The cause (underlying issue), not just the symptom (behavior) of the addiction must be resolved.

Sufficient time must be allowed for the brain to heal & re-wire itself.

A new life-style and appropriate attitudes, behaviors, and values must be adopted.

The necessary tools to stay sober must be developed.

The Cause

The abuse of drugs and alcohol – along with other destructive behaviors – is not the cause of an addiction, but merely a symptom, and treating this is relatively easy. After a few months of treatment, the symptom disappears and the person feels healthy and recovered. Unfortunately, if the treatment ends here, most addicts will relapse.

To attain permanent recovery, the cause of one’s addiction, not just the symptom, must be treated. The cause is what drove the person to drugs and alcohol in the first place. It is almost always some underlying issues that makes the individual unable to be content with life as it is.

To determine and treat the cause of the addiction, each student at the John Volken Academy undergoes an intense process of therapy. Through individual counseling, group sessions, and appropriate peer-to-peer interactions, students learn how to share their thoughts and feelings, while facing and dealing with difficult situations. They learn to reflect on their own struggles and gain valuable insight into the source of these struggles. In time, the causes of their addiction are identified, and students learn how to let go and to deal with those issues in a healthy manner.

Sufficient Time for the Brain to Heal & Re-wire Itself

While there is much discussion about the lasting effect that the abuse of drugs and alcohol has on the brain, most agree that addiction impairs brain development and function. The impairment caused by substance abuse is evident in many ways, such as the impulsive, emotional, and irrational decisions that most addicts make. To better understand the “why and how”, it is helpful to know that the brain does not fully develop until we reach our mid-twenties. The last area to mature or develop is the frontal lobe, which regulates the “emotional control center”. This is why it is common for someone still active in an addiction in their 30s or 40s to have the emotional maturity of a teenager. During addiction the brain still functions, but not effectively. Much like a river that has been dammed by a mudslide, the muddy water still finds its way to the ocean. Similarly, the brain’s messages, while somewhat distorted, find their way to their proper destination.

The good news is that the brain, in fact the whole body, is an amazing healing machine. When the addiction is stopped, the brain begins to heal (or re-wire) itself. The key here is itself”. No professional can do it. With a relative short time of abstinence, the proper environment, and new patterns of living, improvement in brain structure and function become evident. But it requires at least 2 years, and up to 5 years, for the brain to function at its optimum. During this healing or re-wiring process, the person’s actions, reactions, and decision-making abilities remain distorted, but continue to improve as time goes on. After 5 years of sobriety and active recovery, the brain is usually as good as it will ever be, and if the recovered addicts continue to use the proper tools, they will be able to maintain sobriety for life.

The above is fairly easy to understand. However, while many addicts want recovery, few are willing to commit to the time needed. This is the main reason for the high rate of relapses.

Life-long sobriety is our only mission. That is why the minimum stay at the John Volken Academy is two years, with the average stay being 28 months. It is the best investment of  time that a struggling young person can ever make. The benefits will last a life time!

Adopting a New Lifestyle

To obtain life-long sobriety, it is essential that the person learns and adopts an entirely healthy new life-style. Under the direction of our Senior Program Director and other senior managers, our students do exactly that. This is accomplished, in part, because:

  1. they are taught, and adopt, new attitudes, behaviors, and values
  2. they learn to enjoy a wide range of healthy indoor and outdoor activities without any stimulants
  3. they learn to communicate effectively
  4. they learn patience and tolerance
  5. they learn to be valuable employees and to take pride in performance
  6. they develop humility, self-control, and excellence in standards
  7. they learn leadership skills
  8. they learn to be punctual, polite, reliable, and productive
  9. they are exposed to, and come to enjoy, the arts, with attendance at museums, operas, plays, and recitals
  10. they watch movies and television shows that are positive, educational, and sometimes adventurous, in nature
  11. they receive extensive career training, attend valuable workshops, and receive stimulating lessons
  12. they are taught manners and etiquette
  13. they listen to softer music, at moderate volumes

In short, our students tear down their old destructive ways and develop completely new healthy life-styles.

When they graduate these new ways have become second-nature and automatic.

Adopting a new life-style takes time. However, the change is priceless!

The Necessary Tools to Stay Sober

After a few months in recovery the symptom of the addiction has been dealt with and people feel better, often better than they can remember. But for life-long sobriety, treatment must not end here. To successfully treat the cause of the addiction takes more time. Too many people relapse because the most import, most essential part needed for life-long sobriety is not being considered, namely:

The tools necessary to handle life’s many challenges must be developed.

