Milieu Therapy for Addiction Treatment

Milieu Therapy for Addiction Treatment

Author: Hugh Soames    Editor: Hugh Soames    Reviewed: Philippa Gold

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Understanding Milieu Therapy for Addiction Treatment


Milieu therapy uses therapeutic environments and communities to create positive change in people. The therapy typically focuses on cognitive communication and self-care, inspiring individuals to change for the better.


Milieu is a French word meaning “social environment”. As a therapy, Milieu creates a structured group that provides a safe place for clients. During Milieu Therapy sessions, you will experience normal, everyday activities. These activities will take place in a community environment where individuals interact with each other. A large emphasis is placed on the community and its ability to create change in individuals.


The flexibility of Milieu Therapy makes it a potential option for individuals seeking mental health treatment. You may consider using it with other types of therapy to produce positive results. The community aspect of Milieu works well for people struggling with substance abuse. When used in a treatment program or rehab, Milieu can help you become better prepared for long-term recovery.


What is Milieu Therapy?


Distinguishing character is important in Milieu Therapy. This helps individuals in treatment for substance abuse to shape problematic behaviors. The community is responsible for shaping each other’s values, making the role of community even greater.


Individuals undergoing Milieu will use their newly-found values during social settings which are similar to daily interactions. The belief is that daily interactions make an impact on individuals. The personal values developed then spread to the entire society. Each person in the community affects the other, creating greater change.


The setting for the therapy is safe and non-threatening. You will be motivated to become comfortable and express yourself. Expressing yourself may not occur right away, but over a period of time, you will grow more comfortable in the community.


Socialization is created by a freedom to express one’s self. You will gain feedback from socializing with others in Milieu Therapy including counselors, therapists, and medical staff. The feedback you receive will hopefully positively impact your recovery.

Personal Values of Milieu Therapy


Treatment will help you create personal values. From the beginning of your therapeutic episode you will be challenged and the values created will help you positively change over time.


Values are important in this therapy as personal values are the building blocks for gaining lasting change and become addiction-free.


Some of the values you will learn during Milieu therapy include:


  • Self-awareness
  • Self-confidence
  • Decent behavior


The Importance of Milieu Therapy in Addiction Recovery


Conflict behaviors and aggressive behaviors in individuals suffering from mental health issues can be lowered using Milieu Therapy. Individuals with schizophrenia may show violent behaviors, but Milieu Therapy has been shown to lower aggressiveness in these individuals.


Milieu Therapy provides a holistic treatment approach to mental health issues. The treatment is different as it comprises activities such as bathing, waking up from sleep, and eating. These activities provide important moments for promoting positive change in individuals. Therefore, Milieu focuses on these instances.


The therapy is known as an “all-arounder” capable of working with a variety of individuals suffering from various issues. Milieu may be used by counselors and therapists for different psychological or behavioral problems.


Two significant areas that Milieu helps is substance abuse and eating disorders. The calming, educational, and relaxing environments created by Milieu can help both drug and/or alcohol addicts and individuals suffering from an eating disorder. Adjusting your environment can have a major impact on substance abuse and misuse.

Key Aspects of Milieu Therapy?


Milieu Therapy is a popular addiction treatment option, but it isn’t the most widely used around the globe. The combination of the therapy and regular exercise can help individuals achieve a clearer mind and reach sober goals more quickly than with some other types of treatment or no therapy at all.


You will undergo a structured program in Milieu Therapy. Sessions are just random with various topics to talk about. Everything is planned out11.J. Coombs, Use of Milieu as a Problem-Solving Strategy in Addiction Treatment – ScienceDirect, Use of Milieu as a Problem-Solving Strategy in Addiction Treatment – ScienceDirect.; Retrieved September 27, 2022, from


Six Main Aspects of Milieu Therapy


  • Changing from within – The program tries to help individuals build relationships with carers and peers. You will be taught that it is okay to ask for help from those people around you.
  • Building structure – Healing works more efficiently and quicker if your day is predictable and there are no surprises. A daily routine is built through the program. Routine gives you the chance to focus on positive change.
  • Socializing – Introducing you to a safe environment enables you to socialize with other clients in treatment. This will help you socialize further once leaving treatment.
  • Self-care – You will be taught how to live a healthier life courtesy of adding self-care to your daily routine. Self-care enables individuals to focus on themselves in positive ways and to improve mental health.
  • A safe place – You will have a safe, secure environment to function. The staff will support you as will the others undergoing Milieu Therapy.


In the end, you will be empowered by Milieu Therapy. Gaining independence and freedom from substance abuse will enable you to make the positive changes necessary to live healthier and drug and/or alcohol-free.


Milieu Therapy Pros & Cons


Benefits of Milieu Therapy:


  • Encouragement to create healthy habits and behaviors.
  • Encouragement to use new coping tools and skills.
  • A safe place and secure environment.
  • Direct feedback to motivate your improvements
  • A supportive network and environment.


Disadvantages of Milieu Therapy for Addiction


People suffering with addiction and substance use disorder may find it difficult to continue with the same organizational skills when they return to life after treatment. that the program provides. A lack of support may cause a setback. Also, adapting to slight changes in the environment or staff may be challenging for people with mental health issues


Milieu Therapy has been known to help individuals regain control of their lives and to end addiction. Individuals struggling with addiction and the mental health issues associated with it can gain the independence needed thanks to the treatment.


The social aspect of Milieu provides a different type of treatment individuals may not be familiar with. Yet, the ability to have support from those around you may be the exact thing that was lacking in the first place.


Milieu treatment is a holistic approach that helps individuals from the inside out. It doesn’t just focus on addiction and physical issues. Milieu addresses problems addiction created with mental health. The treatment program enables you to get to a place in which you can deal with life’s challenges without resorting to drugs and/or alcohol.


Next: Medication Assisted Treatment

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    1.J. Coombs, Use of Milieu as a Problem-Solving Strategy in Addiction Treatment – ScienceDirect, Use of Milieu as a Problem-Solving Strategy in Addiction Treatment – ScienceDirect.; Retrieved September 27, 2022, from
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