Most addiction treatment centers, from smaller outpatient facilities to comprehensive centers with residential options, offer some form of group therapy or peer support.
Whether it’s 12-step meetings, SMART Recovery, or group therapy, these services are a crucial part of drug and alcohol treatment programs and aftercare support.
Many recovery support groups worldwide are also free of charge, making them an accessible and convenient option for continuing care and relapse prevention once treatment ends.
What Is Group Therapy For Substance Abuse?
Group therapy in addiction treatment consists of three or more people, led by a licensed therapist, working together through issues related to addiction using behavioral therapy.
Clients are given a judgment-free space and are encouraged to be open and honest to facilitate recovery and healing.
Sessions may occur anywhere from daily to monthly, depending on the level of care. For example, intensive outpatient treatment may require meeting twice a week, while inpatient programs may offer daily sessions.
What Are Peer Recovery Groups?
Peer recovery groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-step groups, are peer-led, non-professional options for building a support system during recovery.
They are often available at addiction treatment centers but can also be found at community centers or in other public locations.
Benefits Of Group Treatment Settings
There are numerous benefits to group therapy and peer support meetings that aren’t available in a one-on-one setting.
In group sessions, everyone knows that everyone else there has faced similar issues. This can create a sense of camaraderie and trust among participants.
People can openly share their thoughts and feelings, reduce self-stigma and shame, and help each other process and grow from difficult experiences or emotions.
When people attend group therapy or peer meetings on a regular basis, they can develop friendships and build community, which reduces feelings of isolation or loneliness and reduces the risk of relapse.
Group Activities In Addiction Recovery
In order to keep participants engaged and focused, leaders may offer different activities during sessions.
1. Practice Meditation
Learning to be present and mindful is a vital part of the recovery process. It supports well-being and helps prevent people from becoming overwhelmed or giving in to triggers.
In meditation sessions, participants will practice focusing on their breathing or on affirmations while allowing thoughts to come and go without engagement or judgment.
2. Use Question Balls
Question balls are a resource that group leaders may use to get topics of conversation going. They write recovery-related questions on a ball for participants to toss around, with the person holding the ball answering the question.
Questions may include, “What would you say to your younger self about addiction?” or, “What’s your favorite coping strategy during cravings?”
3. Find Ways To Show Gratitude
Practicing gratitude has proven benefits for mental and physical health, and it can boost recovery by helping people focus on the positives.
Participants can try making gratitude lists or having open discussions on ways to find and show gratitude in daily life.
4. Sound Therapy
Sound therapy may be most beneficial when offered by a trained practitioner, but music, instruments, or nature sounds may also be incorporated informally into group and peer sessions.
Participants can take turns playing a drum, striking a gong, or choosing classical music or relaxing nature sounds to play during sessions.
5. Share Triggers
One of the most common experiences people in recovery share is cravings and triggers to drink or use drugs, and discussing them can help prevent relapse.
Participants can also share different coping skills that have worked for them, as well as what hasn’t worked.
6. Learn About Self-Care
People with active addiction often neglect their mental and physical health, and it can take some time to relearn healthy habits.
Self-care includes creating a sleep routine, eating healthy meals, staying hydrated, exercising, and spending time with loved ones.
Participants can share how they are practicing self-care to encourage and inspire their peers.
7. Try Role-Playing Exercises
Role-playing is an effective way to help group members practice handling any tough situations that may arise during treatment, such as making apologies and amends to family members.
Having a foundation for how to handle conflict can help prevent emotions or worries from taking over when conflict arises in life.
8. Work On Goal Setting
Setting short- and long-term goals gives people in recovery something to work for, but they can sometimes struggle with determining what those goals should look like.
Group discussions can help people come up with or expand upon goals they want to achieve during recovery, such as getting to a sobriety milestone or landing a new job.
Much like journaling, doing some form of stream-of-consciousness writing can greatly help people with processing thoughts that may be troubling them.
Afterward, participants may be invited to share any surprising or revealing thoughts they had, if they feel comfortable doing so.
10. Use Aromatherapy
Like music and sounds, using essential oils informally during group sessions or meetings may help people feel relaxed, peaceful, and grounded.
This can be done using a diffuser, or people can be offered a selection of different oils to find one that appeals to them to dab on their wrists.
11. Play Charades
It’s important to have moments of levity during addiction recovery to help build camaraderie and enthusiasm, and playing charades can provide some.
Forms of charades like emotions charades can also encourage participants to explore their emotions and become more comfortable with them.
12. Draw Or Paint
Much like music, artistic activities can help people relax and focus on something soothing, which aids in recovery and healing.
Instruction may be led by an art therapist, or again, these activities may be more informal in nature, such as using watercolors, crayons, or paints expressively for 30 minutes.
Get Help For A Substance Use Disorder Today
If you or a loved one is looking for substance abuse treatment, you can find it today. Learn about addiction treatment programs by reaching out to us today.
Published on December 19, 2023
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
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- American Psychological Association (APA) – Psychotherapy: Understanding Group Therapy
- Mindful – Learn How To Meditate
- WebMD – Aromatherapy & Essential Oils