Group therapy for addiction treatment works because, at its core, it utilizes the natural inclination people have to gather in groups. Group therapy can be just as successful as individual therapy, and for some individuals it’s even better.1
Group therapy takes many forms, including:
- Psychoeducational groups to provide education about substance abuse
- Skill development groups to establish the skills needed to get and stay sober, such as anger management or skills for coping with cravings
- Cognitive behavioral groups that works on the thoughts and actions that contribute to substance abuse
- Support groups that provide the setting to share practical information about maintaining sobriety and living a substance-free life
In all of these forms of group therapy, you have opportunities to help yourself and others by sharing your experiences and knowledge. In turn, you’re exposed to the sobriety skills and knowledge of your fellow group members, which can be useful for acquiring successful tools for your recovery journey.
Group Therapy for Addiction in the Early Stages of Treatment
When you first enter addiction treatment, you may be unsure about your decision to seek sobriety. You may also have rigid thinking, and your ability to solve problems might be compromised by the effects substance abuse had on your brain and body. Due to these factors, denial and resistance to treatment may be high.
Group therapy can help you overcome these obstacles, because the experiences of the peers in your group is sometimes easier to accept than information from a single therapist. Relapse is at its highest risk in the early stages of treatment, so time is of the essence. Barriers to accepting information are broken down more quickly by using a group setting.
Group Therapy for Addiction in the Middle Stages of Treatment
Relapse is still a concern in the middle stages of treatment, and group therapy for addiction plays a major role in helping to prevent a regression back to substance use. You or one of your peers may forget how bad addiction was. Many people in treatment also trick themselves into thinking that, if they take drugs or alcohol again, next time they’ll be able to control it.
The group can help members who are experiencing these feelings and thoughts that can lead to relapse by pointing out how much progress the person has made and by suggesting new sources of satisfaction.2 If you’ve experienced the type of flawed thinking that someone else is also experiencing, you can talk about what you went through to help the other person.
Group Therapy for Addiction in the Later Stages of Treatment
In the later phases of treatment, group therapy for addiction is still an invaluable resource. Even though you and your peers have been stabilized and strengthened to face life without substances, group therapy may be needed to deal with the interpersonal relationships a newly sober person has to face.2 Others may require groups to help them rebuild their communication or job skills, which increases their likelihood of success in independent living.
By utilizing group therapy in your journey toward a sober and rewarding life, you can benefit from the ongoing social support that talking with your peers offers. Research has shown that positive outcomes are achieved when group therapy for addiction is part of a comprehensive treatment plan.3