Group Therapy for Substance Abuse

Recover with the Help of Group Members in Rehab

The effectiveness of group therapy for substance abuse treatment is well documented. Addiction recovery is often aided by group therapy for many people. Meeting people who are also battling addiction is a great way to combat the feelings of loneliness and humiliation that are common in this field.

There are numerous options for substance abuse group therapy, including both specific types of groups and other types of environments. Group therapy can be found in a variety of settings, including hospitals, mental health clinics, community centers, and rehab centers for substance misuse.

Although group therapy is sometimes used alone, it is more commonly integrated into a larger program of care. It is common for addiction treatment programs to rely heavily on group therapy.

Keep reading to find out more about effective group therapy for substance abuse practices, and how Icarus Behavioral Health offers effective treatment programs for lasting recovery!

What Is Group Therapy?

What Is Group Therapy

Substance addiction group therapy entails a therapist (or therapists) facilitating a discussion among a diverse number of group members about issues related to mental health and substance abuse. Other group members in group sessions tend to number between two and ten.

The openness and trust that may be fostered in group therapy for substance abuse are invaluable. It’s inevitable that you’ll recognize yourself in others and that other group members will recognize themselves in you.

This is a great opportunity to develop your problem-solving and communication abilities as a group. Addiction treatment plans that don’t include group therapy for substance abuse may be missing a crucial element.

How Many Other Group Members Will There Be?

While a psychoeducational support group can have up to 24 participants, development groups typically have fewer than 16. It is common practice for a substance abuse therapist to work with a consistent clientele who attend regular sessions. Having the group trust one another like this is quite beneficial.

The length of time spent in group therapy varies from person to person but is often six months to a year, with the time for inpatient rehab clients being limited to their time at the facility and then in outpatient treatment.

The leader therapist and the specific style of group therapy determine the session structure. The therapist may bring up a specific issue related to substance misuse and provide an open forum for you to share your experiences. Different therapists may choose a more or less open-ended discussion format.

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What are the Different Forms of Group Therapy?

Different group therapy models and approaches exist. Common forms of group therapy used in addiction treatment include:

Psycho-educational Groups

Substance abuse and mental health are discussed in psycho-educational groups. Addiction as a disease, pharmaceuticals, medical and mental health issues, trauma, relapse prevention, and the building blocks of a healthy lifestyle may all be discussed. You will be asked to consider how the issues discussed in the group’s substance addiction therapy sessions connect to your own life.

Interpersonal Process Groups

In interpersonal process groups, members share and discuss challenges they’re facing in interpersonal relationships, as well as strategies for resolving those challenges and improving group dynamics as a whole. You’ll talk about a problem and listen to what other people think about it and how to fix it.

Relationships outside of treatment often mirror those you experience in interpersonal process groups. Since you are likely to experience some of the same dynamics with your group members that you do with your loved ones, this can be a useful method to work through these issues and improve your communication skills. Our rehab family programs offer another way of strengthening these bonds, for clients that want this as a component of their personalized treatment plan.

Training and Education

Training and education groups, or development groups, teach participants how to avoid relapse by providing them with the tools they need to function in society. You might find out how to say “no” to drugs, improve your communication skills, learn anger management strategies, practice relaxation methods, and deal with cravings and other desires. You will master new abilities and brush up on ones that may have been obscured by your addiction.

Group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

These groups use a variety of methods to aid members in identifying damaging patterns of thought and interpersonal interaction. You will learn how to solve problems, make plans, and recognize thoughts and feelings that can lead to substance abuse.

Daily life and staying sober in the face of adversity are common topics discussed in support groups. Even more so, in the beginning, stages of healing, they can offer crucial peer support and a sense of responsibility.

How Effective Are Groups?

How Effective Are Groups

It’s common for people in recovery from drug addiction to feel lonely and cut off from society. In group therapy, you can get support from others who understand what you’re going through because they’ve been there themselves. If you have friends who can relate, you might feel more comfortable opening out to them.

The support system provided by a group therapy session is vital. Maintaining sobriety over time requires a lot of hard work, but one of the most important factors is having a group of recovery friends to lean on. Gain self-assurance by working with the same folks at each session. The people who care about you can be a sounding board for you if you’ve had any setbacks or encounters with addiction triggers outside of the group. Group therapy provides a supportive environment that can be relied upon through difficult times in one’s rehabilitation.

Substance misuse group therapy can help you become more self-aware and able to express your feelings to others. Your counselor will help you gain self-assurance by encouraging you to talk about how you feel.

Additional Benefits of Group Therapy in Addiction Treatment

In group therapy, you not only receive support from your therapist, but you also provide support to your fellow patients. Instead of receiving counseling one-on-one from the counselor, everyone is given a chance to speak out and discuss the problem. The result can be an increase in confidence and team spirit.

Group therapy can help you better understand your connections with others, which in turn can improve your relationships with them and with yourself. A person’s interactions in therapy tend to reflect their relationships with those outside of it. The benefits of group therapy extend to the quality of your interpersonal connections.

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Differences Between Support and Therapy Groups

There is a distinction to be made between group therapy and support groups. The primary distinction is that professionals do not oversee support group meetings. Members of the group act as leaders. Meeting with other individuals who are going through the same things you are can help you process your feelings and find ways to cope. AA meetings are a well-known case in point.

Those who take part in the program frequently develop deep bonds with other members of their support groups. There are groups that encourage this by setting up a sponsor/sponsee relationship in which an established member helps a potential new member. If you’re having trouble, talk to someone in the group. Having this kind of help available all the time can be very useful in preventing relapse.

