Group therapy for substance abuse is a form of addiction counselling where a trained mental healthcare professional uses interventions to treat more than one individual at a time.
Group therapy usually works on psychological principles and offers tools for achieving and maintaining successful, long-term sobriety.
Through group dynamics, drug and alcohol addicts foster hope and examine core issues responsible for their addictive behaviors in the first place.
They will also learn appropriate communication skills. For example, a client can learn to process negative emotions like anger and constructively express them.
Despite what the addiction treatment centres provide, support groups are involved with addiction recovery and relapse prevention.
These support groups are designed to foster a sense of community among peers during and after the rehab.
Another reason for the efficacy of group therapy is its rewarding benefits. Because addiction often isolates people from their surroundings, group therapy teaches them the ability to share information, the development of social support, the ability to learn from others, and a feeling of togetherness. But what are these group therapy activities?
Literally, thousands of group activities may occur in an addiction treatment centre or rehab, and this article summons a few of them that group leaders can use to help.
15 Addiction Recovery Group Activities
1. Discuss Triggers
Every individual is unique and may respond differently in unfavorable conditions. For example, while one may feel uncontrollable to drinking if they experience anger or loneliness, others may get triggered to use alcohol by even seeing a bottle at home.
Hence, it is beneficial to identify and discuss common triggers for substance abuse. To help, you should suggest coping strategies or skills participants can use to stay sober in triggering situations.
2. Physical Activities
Spending time in physical activities is a great tool to divert attention. Hence, it is vital to bring all the group participants together and discuss the importance of working out or exercising daily.
In addition, group leaders should ask them if they have any fitness goals and how they are planning to meet them. Finally, discuss addiction recovery benefits associated with physical activities.
3. Importance Of Sleep
Getting adequate sleep plays a vital role in maintaining good health. Hence, discussion about the importance of sleep in group sessions is crucial.
In addition, therapists should ask alcohol or drug addicts if they get enough sleep, if they get too much sleep, or if they need any improvements in this area.
Later, you can share a few tips with them, including getting up at the same time each day, avoiding caffeine, avoiding screen time before sleeping, etc.
Opening up in front of 100 people can be challenging, especially if an individual is an introvert or it’s been a long time since they have talked to anyone.
Hence, icebreakers are essential for peers to know each other and interact. You can include an icebreaker group activity for addiction recovery.
For example, ask your patients to introduce themselves by sharing three weird, funny or interesting things they have.
5. Act Of Resilience
One thing that addiction recovery demand is resilience. People cannot give up if they are on the path to recovery.
To make them understand that, ask them to draw or paint a picture of something in nature that shows resilience—for example, cactus in a desert or tree roots bursting up from the sidewalk.
Talk about your own resilience in the face of challenges and teach participants how they can become more resilient in future.
6. Reflect On Questions And Requests
An everyday ongoing activity in substance use groups for individuals is to bring their specific requests and questions into the limelight and let the group reflect on them.
Some common topics that people often ask questions about in the groups include relationship issues, frustrations with treatment, risk of relapse or actual relapse, etc.
7. Discuss Recovery Beliefs
Talking about the recovery goals also helps people to stay committed to their treatment.
Individuals in the groups can discuss where they believe they stand in their recovery journey, what they have accomplished so far, and what they want to accomplish in the future.
As individuals share their recovery beliefs, other members and therapists can give feedback.
8. Discuss Gratitude
It is essential for recovering addicts not to lose hope and focus on the positive aspects of life.
Hence, the discussion of gratitude must happen where every individual comes forward and identifies things they are grateful for in life.
Also, this activity is somewhat similar to what people discuss in 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
9. Develop Basic Skills
Recovery support groups also teach people some basic skills where the therapist directs the practice of these skills in the group, and later, individuals proactively discuss their experiences.
A few basic skills that individuals get to refine during substance use disorder treatment include progressive relaxation, visualization, meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, etc.
10. Discuss Mental Health Issues
Most people who draw towards addiction have one or the other underlying mental health issue. Hence, psychological conditions need to be discussed in group therapies.
Whether it is depression, anxiety, or stress that is more common in the participants in the group, you can have them discuss their mental health issues and how they overcome them. It directly or indirectly inspires their peers in the group.
11. Discuss Communication Barriers
People may realize it or not, but language is a common barrier that directly impacts addiction recovery.
This discussion may lead to recognizing specific words and sentences associated with addiction and how language influences thinking and behavior.
For example, how an individual expresses or thinks about things can either enhance or limit their recovery.
12. Find Goals:
Often, people with addiction spend all their time drinking or using drugs of choice, isolating themselves from other activities.
Hence, when they enter an addiction treatment centre, they feel lost and think they have no options regarding activities and goals.
Support groups thus help people find alternating activities for substance abuse and develop positive goals in these situations.
13. Discuss Best & Worst Moments
Value judgments are often very subjective and based on specific conditions. For example, a common group activity that therapists usually use for recovering addicts is to have them list the good and bad moments of their lives.
Then, therapists and other group members ask them why they think these particular moments are good and evil and if they see any similarities or patterns in the occurrence of both.
When individuals engage in this exercise, they learn that there is nothing good or bad in life, and everything is subjected to their way of thinking.
You can also ask them to write down their bad habits and find something positive in all of them.
Substance abuse clients often regret their wrongdoings and have a hard time forgiving themselves.
However, they must understand that their actions were the reactions to their bad habits or addiction, which doesn’t reflect their true personality.
Hence, the therapists must have the group members practice self-love daily. First, ask your clients to clear their minds by taking deep breaths and closing their eyes.
Then, you can read affirmations to the group members in a calming voice and have them repeat after you with their eyes closed.
This activity is recommended for not more than ten minutes. Afterwards, ask your clients how this exercise made them feel to spark a discussion.
15. Discuss Fears
Admitting fears in public can be an overwhelming experience, and recovering addicts may also feel uncomfortable.
However, therapists must conduct this exercise to make group members understand that they all have fears.
You can do this activity by handing a piece of paper to each group member and asking them to write their fears without letting anybody know what they are writing.
Next, collect all the papers in a bowl or paper bag and pick out each one by one. Read off each fear without telling the name of the writer.
This activity will help them understand that all of them are struggling and can comfort each other.
There are endless advantages to group therapies that people are yet to experience.
However, a few mentioned above can be a great sneak peek at what you can learn in an addiction treatment centre or a support group.
All these addiction counselling activities can be a breakthrough in your addiction recovery process, making you stronger, healthier, and happier than ever.
Contact your nearest rehab centre today if you are looking for more ways group therapy can enhance your recovery.