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Addiction Therapist Los Angeles | West Hollywood

I'm a Marriage and Family Therapist with a decade of extensive experience working with people in all stages of the recovery process in individual therapy and with family members. My approach to counseling fits people who are looking to start their unique journey to understand their relationship with alcohol or drug use. I'm a former Clinical Director of a Residential Treatment Center, and in my private practice, I have a decade of experience in helping people grow healthy, happy lives.


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oliver drakeford - addiction therapist los angeles

 Oliver Drakeford, LMFT CGP- Addiction and recovery specialist

I'm a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over ten years of experience working with people struggling with addiction. I'm also a Certified Group Psychotherapist, a Professor of Clinical Psychology, and the Clinical Director of a Residential Treatment Center. 


My office is located in the heart of West Hollywood, on Santa Monica Blvd, making it accessible from Culver City, Hollywood, and West LA. In addition, I provide online counseling to residents of California

Click below for more information on where I'm located.

My approach to working with substance use and addiction

Rooted in psychoanalytic theory and drawing influences from DBT, MIT, and CBT, my approach has shown promising results, with many clients significantly cutting down or abstaining from substance use altogether to live a healthier, happier life.

Client Stories:

"The absolute best. Oliver Drakeford is the most talented and knowledgeable therapist I've ever encountered." Anonymous

"The tools you provided us are working to better help my family during our daily lives and overcome some very difficult situations. GRACIAS!!" Anonymous

Addiction Therapist Los Angeles | West Hollywood

Addiction, a complex psychological issue, often manifests as a dependency on substances or behaviors that negatively impact daily life. In the diverse communities of Los Angeles and West Hollywood, we recognize that this is more than just a physical craving; it's deeply intertwined with emotional and psychological factors.

As a substance abuse therapist, my approach to therapy around addiction recovery focuses on understanding these underlying causes and providing tailored support to each individual.

I approach substance use therapy with a clear perspective: it's not just about overcoming a habit or treating this as a mental health issue, but about addressing the root psychological triggers – be it stress, trauma, or mental health challenges.


Working with me involves a deeper understanding of the hidden dynamics of substance abuse and providing support to my clients in Los Angeles CA and West Hollywood. By combining professional expertise and a decade of experience working in recovery with a compassionate approach, I believe I have created a balanced path to recovery and well-being.

addiction therapy los angeles
my approach


addiction therapy in los angeles

In my ten years of experience as a substance abuse therapist, I've noticed that addictions seem to transcend the common perception of being solely tied to drugs or alcohol. It's crucial to acknowledge that this issue can take many forms, often manifesting in behaviors not typically associated with substance abuse. This includes compulsive habits like gambling, sex addiction, excessive exercising, and other repetitive actions that one might not immediately recognize as addictive. These behaviors, while not involving substances, can still have a profound impact on an individual's life, disrupting their daily routine and relationships.


In my practice, I view substance use as a symptom of deeper emotional and psychological challenges. It's not merely about the addictive behavior itself but what that behavior is trying to mask or alleviate. Often, individuals turn to these addictive actions as a way to cope with feelings of helplessness, anxiety, or unresolved trauma. They become a means to escape or control overwhelming emotions of powerlessness.


Recognizing the psychological purpose of addiction, whether sexual addiction or drug addiction, is crucial to relapse prevention. When individuals understand that addictive behaviors often stem from a need to counteract feelings of helplessness, they gain powerful insights and are on the path to successful recovery. This knowledge empowers them to identify and address the real emotional triggers behind their addiction, fostering a sense of control and self-awareness.

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My Approach to ADDICTION Therapy and Drug Abuse Treatment

One of the first steps in my therapy sessions is to encourage introspection, which is vital in identifying personal triggers for various addictions. Every individual's journey with dependency is unique, and understanding this uniqueness is crucial. Through guided self-reflection and therapeutic techniques, I help my clients uncover the specific emotional states or circumstances that propel their addictive behaviors. This process often involves exploring past experiences, current stressors, and future anxieties. By recognizing these key moments and triggers, we can begin to develop tailored strategies to manage them effectively.


