Group Therapy for Addiction

What Makes Group Therapy a Powerful Tool?

Group therapy may be a great way to cope with your issues and make life changes, but it depends on the nature of your issue.

A trained counselor typically directs therapy with group members numbering 5-15 people. In most cases, weekly get-togethers (or daily, in some cases) last between an hour and two hours. Some people in treatment prefer to focus only on group therapy, while others may combine it with individual sessions.

Methods, strategies, and tools employed by every rehab and every group vary significantly. But this doesn’t make one any less or more effective than others for the group members.

If you’ve had reservations about the effectiveness of group therapy, this article is for you. At Icarus Behavioral Health in Nevada, we rely on the powerful results of peer groups on a daily basis to help our clients heal and forge new bonds that they can take with them for the rest of their lives.

Why Group Therapy for Addiction?

Group Therapy for Addiction Treatment

Group therapy sessions exist for things like:

  • Medical paranoia
  • Death in the family
  • Marriage
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Terminal patients

It is not always clear whether or not drug addiction group treatment is helpful. Sometimes, when dealing with something as serious as addiction, the thought of attending a support group meeting can be terrifying.

Yet many people who have made it through the drug abuse and misuse group treatment credit it with helping them stay clean.

What’s the Primary Operating Procedure of a “Group Therapy” Session?

Group members set up the meeting list during the days leading up to the session in an in-person or remote setting. Most substance abuse treatment support groups last an hour or two. Like with individual treatment, group therapy can be either open or closed.

Open and Closed Groups

In a closed group, everyone joins at the same time, and only the specified list of group members is invited.

For instance, in a 12-week session, a select group of people might work together. Substance addiction treatment groups bring people together to talk about their struggles and discover new coping mechanisms. Clients will develop the ability to discuss their problems openly in front of a group and take constructive criticism.

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Clear Benefits of Group Therapy for Addiction Treatment

Group therapy for substance abuse has been shown to be effective for many people, but it isn’t the single best choice for everyone. Other group members in the thick of their struggle may not feel comfortable opening up about their experiences or engaging in group treatment. A professional counselor or addiction expert should always be consulted to determine the best course of action in any given circumstance.

Group therapy  “mediators” or “facilitators” play an important role in protecting members’ privacy and fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect within the community. The bulk of your assignment will be dedicated to developing yourself by receiving and providing feedback and encouragement.

If you’re part of a group working toward the same objective, you’ll have someone to bounce ideas off of and encourage you. When facing a challenging situation or obstacle in life, having a group of people to feed off is invaluable.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) supports group therapy settings as highly effective to promote recovery.

Likewise, conversing with and listening to others who have had similar difficulties or trauma may help put one’s own issues into context. It’s common for people with addiction or mental health issues to feel alone in their struggle. It might be comforting to know that you are not alone when going through tough times. It’s a relief, and it lays a good foundation for change.

What Benefits Does Group Therapy for Drug Addiction Provide?

What Benefits Does Group Therapy for Drug Addiction Provide

The following .  are a significant byproduct of group sessions for substance abuse as opposed to individual therapy:

Low Cost. Individual counseling has often been more costly than group therapy. Free 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and SMART Recovery may find a lot of support from the other group members.

An environment conducive to recovery. Addiction may create a poisonous environment and encourage unhealthy relationships. In contrast, the supportive bonds you’ll form in a group therapy session will feel more genuine.

Common Ground. Being immersed in one’s culture and surrounded by people who share similar values might aid in the process of healing. Group members’ varied experiences and opinions aid in the healing process because of the group’s diversity.

Express how you feel. Speaking freely and honestly is valued and even encouraged in group therapy. This has the potential to give previously unheard voices a platform. Group therapy may be comforting since it reminds an addict that they are not alone in their struggle. If they have been keeping their problems from loved ones, this might take a great weight off their shoulders.

Confidence Booster. One of the terrifying aspects of sobriety is the prospect of falling back into old habits. Identifying and reducing anxiety about potential relapse triggers is facilitated by role-playing exercises. Building one’s confidence and sense of self-worth via therapeutic encouragement.

Non-Judgmental. At times of crisis, members of the group may always count on the unconditional support and attention provided by their therapist.

Potential Disadvantages of Group Sessions

All of our hardships, no matter how great or tiny, have varied effects on us because of the unique ways in which we experience and interpret the world. Group treatment for substance misuse has been shown to be effective, but it may not be the best option for everyone.

The following could be potentially limiting or negative factors regarding group substance abuse therapy:

It may not be suitable for emergency or severe depression situations.

  • Potential to take things the wrong way. Negative feedback can make some individuals feel condemned or attacked, which is not helpful while attempting positive progress in substance abuse treatment.
  • Those who have emotional outbursts, such as vocal or nonverbal displays of violence or hostility, may disrupt the group therapy process.
  • The group setting isn’t ideal for those who get nervous easily in front of an audience or struggle with social interaction.
  • Therapy groups need to be consistent despite other commitments. Weekly meetings may not be the greatest choice if they conflict with someone’s busy schedule.
  • Personality conflicts: not everyone in a group needs to get along, but mutual respect must be preserved. Group therapy may not be the greatest method of healing when personalities clash or become difficult.

