Since the disease of addiction is a very complex illness with diverse effects, recovery from addiction requires one to receive a variety of treatments and therapies. In an addiction treatment program, each individual treatment is an important component of the overall program, treating specific effects and symptoms of addiction while other therapies address other specific effects. As such, recovery is a very cumulative process with treatments serving to slowly chip away at the profound destruction wrought by active chemical dependency.
Although the treatment process is different for everyone—which reflects the high variability regarding the effects of addiction that each addict experiences—there are certain therapeutic offerings that are considered basic or essential components of an effective addiction treatment program. One of the most essential addiction treatments is group therapy. In fact, group therapy is widely considered to be the quintessential form of addiction counseling. However, how exactly does group therapy fit into addiction treatment and what role does group therapy play in the recovery process?
What Exactly is Group Therapy?
More often than not, when individuals talk about therapy, they are referring to individual counseling between a single patient and a single therapist. While individual counseling is also a core component of an effective addiction treatment program, many would suggest that group therapy is of equal importance due to being effective in addressing other aspects of addiction. By definition, group therapy is a form of counseling that takes place between a group of patients and one or more therapists. Whereas individual therapy is patient-focused and is typically intended to help individuals overcoming insecurities and address mental and emotional distress, group therapy is more social in nature and oftentimes will focus more on skills-building.
Each group therapy session will revolve around a general topic in order to guide the session’s discussion; this serves as a way for each patient to benefit from the perspectives of their peers and, therefore, can afford them great insight into shared experiences. Additionally, group therapy is an effective medium for teaching patients a variety of skills, including coping skills or anger management. By learning these skills and strategies with peers, patients have shown to benefit from the built-in support network and encouragement that the group setting provides.
The Purpose of Group Therapy for Substance Abuse
Addiction is a very lonely disease. Over the course of active addiction, individuals often damage or even destroy many of the relationships that had been very dear to them. And as lonely as addiction may seem, individuals often feel even more alone in the early stages of recovery because they aren’t able to hide or numb their feelings with alcohol and drugs. The intensity of these emotions combined with the daunting task of recovery ahead can make individuals feel like there’s nobody who understands what it is that they are going through. However, group therapy allows individuals in recovery to make connections with peers who are often experiencing the same things and feeling much the same way. In addition to making individuals feel less lonely, group therapy helps individuals in recovery to re-learn healthy, respectful communication skills without using substance abuse as a social buffer.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), group therapy is effective because humans are naturally, innately social creatures. By participating in group therapy as part of one’s recovery from addiction, individuals feel more connected to others, become more motivated by witnessing others’ progress firsthand, receive positive support and encouragement from peers, and are affording with a safe environment in which they can be accepted and can share openly without fear of judgement.
Why Group Therapy is an Essential Part of Addiction Recovery
While the personal benefits of group substance abuse therapy are great, group therapy tends to be one of the most widely-implemented treatments for substance abuse for several reasons. Group therapy has proven to be a highly effective medium for teaching individuals in recovery a variety of skills that are essential to sustaining long-term sobriety. Moreover, group therapy is an ideal format for addiction education and psychoeducation, which help patients to become knowledgeable about the disease of addiction and ways to optimize chances for success in recovery.
Another important feature of group therapy is that it offers each patient a reliable support network of peers with many groups becoming a family over the course of their treatment sessions. Therapists who lead group therapy sessions are oftentimes able to incorporate components of cognitive behavioral therapy into group sessions, which helps patients turn their negative thoughts and feelings into more positive and productive ones. Finally, group therapy is an overtly social experience and is often one of the primary ways for patients in a recovery program to become more skilled at alcohol- and drug-free socialization.
Let Recovery Hub Help You Overcome Your Chemical Dependency
There are many treatments and therapies that have proven to be highly effective in treatment substance use disorders. However, group therapy has become the quintessential addiction treatment because it provides patients with a safe and accepting environment, a strong support network of peers, and encourages them to share and learn. If you or someone you love would benefit from learning more about group therapy or other forms of treatment, call Recovery Hub at 1-888-220-4352. Let one of our recovery specialists help you find the best recovery program and return to a life of health, fulfillment, and sobriety.