A common theme I've noticed in many addiction cases is the feeling of overwhelming helplessness. Whether it's due to external stressors, unresolved trauma, or internal conflicts, this feeling can often lead individuals to seek solace in unhealthy behaviors. In my therapy practice, we work in individual and group therapy together to understand these emotional connections and develop healthier coping mechanisms, but it all starts with being aware that this is even happening.


Understanding the concept of the "key moment" in addiction is pivotal. It refers to the moment when individuals decide or first contemplate engaging in addictive behavior. The decision that is made in this key moment is a way we get rid of unwanted feelings of powerlessness or anger. Identifying this key moment allows for self-discovery and effective therapy, as it unveils the emotional triggers that drive addiction.


The fury that arises from feeling overwhelmed and powerless can be a driving force behind addictive behaviors. However, by acknowledging and redirecting this intense emotion, individuals can find healthier ways to express and manage their feelings. This approach not only mitigates the risk of addiction but also contributes to emotional resilience and personal growth.


Understanding the displacement nature of addiction opens the door to effective recovery. When individuals learn to recognize the early signs of addictive urges and understand their root causes, they gain the ability to choose healthier responses. This shift from automatic, compulsive reactions to thoughtful, controlled actions is a critical step in breaking the cycle of addiction and reclaiming control over one's life


My approach as a Marriage and Family Therapist is holistic, recognizing that recovery from addiction involves improving overall emotional well-being. By addressing the root causes and providing tools for emotional regulation and resilience, I aim to guide my clients not just to recovery but towards a more empowered and fulfilling life. It's a journey of transformation, where overcoming addiction is just the beginning.

My Approach to ADDICTION Therapy and Drug Abuse Treatment

By incorporating research and evidence-based modalities, as well as my own experience as a marriage and family therapist of over ten years working with people struggling with substance use, I create a comprehensive approach and personalized plan that is tailored to each client.


Motivational Interviewing (MI), Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT),  and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) are most often used in treatment centers when working with young adults and people recovering from substance use disorders, and I incorporate these into my work, using psychoanalytic theory as a foundation to guide my therapeutic approach. I have seen clients respond very well to this combination, reducing the amount of substance used and some stopping completely.


One of the key findings of research into substance use is that improving self-awareness can be a foundation to recovery. Understanding how we work and why is a vital first step in therapy.


Studies show that improving resilience can play a significant role in the recovery from addictions by helping individuals better navigate the challenges and obstacles they encounter during their journey toward sobriety.


You might have heard the phrase '"the opposite of addiction is connection," and in my experience, this is certainly true; I help and encourage clients to increase their support systems and find a community and purpose in their lives. 

Addiction IMPACTS Millions of People

Over 21 million Americans have a form of dependency on at least one substance or activity.


Only 10% of people struggling with substances receive adequate treatment


Men younger than 25 are most likely to develop problems with substances 


9 out of 10 people struggling with substances started before they were 18


Sometimes substance use is a response to external stressors, and we have, on a global level, had some monumental stressors in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic, which I believe is still impacting us emotionally and psychologically. There of a noticeable increase in addictive behaviors in times of stress as a society and on the individual level.. These circumstances serve as triggers, pushing individuals towards dependency as a means to regain control and cope with overwhelming stress. It's not just the craving for a substance or behavior; it's an attempt to find relief from the chaos of the world around them.


The Vietnam Study

The Vietnam War offers a compelling example of how external conditions influence addiction. Many soldiers turned to heroin in the war zone, a response to the extreme stress and trauma they faced. Interestingly, upon returning home, most of these veterans discontinued their heroin use. This pattern underscores a vital distinction between physical dependence and psychological dependency. It wasn't merely the drug itself that held sway over these individuals; it was the environment and the emotional turmoil they experienced.


When considering the roots of addiction, it's also important to discuss the role of genetics. While genetics can predispose individuals to addictive behaviors, they are not the sole factor. Addiction is not an inevitable outcome dictated by one's genetic makeup. This understanding is crucial, as it shifts the focus from a predetermined fate to the complex interplay between genetics, environment, and individual psychological factors. In my therapy practice, debunking the myth of addiction as purely a genetic destiny allows for a more nuanced and holistic approach, one that considers the whole person and their unique life experiences. This puts addiction into the zone of control to some degree.