Confidentiality is essential in group therapy. It’s better to stay away from these gatherings if you’re concerned that your personal information may be mishandled or shared with others.

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When Is the Support Group Model Advised Against?

Individual treatment, like group therapy, aims to treat the root causes of addiction. The client’s reliance on drugs or alcohol may be a response to stress from their job, social life, family, or local community. Personal counseling and family therapy also can aid in the development of strategies for coping with various kinds of stress factors.

The following disorders are better fit for individual settings:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • OCD
  • PTSD

Those who suffer from these disorders are usually more introverted and, in some cases, are even triggered in larger group environments.

Residential Treatment Programs That Include Group Therapy

Residential Treatment Programs That Include Group Therapy

The following are the best examples of situations that warrant a group meeting:

Alumni Group Meetings

After leaving residential treatment, several facilities provide alumni clubs where former clients may continue to help one another r. Anybody from the staff at the rehabilitation center or an alum might lead these meetings. Less often than therapy groups, and with membership mostly voluntary, these groups have the same goal but meet less regularly.

12-Step Group Meetings

Group therapy can also take the shape of support groups like Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, SMART Recovery, and Celebrate Recovery. Instead of depending on a hired, qualified counselor to be the group leader, members of these groups take it upon themselves to volunteer for the many tasks required to ensure the smooth running of the meeting.

These events are often held at several times and days of the week and at a number of different places. Meetings are easy to fit into a busy schedule, especially in bigger areas, where they may be held every day of the week.

Overcoming Your Reservations About Group Therapy

Some people have doubts about the effectiveness of group therapy. Some of the most popular excuses given for skipping it are as follows:

  • Those who attend group meetings but don’t feel like they’re getting any useful information to aid in their personal healing.
  • Having the impression that their issues are too unique to be addressed by the group as a whole.
  • Afraid that certain members of the group may leak personal details to others.
  • Problems with transportation
  • Complications with the schedule
  • Disliking the general atmosphere of a group or its leader.

Generally, these are just ways to avoid the group setting because of a disdain for the model in one form or another.

Group Therapy: What to Expect

With the knowledge of how helpful group counseling can be, this is what to anticipate during a group therapy session.

Depending on the available space, the average size of a group therapy session ranges from 3 to 15 participants. Groups typically get together twice a month for two hours each time, although they might meet more frequently if necessary.

Open and Locked Groups

Open groups can have everyone join, but locked groups require approval from a select few. In open groups, newcomers are welcome at any moment, but in closed ones, regulars are limited to staying involved until the end of the sessions.

On-Site and Peer Support

On-site group therapy sessions at a rehabilitation facility are often confidential. Peer support groups like AA, NA, and others may be open or private according on the group’s preferences.


Group therapy sessions are often held in a room with seats arranged in a semicircle. Although a group sitting in a circle can feel awkward at first, it’s actually a great way to foster communication and build relationships. For bigger gatherings, the seats may be in rows facing a platform.

Getting Familiar

Please introduce yourself. The norm at the start of a session is for everyone to introduce themselves. No one expects you to spill the beans right now. Introduce yourself and explain why you’re here in this group setting.

Finding Common Ground

Conversation between the group. What follows is the enchanted part. The therapist usually takes the lead in deciding whether the session will emphasize talking or learning. Be ready to talk if the meeting is more conversational.

Feeling anxious is normal, but remember that everyone here is fighting an uphill battle to achieve a common objective. Do not be shy in expressing your thoughts, feelings, anxieties, fears, hopes, and concerns. You’re in a secure area now.

Helpful Literature

Study aids. The therapist may employ a number of tools throughout the session to facilitate the integration of new information. Visual aids, written assignments, audio recordings, role acting, and even homework might all fall under this category.

The Updating Segment

You’ll become used to the “update” portion of group therapy as you continue to attend group therapy sessions. The procedure is straightforward: just talk about what you’ve done and learned since we last met. In a group therapy session, everyone is encouraged to speak out.

The Benefits of Support Groups for Substance Abuse Recovery

The Benefits of Support Groups for Substance Abuse Recovery

Addiction treatment programs often include group therapy since being with others in the same boat might assist you:

A person’s sobriety might be reinforced by the encouragement of peers in a group therapy setting.

,. sober is a major challenge during the rehabilitation recovery process itself. Fortunately, being in a group treatment setting with other individuals who are also trying to kick their addiction may be motivating.

In contrast to one-on-one therapy, which is focused only on you, group therapy provides the unique opportunity to learn from and grow with others who are also on a similar path to sobriety. Hearing other people’s progress from week to week is a great way to maintain motivation. Hearing the happy endings of others might serve as a reminder that recovery from substance abuse is possible, which in turn can increase one’s own sense of worth.

Staying clean might have more meaning when you know you’ll have to report on your progress at the next group therapy session. Participating in group therapy may be a powerful aid in rising to the challenge of overcoming substance abuse and achieving sobriety.

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Solidify Your Recovery with Group Therapy and Icarus Now!

At Icarus Behavioral Health, we specialize in multiple models of evidence-based group therapy based on building the most solid foundation for recovery possible for our clients, and we’d love to have you as our next participant.

For more information about the types of support group therapy we provide, contact a member of our admissions team today. All calls are completely confidential, so please reach out to get options for your recovery now!