When researching addiction treatment programs, you may be surprised to see that nearly all centers offer group therapy services. Why are groups so popular? The research speaks for itself. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) calls this approach “a source of powerful curative forces that are not always experienced by the client in individual therapy.” This is especially true for men seeking freedom from addiction. Today, we’ll discuss the benefits of group therapy for lasting recovery.
The Importance of Support in Recovery
Addiction is a lonely experience. While some men may begin by drinking or using drugs with others, substance use disorder almost always becomes secretive and all-encompassing. In some cases, this looks like a man hiding a flask in his jacket pocket at a family event. In others, he may begin spending more and more time away from his spouse and children to obtain, use, and recover from drugs. This secrecy and compulsion results in separation from loved ones, friends, and coworkers: in a word, isolation.
Group therapy is a direct answer to the solitude experienced by men in active addiction. When facing a substance use disorder alone, it’s easy to feel ashamed, guilty, depressed, and overwhelmed. Many men bottle these emotions up, refusing to express them to others, which causes their mental state to worsen over time. Opening up to a group is a great opportunity to embrace vulnerability, learn from others, and gain new friends in recovery. The culture created by 12-Step meetings is one of the greatest assets of group therapy.
Why Group Therapy Works
Humans are social creatures. We are born into groups and, over the course of our lives, will become a part of many cohorts. Families, communities, sports teams, religions, coworkers, professional organizations, circles of friends, and memberships are all examples of groups that the average person may join. In short, it’s natural to seek out others for fellowship – we’re hard-wired to do it.
How do groups impact their members? The effects vary by organization, but on the whole, they shape people’s opinions, define desirable behavior, provide support in difficult times, and help people to grow and find solutions. Researchers have found that these actions can be immensely advantageous for people in recovery. Here are just a few benefits offered by group therapy:
- Insight and guidance are provided by other members of the group.
- Positive peer enforcement shapes prosocial behavior.
- Healthy, safe confrontation teaches members to respond well to others.
- Accountability fostered by the group reinforces sobriety.
- Support gives members people to contact in times of trouble and dispels isolation.
- Comfort and understanding alleviate feelings of guilt and shame associated with addiction.
- Inspiration can be found by listening to others’ success stories.
- Social skills are gained through ongoing interactions in a group setting.
- Natural allies are found in the battle against relapse and addiction.
- Others provide examples for how to handle specific situations in sobriety.
- Structure is given to those who attend meetings regularly.
- Men learn to share their feelings, thoughts, and concerns in a safe space.
Types of Group Therapy
Group therapy can take many forms, depending on the facilitator, members, and treatment goals of one’s program. For example, some centers offer spiritually focused sessions for those adhering to specific belief systems. Others focus on dismantling the unhealthy thought processes associated with active addiction.
There are five basic types of group therapy:
- Skills groups teach men to manage their finances, prepare meals, and otherwise care for themselves. These classes establish independence, making an incredible difference in relapse prevention.
- Support groups serve to foster constructive change. In this setting, men can challenge one another’s excuses and encourage one another to make progress.
- Educational groups teach men in treatment about the mechanisms behind substance use disorder. By developing an understanding of addiction, it is possible to avoid behaviors that may lead to relapse.
- Cognitive-behavioral groups are led by trained therapists. Their goal is to change the patterns of cognition (thinking) and action (behavior) that led each member to addiction. Dismantling old beliefs makes room for healthier choices in the future.
- Process groups serve as a time of reflection. Each participant recreates what has happened to him in the past and, with the group, rethinks the problems he has avoided through alcohol or drug abuse.
Many centers will offer a combination of the above groups. Research indicates that the blend of therapeutic intervention, peer support, and educational sessions can improve the likelihood of positive outcomes. If you are interested in participating in group therapy for substance use disorder, The Last Resort is just one phone call away.
Find Fellowship at The Last Resort
At The Last Resort, we understand the importance of support and encouragement at all stages of recovery. Our groups are specifically designed with your needs in mind. We have special programs for current and former members of the military, trauma survivors, professionals, those experiencing grief and loss, and even families. To learn more about our services, contact our admissions office.