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Traditional Approaches to Addiction Therapy IN LOS ANGELES AND NORTH AMERICA

Traditional methods, such as 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), have long been a staple in the journey toward recovery. While 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) play a crucial role in many people's recovery, I recognize that every individual's path to healing is unique. If you don't think AA is right for you, I can understand that and never insist a client attend. In its defense, I do think the sense of community and peer support found in AA is invaluable, and in particular, the recovery community is vibrant in Los Angeles. For that reason, I do sometimes encourage participation in such groups for the camaraderie and mutual understanding they offer. However, my approach to treating substance use does not necessarily require the support provided by AA. The psychological insights and tools I use to address the underlying emotional and psychological aspects of addiction are sometimes effective alone. 

Addiction Therapy and Recovery Are Not Separate

Many therapists in Los Angeles, when faced with substance use issues, refer patients to AA, which I might point out can be seen as a form of abandonment, especially if you've been working with that therapist for a while. ​For me, understanding the emotional triggers, such as anxiety disorders, depression or trauma, is crucial for effective recovery and that would be a primary goal of therapy. This perspective shifts the focus from addictive behavior itself to the underlying emotional states that drive such behavior. In therapy, the knowledge of these emotional triggers can be used to predict and manage addictive impulses. My approach to therapy can help empower individuals to take control of their addiction issues by addressing the root emotional causes. It involves introspective work to uncover the personal themes that are most sensitive to each individual, thereby providing a roadmap for recovery.


Rehabs or Residential Centers in Los Angeles also play a significant role in recovery. These facilities typically offer an immersive environment focused on recovery. While they provide a break from the daily triggers, some may emphasize amenities over in-depth psychological therapy. The effectiveness of these centers can vary, and the high costs may not always correlate with the level of personalized care and long-term recovery support offered. As a former Clinical Director of a residential rehabilitation center, I have some unique insights into their effectiveness and pro's and cons I'd be happy to share.


Addiction Therapist In Los Angeles

The role of qualified counselors in substance treatment cannot be overstated. There is a growing need for addiction therapists and counselors who specialize in substance use disorders and understand its complexities. An effective therapist in this field goes beyond traditional methods, integrating a deep understanding of addiction counseling into their therapy sessions. This approach ensures that not only the symptoms of addiction are addressed but also the underlying emotional and psychological triggers.


Choosing a therapist with expertise in substance use is crucial for a comprehensive treatment plan for recovery that fosters lasting abstinence, lasting recovery, and personal growth. In my practice, I strive to provide a balanced perspective, acknowledging the value of traditional methods while emphasizing the need for individualized, psychological-focused therapy to overcome issues. It's about finding a family therapist with the right combination of support, structure, and personalized care to address this issue effectively.

INTERACTIVE: WHICH LEVEL OF Levels Of Care In Addiction Treatment IS RIGHT FOR ME?

Therapy for addiction is most effective when it is tailored to meet the specific needs of the individual. The journey to recovery may involve several levels of care, ensuring ongoing support and addressing the varying intensities of use. Here's an overview of the different levels of care available:

  • Hospitalization (Inpatient Care): This level of care involves acute stabilization in a psychiatric hospital or the psychiatric unit of a hospital. It is appropriate for addressing a mental health crisis,  or active substance abuse, especially when an individual may be a danger to themselves or others and/or require detoxification. The duration of this care can range from one night to several weeks.

  • Residential Treatment: This involves live-in residence in a home-like setting with intensive therapeutic services focused on mental health issues and substance abuse recovery and skills to live a sober life. It usually includes an academic/life skills component, group therapy and 24/7 monitoring to ensure physical and emotional safety. It is most effective for long-term, sustainable healing and is suitable for individuals needing around-the-clock structure. The typical length of stay is 30–60 days. I would encourage you to find a program that includes couples therapy or family therapy, which can be a vital part of building a strong foundation for a life free from substance abuse.

levels of care in addiction therapy los angeles

  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): PHP is a structured outpatient day-treatment program operating 5 days per week with an assigned addiction counselor who will focus on substance abuse. It includes 4+ hours of clinical and experiential therapy that focus on change in addictive behaviors and substance abuse. This level is ideal for those who can remain at home but need more structure than weekly therapy can provide. The duration can be 30 days up to several months and you'll work with a licensed marriage and family therapist or other uniquely qualified mental health professional or addiction counselor.

