What is the Minnesota Model of Addiction Recovery?

While each treatment program has a different and unique approach to addiction recovery, there are specific models that have become well-known standards for addiction treatment, the “Minnesota” is one that is known for being quite effective in helping people recover from addiction and reclaim their lives.


The Minnesota model, also commonly referred to as the “abstinence model,” grew out of the very popular Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12-Step program, aiming to expand its reach and effectiveness by including an emphasis on medical care, especially psychiatry, in treatment. The model was first used in a state mental hospital in the 1950s. In addition to a focus on abstinence and adhering to the 12-Steps, the Minnesota model emphasizes individualization of treatment, meaning each person’s treatment program is uniquely designed to meet his or her needs and address their specific issues around addiction. Since we all experience addiction and recovery differently, no one treatment program is going to be effective for all of us, so having an individualized approach can make all the difference.

Group Work

A major element of the Minnesota Model is group work. The majority of treatment takes place in group settings, with group therapy, support groups, classes, and meditation groups being important focal points. We learn more about our addictions, and ourselves when working with other people. We increase our understanding of our triggers, our vulnerabilities to relapse, and the complicated issues we’re facing in our lives. We’re able to help each other and benefit from our wisdom and lived experience. We’re given the opportunity to build networks of support and connection that can mean so much in our recovery.

Another important component of the Minnesota Model is active family participation. Families of recovering addicts are asked to be conscious and active participants in their loved ones’ recovery process. The Minnesota Model also emphasizes longer care periods, with inpatient treatment lasting at least 4 weeks and incorporating daily requirements, such as regular 12-Step program participation both before and after being admitted. Participants are also encouraged to begin working again, given that there is a strong correlation between working and feeling fulfilled and being able to stay sober. With family involvement, work opportunities and more rigorous demands, the Minnesota model aims to make people’s recovery process more involved and thorough, and therefore more effective, than other treatment programs that focus mainly on detoxification. This model is meant to act as a continuation of the recovery process, to help people stay sober beyond first achieving sobriety, with a more holistic and medically comprehensive approach.

Riverside Recovery is a drug and alcohol treatment center located in Tampa FL offering a full continuum of care for people suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.