Network Therapy

As the name implies, Network Therapy creates a network of loved ones who help you recognize and avoid triggers for relapse. Your network may do this by helping you stay motivated, avoid triggers for relapse, practice new skills, or by going to support groups with you. 

Network Therapy Definition: 

Network therapy (NT) is an individual and group talk-therapy that recruits a network of social support to assist you with your treatment. It works by helping you understand and avoid relapse triggers. It also shows your network how they can support you. Put simply, NT helps you stay sober and shows your network how they can help you stay sober.


  • Relationship Support: Brings your significant other or loved ones into the treatment process.
  • Increased Commitment: Less likely to drop out of treatment.
  • More Connected: Can lead to long term bonds after rehab.
  • Self-Understanding: Helps you and your network understand what kinds of situations, events, and emotions led to past relapses.
  • Relapse Prevention: Helps you and your network recognize and prevent relapse. 

Why It’s Important for Recovery:

Network therapy gives your loved ones concrete ways to support your recovery. The result is a team of people who know how to support you after rehab. The goal of this is to help you and your network learn to understand and prevent future relapses, grow your network, and improve life satisfaction during the time spent with your network. 

Principles of Network Therapy: 

  • Start a Network Immediately: At least one loved one should be attending therapy with you by the 3rd session. The other person can help cement your commitment to therapy. They also add an outside viewpoint when discussing your history with drugs and alcohol. 
  • Your Therapist Helps Your Network To Help You:   Once you have a network, your therapist acts as a team-leader role during sessions. This includes boosting morale, motivation, communication, or diffusing tensions.
  • Create a Balanced Network: For the best dynamic, there should be a balance in the age and gender of your network members.  
  • There’s Only 1 Goal: The only focus of the network is keeping you sober. A network therapist does not focus on healing relationships between you and your network. Rather she believes that your continued sobriety will heal any relationships damaged by addiction. 
  • You’re the Only Patient: The Network Therapist is there to treat you. Though people in your network will attend therapy with you, they should not expect to be the focus of therapy or receive any symptom relief. 
  • Use Other Support Groups: Your therapist will encourage you to attend NA or AA meetings so that you can join a sober community and possibly grow your network. Members of your network can attend these meetings with you. You won’t be forced to keep attending if you don’t benefit from the meetings. 
  • Group and One-on-One Therapy: Once you have a network, you’ll attend a session with them once a week. You’ll also attend a private session once a week. 

How Does Network Therapy Work?: 

Network Therapy is a specialized talk-therapy that helps you understand your past substance use to better avoid it in the future. This happens in 8 parts: 

Part 1. Recruit a Network: After you meet with the therapist, you’ll begin recruiting loved ones to build your network. Usually, this starts with your significant other (if they don’t abuse drugs or alcohol). 

Part 2. Assess the Network: Therapists speak to potential network members to see if they are a good fit. For example, your ex would not be an acceptable candidate if your current partner was also a member. This could easily cause competition for your affection during sessions instead of focusing on sobriety. A family member who was more interested in therapy for themselves would also not be acceptable. 

Part 3. History Taking: You, your network, and your therapist will begin talking about the history of your drug or alcohol abuse. Including when you started using, when it got out of control, and what finally led to getting help. For the most accurate history, all network members will answer these questions. 

Part 4. Functional Analysis: You and your network will explore your past relapses. This includes your thoughts, emotions, interactions, and life circumstances before a relapse. Your therapist can then help you and your network understand the sequence of things that led to drug-seeking. Sometimes these are things that wouldn’t have been obvious without looking at different perspectives. 

Part 5. Skill Building: Similar to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, your therapist will help you learn ways to avoid the thoughts, feelings, circumstances, or people that led to past relapses. Or they will help you learn skills to cope with these things if they are not avoidable. 

Part 6. Communication Skills: You and your significant other or loved one learn to recognize and avoid toxic communication. By learning ways to communicate your partner becomes more able to help you deal with relapse triggers. 

Part 7. Social Support: Your therapist will show your network how to support your new skills and habits. This includes helping you avoid things that might cause you to relapse, helping you practice techniques to deal with addiction-related thoughts or emotions, or attending events or group support meetings with you. With time, your network becomes an extension of your therapist. 

Part 8. Maintenance: Network members are encouraged to reward behaviors that they believe support your treatment or long term sobriety. Rewards can be gifts, meals, a sober night out, or quality time together.  

What are the Results of Network Therapy?: 

NT recruits people who want to help you get sober and brings them into your treatment process. This has been shown to improve treatment success:

  • 46 of 60 patients who adopted networks stayed sober for at least 6 months. 
  • In a study of 35 participants recovering from cocaine, 17 established support networks and enrolled in 24 weeks of treatment. The other 18 established networks but got no treatment. 15 of 17 patients with networks and treatment were sober after 24 weeks. However, only 4 of 18 were sober with networks and no treatment. 
  • In a study of 30 patients, 10 did Network Therapy while 20 used other therapy methods. 94 (88%) of the 107 drug tests were negative for NT patients. However, only 54 (66%) of the 82 drug tests were negative for non-NT patients.   

Become Connected: 

Tree House Recovery creates deep social bonds that last a lifetime. We use holistic methods to build the social, mental, and physical strength of our clients. Humans are social animals and our graduates lead rich connected lives. To learn more call 855-202-2138. Here’s who answers.


“Network Therapy.” The ASAM Principles of Addiction Medicine (6th edition). Edited by Shannon Miller, American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2015, pp 969-979.