Substance Abuse Group Topics, Recovery Group Topics

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

  • Practicing mindfulness

    Learn the benefits of living in the present moment

  • Self-affirmations

    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?

  • Mindfulness

    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.

  • Stress management

    As a group, discuss stress management. What makes you stressed, and how can you control your stress?

  • Anger management

    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?

  • Relationships

    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

    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.

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Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner

Facilitator

As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns

Clinician

Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
 
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine