Group therapy is a valuable tool for many, especially those in recovery from substance use disorders. This is sometimes called substance abuse group therapy.
If you have been recommended group therapy as part of your recovery journey, you may be wondering what that might entail. Not all therapy groups look the same, but most touch on familiar topics and group therapy activities relevant to substance abuse and recovery.
Group therapy may seem a daunting prospect, and you might even have your doubts about the whole process. Recovery groups can provide a safe and judgment-free place to share your own experiences.
You will also be able to receive feedback, develop insight, and constructively discuss issues with other group members going through the same thing who will understand what you are going through.
Many people greatly benefit from group therapy, and so can you. As you go through your journey in recovery, it can help not to feel so alone. Having support systems in place can differentiate between relapse and successful recovery.
You can find therapy groups through rehab centers and treatment facilities.
What Is Group Therapy?
Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy held in a small group session, usually around five to ten people.
This kind of therapy is beneficial in many settings, especially in treating substance abuse. It is considered an essential component of addiction recovery alongside individual therapy for many.
Many studies have researched the benefits of group therapy. They have been found to help problems commonly associated with substance abuse, such as depression, isolation, and shame. These sessions have also been shown to reduce stress and improve group members’ self-confidence.
This is particularly useful because, in recovery, it is essential to be mindful of the acronym HALT, which stands for hungry, angry, alone, tired. These four emotions are known as common triggers for relapse. Group sessions will allow you to recognize these emotions and avoid potential relapse.
Group therapy aims to teach and practice coping skills for navigating daily life after rehab. Your group leader will direct and encourage discussions surrounding triggers, coping strategies, and how to replace bad habits with new ones.
Group members will learn vital tools for addiction recovery, such as interpersonal skills, communication skills, anger management, and stress management.
What are The Benefits of Group Sessions?
Group settings allow participants to get into a recovery mindset.
They provide a safe space for group members to share experiences and get honest feedback. Recovery is often an isolating process due to stigma and shame. Whereas friends and family members can’t always understand what you are going through, group members will have first-hand experience of substance use disorder.
Other group members can serve as role models and inspire you in your recovery. Group therapy also offers a sense of camaraderie and community, boosting morale and raising self-confidence. Feeling part of a team might make you feel held accountable and more incentivized to stay sober.
Addiction treatment comes with many challenges, but you don’t have to do it alone. Group therapy might provide the support you need to continue your recovery journey.
What are Common Group Therapy Activities?
Substance abuse groups are designed to discuss, consider, and reflect on topics that will aid growth and recovery.
Sometimes these topics are explored through activities. They might seem silly and irrelevant at first, but if you keep an open mind and get involved, you may be surprised at what you get out of them.
Common group therapy activities include:
Practicing anger management techniques
Discuss possible ways to cope with anger
Learn the benefits of living in the present moment
Encouraging you to think positively and gain self-esteem
A letter to your childhood self
What would you tell them? What advice would you give?
Pretend you are giving a speech to teenagers about substance abuse
What wisdom can you impart? What would you have wanted your teenage self to know?
Draw your tombstone
What would it say today? What would you like it to say one day? How do you want to be remembered? What do you want to change? This can be a vigorous activity but serves as an important way to reflect on your life and the impact of your choices.
There are many possible substance abuse group activities available. Each will focus on a specific topic that is essential for successful recovery. Some activities and issues may be challenging to explore, but remember that you are in a safe space and under professional care.
What are Common Substance Abuse Group Topics?
The therapy group leader will encourage discussion around specific topics and may center the entire session on one topic. These topics can sometimes be complex but are essential for substance abuse recovery.
Common substance abuse group topics include:
Common relapse triggers
You may discuss triggers and ways to overcome them. What coping skills do you find helpful?
The importance of physical fitness
Fitness is essential for health and wellbeing. You may discuss ways to keep fit. Do you have fitness goals or a fitness plan?
The importance of good nutrition
Hunger is part of HALT and a common relapse trigger. What is the benefit of planning meals ahead of time? Do you keep a food diary?
The importance of sleep
Tired is a part of HALT and sleep is also good for mental wellbeing. Do you have a sleep routine? What can help you sleep better?
The importance of self-care
Self-care is essential for well-being. How can you practice self-care?
How to spot mental illness
What are signs of depression to look out for? Will you benefit from medication or therapy?
How to keep good mental health
How can you keep track of your mental health? What resources are available to you if you feel you need help and support?
Your group may discuss mindfulness and the benefits of living in the present moment.
The pitfalls of isolation
You may discuss isolation risks. Remember HALT. Identify how much alone time is too much.
As a group, discuss stress management. What makes you stressed, and how can you control your stress?
How can you deal with anger? Discuss in group talks times you were angry and how you dealt with it.
The impact of negative thoughts
How do they influence your actions and behavior?
The power of gratitude
Discuss gratitude. What are you grateful for? How can you show someone you are thankful?
The power of forgiveness
The importance of letting go. Who would you like to forgive, and what would you say to them? What do you hope they would say back?
What does a healthy relationship look like? What is the importance of healthy relationships when in recovery? How can you work on relationships? Would family therapy be beneficial to regaining trust and building on existing relationships?
Boundaries are essential in recovery for both yourself and those around you. Dysfunctional people tend to have no boundaries. Discuss how to maintain boundaries with people in your life.
Through discussion, you will be able to discuss aspects of recovery you might not have considered before. This makes group therapy a vital outlet and an essential part of your recovery journey.
Join a Substance Abuse Therapy Group Today
Popular group therapy outlets include AA and 12-step, but you can find many types of substance abuse group therapy sessions across the country.
It is crucial to find the right one to ensure you get the best out of your time in group therapy. Your local addiction treatment center or rehab facility can provide information about group therapy near you.
Group therapy takes time and effort, but the payoff is worth it for a better chance of successful recovery.