Where to Find Support Groups

Like group therapy, support groups can be found in a wide range of locations. Churches, hospitals, and other public buildings are all good options for hosting meetings. Meetings might take place in person, over the phone, or digitally. A doctor, nurse, or other medical or healthcare professional may be invited to speak at events to provide expert insight when necessary. Meetings often involve one person speaking.

Although support groups can be helpful, they shouldn’t be used in place of professional counseling. A support group’s primary function is to offer social and emotional assistance to individuals experiencing similar difficulties. Similarly to individual therapy, group therapy is led by a trained professional.

Which Type of Group Therapy Is Best for Me?

Unique Strengths

Addiction and mental health challenges respond well to both group and individual therapy. Due to their unique strengths, most people find that both are useful additions to their recuperation strategies.

Several key elements include:

  • Potential confidentiality
  • Ability to work at your own pace

Individual therapy may be more appealing if you need or want more time to talk with your therapist, but group sessions can be helpful for putting what you learn in private sessions into practice.

Those who are more extroverted tend to be more social, whereas those who are more introverted tend to keep to themselves. Group therapy can be beneficial for those who thrive on social interaction and who benefit from hearing the perspectives of others.

One of the benefits of group therapy as opposed to individual therapy is that you can hear multiple points of view instead of just one. Even if you’re more of an introvert, group therapy can be helpful and could be a good addition to individual sessions.

Getting the Most Out of Group Therapy

To get the most out of group therapy during substance abuse treatment, one must be receptive to both the providing and receiving of support. Sharing your true feelings and opinions with your group mates can be challenging at first. In fact, this is the norm. You may feel more at ease opening up to the group as others share their own experiences of hardship. In the safe space of group therapy, many individuals develop a new appreciation for the power and talents inherent in being vulnerable.

You will be encouraged to consider alternative points of view during group therapy. Some people may find this unsettling. Reflecting on group conversations outside of group meetings and working with an individual therapist can enhance the process, even if you start off unable to see things differently.

Etiquette of Group Therapy

Where people feel safe bringing up sensitive topics

The objective of group therapy is to create an environment where people feel safe bringing up sensitive topics and receiving constructive feedback from their peers. You can help sustain this ecosystem by taking certain actions.

In group therapy, it is important to do the following:

  • Be open and honest about the challenges you’ve faced in the group.
  • Actively take in what other people have to say when they are talking or asking questions.
  • Participate in group activities and help out those around you.
  • Take some time during group time to consider your emotions and thoughts.
  • Keep an open mind and try out new things.
  • Do your best to take what you’ve learned in the therapy group and use it beyond the confines of the group.

However, you don’t want to:

  • Interrupt another person while they are speaking.
  • Ignore the feelings of the other people in the group.
  • Tell someone outside of the group something that could be used to identify them or that gives a lot of detail about someone else in the group.

The therapist in charge of your group should be approached with any inquiries about the protocol and conduct expected of group members.

Discussion Topics and Group Activities for Substance Abuse

Substance addiction group therapy sessions can often wander off-topic due to the breadth of the issues addressed. Be open and adaptable throughout sessions so that the dialogue can flow naturally in response to the interests of the participants.

However, most groups will move on to new material every so often. During group sessions, members discuss and work on specific issues connected to recovery from substance abuse or to their own personal development. Substance abuse support groups may discuss:

  • Relationships
  • Codependency
  • Trauma
  • Restraint of Impulses
  • Self-esteem
  • Self-care
  • Establishing Objectives Managing Resources
  • Avoiding and resolving conflicts
  • Conquering Stress
  • Managing Anger

Education about Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Some types of groups may engage in thought-provoking discussions about a topic, while others will engage in hands-on activities designed to cement what they’ve learned. Stress management approaches that aid in healing could be the subject of discussion in a group setting. How you dealt with stress in the past and why that approach may not work for you today could be topics for discussion.

Key Takeaways of Most Group Therapy Sessions

Group Therapy Sessions

How to Improve Your Communication Abilities

In reality, few of us are as good communicators as we like to think we are. To make matters worse, we rarely know if the other person has heard us or understood what we’ve said because of how poorly we listen. Poor communication skills affect every aspect of our lives, from professional to personal to chance encounters.

Most people find that interpersonal disagreement is the most stressful aspect of their lives. Communication skills are honed in group therapy because everyone is working toward a common goal of listening and comprehending. The chances are high that someone else will correct you if you have misunderstood them. By observing how people misunderstand you and learning from your mistakes, your communication skills will improve dramatically. There isn’t often a chance like this in our regular contacts.

A Larger Variety of Feedback

Although it’s easy to assume that you know yourself better than anyone else, that’s rarely the case. Our perceptions of ourselves are always warped, and we learn the most about who we are from interacting with others. Because of this, group therapy presents a unique opportunity to get insight into who you are.

It’s more effective than individual therapy in many aspects. When participating in individual treatment, it is necessary to rely on the input of your therapist, which you may not always agree with. Even therapists have their own preconceptions and areas of weakness. For what may seem like good reasons, you may choose to ignore your therapist’s advice. One advantage of group therapy is the increased diversity of opinions that may be heard and considered.

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A Group Therapy Setting Designed for Your Success

Clients at Icarus Behavioral Health in New Mexico have access to a variety of group therapy sessions as part of their personalized treatment plans. You can pick the group gatherings you are most interested in, increasing the likelihood that you will find lifelong friendships among a newfound circle of friends.

Get in touch with our Admissions staff right away to learn more about our program’s group therapy and other treatment groups, such as recreational therapy for addictions and art therapy. All calls are completely confidential, so please reach out today to start on a new path of recovery with our help!

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