Students at the John Volken Academy develop mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. In doing so they acquire the tools essential to live without drugs and alcohol –for life! Some of these tools are: to see obstacles not as problems but as challenges; the ability to face inconvenient realities; to be accountable for one’s actions; to practice self-control; to follow directions; to accept authority; to have self-confidence and self-worth; to be able to deal with changes, handle criticism, learn to “stick to it”, to co-operate with others… just to mention a few.

Students are challenged daily in these areas. But like turning a big ship around, turning a life around takes time. To expect a person with a history of substance abuse to learn and adopt all the tools needed to stay sober in just a few months is simply unrealistic.

At no extra cost, our students stay until the process is completed. When they graduate they do so as responsible contributing member of society, with the Will and the Tools to become the best that they can be.

NeurOptimal Neurofeedback

One distinctive and valuable feature of the John Volken Academy’s treatment program is NeurOptimal neurofeedback brain training. Very few treatment centers offer this state-of-the-art therapy due to its substantial cost. We are committed to providing NeurOptimal, as it plays an effective role in addiction treatment and significantly reinforces the likelihood of life-long sobriety.

This advanced technology provides significant help in situations of depression, anxiety, insomnia, nervousness, self-critical thinking, and associated negative feelings – all common emotions for people with addiction. Neurofeedback helps your central nervous system to do what is naturally best for YOUR brain. It is used by stage performers, opera singers, athletes, students, and professionals to achieve peak performance and effectiveness. NeurOptimal results in optimal brain functioning, enabling you to make healthier decisions, focus better, feel less anxious, and display reduced impulsive behaviour. You feel happier and enjoy a more profound sense of peace. The system is 100% non-invasive. It is a safe method that helps restore serenity, confidence, and wellness into your life.

NeurOptimal neurofeedback is utilized by thousands of therapists worldwide to help those seeking peak performance in all aspects of daily life – because it works!

The positive effect of neurofeedback remains throughout one’s life and help strengthen relapse prevention.

For a more and complete discussion of the benefits of NeurOptimal neurofeedback and related research please visit

“When I came in to the John Volken Academy I was a complete mess. I could not sit still, nor could I think straight… to my surprise I was accepted. The staff at the John Volken Academy saw something in me I did not even see in myself. They saw a desire to change and a leadership ability I did not know I had. After several months I started to believe the encouraging words the John Volken Academy staff provided. I feel they have groomed me into a great leader… completing this program will be the first thing I have seen through to the end. I look forward to continuing to be an example for others. I now believe I have a lot to offer those going through similar struggles and that if I can turn my life around anybody can…”

Grady W.

“I never realized how great life can be without the use of drugs or alcohol… I owe all this to the John Volken Academy… It’s an absolutely amazing opportunity that you have given us… I’ve gone to other recovery places in the past, but the John Volken Academy is the only one that has everything that is needed to totally change my life… I will be able to accomplish anything that is set out in front of me…”

Darren T.

“Coming to the John Volken Academy was the defining moment of my life. I am blown away by the changes in my life. The anxiety that I have felt for most of my life has disappeared… the hole I’ve always felt inside of me, that I’ve always tried to fill with drugs and alcohol, has finally been filled. For the first time I am feeling like a complete person. I have renewed my faith in God and myself. What a gift you and the John Volken Academy have given me, John. Enthusiasm for life. I thank you with all my heart.”

Scott D.

“If I was to continue on the same path I would surely be dead or in jail. The John Volken Academy has allowed me to break my addiction cycle and to live a clean and sober life… be successful at work, at home, and the community… freedom from addiction has no price… I am so grateful to all the people involved with the John Volken Academy. I am in the John Volken Academy’s debt.”

James S.

“Most of my family knew the path I was headed down led to imminent death. Without the John Volken Academy and all the great people involved I would never have made it. The John Volken Academy has saved my life.”

Travis B.

“My journey at the John Volken Academy has been amazing! Looking back at my past life, the progress I have made almost seems unreal… the John Volken Academy gave me my life back. I am forever grateful.”

Reese F.

“Before I came to the John Volken Academy I had determined that my life was hopeless and that I would die addicted to heroin. My ways had not only destroyed me, but my family as well… today, I am 100% different. Before I felt hopeless and today I want to preach to the world that true recovery is attainable…”

Frank G.

“The consequences of the choices that I had been making somehow convinced me that I no longer had any choices, that I was just an addict. Today I know that that is not true. I have learned indispensible leadership skills, emotional awareness, self-control, and most importantly, forgiveness, for myself and others. “

Peter H.

“I am so grateful and honored to be a graduate of the John Volken Academy. It has been an incredible journey that changed my life.”

Meghan S.