  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): IOP involves addiction treatment for 3–5 afternoons a week, each session lasting 3–4 hours. This allows individuals to attend school and participate in other daily activities while receiving additional therapeutic support. The typical length of treatment is 30 days up to several months.

  • Outpatient Services: This level of care involves treatment 1–2 afternoons per week as needed. It is suitable for individuals ready to transition from Residential, IOP, or PHP to a lower level of care and who can successfully participate in daily routines using healthy coping mechanisms. The duration can be 30 days up to several months.

  • Weekly Therapy Sessions: These are one-hour coaching or counseling sessions with an individual therapist to address specific issues, practice coping skills, and monitor progress. This level is for those who can benefit from consistent support and do not need a higher level of care. The treatment usually lasts at least 6 months with change and may be ongoing.

In you journey to being sober, fnding the right therapist or substance abuse treatment program in Los Angeles CA can be overwhelming.

My office is located in West Hollywood in the middle of Los Angeles, and I work with clients from all over Los Angeles, I can offer weekly therapy sessions as well as outpatient services, which would require multiple sessions per week to dig into causes and related problems, as well as other forms online therapy and of supplemental ideas for a treatment plan we can discuss.


If you're curious about starting therapy or would like to talk to me more about how I work, my fee, and the schedule, please join me on a consultation call over the phone or online.  I'm a Licensed Therapist and provide in-person sessions to anyone in California if you're in Los Angeles or online.


As a dedicated mental health professional, I aim to be your partner in guiding you through your journey of substance abuse, addiction treatment and drug recovery. We also offer support and validation for behavioral health addictions, compulsions, and codependent relationships. Our goal is to align your community support with our counseling approach. In certain cases, we may suggest community-based programs and services to support groups to enhance your therapeutic journey.

Non-12-Step Related Recovery

The 12-steps may not be suitable for everyone. We respect your individual choices around substance and drug abuse treatment and whether you lean towards a spiritual or secular path in finding the right recovery program for you. There's no absolute right or wrong way on your healing journey. We don't endorse any specific program; instead, we aim to provide you with options to discover the approach that best suits your needs.

Smart Recovery

Smart Recovery stands out as a noteworthy alternative to traditional 12-step programs. It's designed to help individuals who may not resonate with the 12-step philosophy but still seek new effective strategies for recovery.

Moderation Management

For those aiming to regain control over their relationship with alcohol, Moderation Management offers valuable guidance and techniques, enabling you to work towards your personal goals regarding alcohol consumption.

Refuge Recovery

If you're looking for a unique and transformative approach, Refuge Recovery, inspired by Buddhist principles. It offers a fresh perspective on recovery, and casn help encourage mindfulness and inner peace as key components of the journey.

12-Step Related Recovery RESOURCES

Alcoholics Anonymous originated in 1935 with a meeting between two individuals talking about substance abuse. They established the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, which have given rise to numerous similar programs worldwide. These methods have stood the test of time and are rooted in decades of tradition. Most notable in my professional experiences is the comradery and community that my clients find within 12-Step Meetings that I believe impacts lasting recovery.

12 Step Meetings

Los Angeles

Thousands of AA meetings are available at any hour of the day in Los Angeles, California and West Hollywood including private, safe, and new confidential online options. There is usually always a meeting to fit your schedule.

The 12 Step Store, West Hollywood

Celebrating over 12 years of service, the 'My 12 Step Store' is a local West Hollywood business that strives to celebrate well being and the life journey in recovery with you by offering a terrific selection of recovery gifts, books, and more.

Crystal Meth Anonymous LA

There is a thriving CMA community in West Hollywood with a variety of meeting options to support recovery from drug use.. By utilizing the “near me” search function, you can easily find meetings in close proximity to your location, organized by time of day. 



I could tell that he was present and listening to what I had to say. His insights were spot on and  put things into perspective, which is exactly what I needed and wanted.


The absolute best. Oliver Drakeford is the most talented and knowledgeable therapist I've ever crossed paths with. 


He listens intently, remembers virtually everything you tell him, synthesises all your information, makes connections and pops out some startlingly helpful feedback



Oliver Drakeford Therapy

8702 Santa Monica Blvd

West Hollywood, CA, 90069

262 509 0210

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