to address the complex problems (conceptual chaos and ineffectual treatment) in the field of addiction studies and treatment, this course outlines the application of integral theory as a conceptual metatheoretical foundational framework for understanding addiction, as well as a meta-therapeutic framework for therapists.

The integral foundation of addiction outlined in this course will provide researchers, academics and therapists with a meta-conceptual architectonic of addiction and its treatment that is integrative, and inclusive of best theory and practice.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of the course students be able to explain:

  • A number of etiological models and theories of addiction.
  • A number of the chief conceptual challenges in contemporary addiction studies.
  • The challenges when applying addiction theory to treatment protocol design.
  • Metatheory and the metatheoretical research orientation.
  • The five basics elements or lenses of Integral Theory.
  • The triadic relationship of epistemology, ontology and methodology with the framework of Integral post-metaphysics.
  • The conceptual architectonic of an Integral metatheory of addiction.
  • The foundations of an integral meta-therapy of addiction.
  • Integrated recovery meta-therapy: A particular application of an integral foundation to addiction treatment and recovery counselling.

Upon completion of this students should able to articulate and demonstrate:

  • A basic understanding of the main categories of psychoactive substances and classification of substance use disorders.
  • The broad categories of etiological models of addiction.
  • What the current conceptual challenges are in addiction science and treatment design.
  • The theoretical foundations of integral theory.
  • Articulate addiction conceptually from an integral perspective.
  • Articulate addiction treatment from an integral perspective.
  • Present a written case study (theoretical and/or therapeutic) that demonstrates insight of the learning material.


“An Integral Approach to Addiction and its Treatment” is a brilliant overview of a truly integral or comprehensive approach to what has now become a crisis‑level epidemic in America (and indeed, much of the world). The great difficulty, up to this point, is that there are several different existing approaches to addiction and its treatment, and unfortunately none of them have worked nearly as well as it was hoped they would. This has left the field facing an epidemic with no agreed‑upon solution. Guy du Plessis takes one of the most comprehensive metatheories now in existence—that of Integral Metatheory—and shows how it can indeed integrate and synthesize virtually every major approach to addiction now existing. The immediate benefit of such a far‑reaching approach is a direct application to actual cases of addiction itself, and wherever this has been tried so far, the results are astonishingly effective. This course is for, first of all, either those who treat, or those who suffer from, a specific type of addiction. Guy walks us through a clear, easy‑to‑understand, step‑by‑step introduction to each of the major areas of addiction and its treatment, as well as demonstrates how this Integral approach draws together all of the hard-earned wisdom generated by each of the various schools of treatment—except now, all of this wisdom is brought to bear on each individual case, and not just a partial amount of it offered by any conventional, limited approach. And thus, second of all, this course is for anybody who simply wants to deepen their own self‑understanding. To understand addiction in depth is to understand every major component of being human, because virtually every one of them is open to invasion by addictive dysfunctioning—and accordingly this means actually understanding oneself in general, top to bottom, and that is what this Integral approach offers (and thus among other things, it ties together Western forms of Growing Up with Eastern forms of Waking Up and therapeutic forms of Cleaning Up). In short, this course is a thorough introduction to the major dimensions of your own being and awareness—many of which you very likely don’t even know exist!—and hence shows how you can bring a truly wise and compassionate understanding to “all of you.” Highly recommended!

Ken Wilber—The Integral Vision; Integral Meditation

Your Instructor


Guy du Plessis
Guy du Plessis

Guy du Plessis, BA, BA Honors, MA, PhD Candidate, holds a BA in Psychological Counselling (cum laude), BA Honors in Psychology (cum laude), and MA in Psychology (cum laude) degrees from the University of South Africa, and is PhD Candidate at Stellenbosch University. He is a registered psychological counselor with the HPCSA, and has worked in the addiction treatment milieu for over 15 years as an addictions counselor, head of treatment, program & clinical director, trainer, and researcher.

He is the author of the book An Integral Guide to Recovery: Twelve Steps and Beyond, co-author of Mind-Body Workbook for Addiction: Effective Tools for Relapse Prevention and Recovery, developer of the Integrated Recovery Program, and has published numerous academic articles in the fields of addiction treatment and studies, theoretical psychology and philosophy. He is currently writing a book on the Holism Theory of Jan Smuts and co-authoring a book with Dr. Stanley Block called The Architecture of Reality.

He is a Faculty Mentor in the School of Behavioral Sciences at California Southern University, Faculty member at the Wayne Institute for Advanced Psychotherapy at Bellarmine University, Researcher at Momentum Mental Healthcare SA, and Executive Director of the Mind-Body Bridging Institute.

His professional memberships include the APA divisions of the Society of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, Society of Addiction Psychology, Psychopharmacology and Substance and the Society for Humanistic Psychology, International Society for Existential Psychology and Psychotherapy, Society for Phenomenology and Existential philosophy, International Society for Philosophers, and an Affiliate Member of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association.


Class Curriculum


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Frequently Asked Questions


When does the course start and finish?
If you purchase the Lite version, it is completely self-paced and so you decide when you start, when you end and how long you take. If you purchase the Immersive or Academic versions, you take the course with other students and a Course Facilitator. For these versions, there are three starts per year - the beginning of January, May and September.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.