Drug Addiction Group Therapy

Thursday 14th April 2011

There are many competing approaches to alcohol and drug addiction recovery, but none of them can claim to be the single “best” approach for treatment. 

This is because the people in rehab programs are different and so the program will work differently for them.  Despite individual differences drug addiction group therapy is widely regarded as one of the best all round types of therapy. If your rehab centre doesn’t incorporate group therapy as a part of its modality you should be asking if you’re in the right place!

There are a few different sorts of group therapy that we will look at.  The first are support groups such as those offered by Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.  The next are professionally run group therapy sessions.  The chief differences are that you will have to pay to join drug addiction group therapy, its facilitated by two counsellors and the focus may be more on education, interpersonal dynamics, and exploring how these could serve your recovery better.

Drug addiction group therapy has several benefits to the members attending, particularly if they attend over a period of time.  The full benefits will usually start to be felt after a few months of attendance.

Firstly it is tremendously helpful to discover that there are other people in the same situation as you. This was the first of Dr. Irvin Yalom’s eleven ‘curative’ fators. It’s reassuring to find people who share your problems because you can learn from their experiences.  These shared experiences of the group will help you to learn new coping strategies.

Secondly there is hope to be gained from seeing that people who have been in the same desperate situation as you have been able to find recovery from substance dependency.  Seeing them feeling happy and physically well is also a motivation to continue engaging in recovery behaviours.

Thirdly, many addicts walk around with a great deal of shame and remorse around their past.  Drug addiction group therapy provides an opportunity to unburden yourself in a safe and non-judgmental environment.  Having a group with which to share your shame is an opportunity to discover that others have done similar things – this diminishes the sense of shame.

Fourth, because drug addiction group therapy sessions involve other people they offer you the opportunity to build on your social skills.  You’ll have the chance to interact in a safe social environment and receive feedback from people who care about you.  You’ll pick up new skills that help you to feel more comfortable in groups outside therapy.

Drug addiction therapy groups lead by therapists or counsellors can be more beneficial than attending 12 step support groups alone (AA & NA). For a start they are generally smaller than free self-help groups and the people are more likely to keep coming to the same group (self-help groups typically offer a number of choices for people to go to).  This means that you’ll get to know the members very personally.  Another benefit is that the issues that you share in drug addiction group therapy are more likely to remain confidential as there are clearly stipulated boundaries for group members.   

Professional addiction counsellors leading the drug addiction recovery group will help patients to understand their issues and to explore several potential ways forward.

Another sort of drug addiction group therapy focuses less on treatment and rather looks at providing information to the members.  These “psycho-educational” groups aim to teach the members new coping strategies.  The amount of socializing within the group will be reduced.  These groups are not meant to be lectures where the members sit passively and accept knowledge.  Rather, members should participate actively.

If you’re looking to join one of the drug addiction therapy groups on offer but are not sure where to start looking then please contact one of our addiction treatment specialists today.  They will be able to direct you to your local support groups and professionally run therapy groups.

Article by We Do Recover

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