Recovering from alcohol or drug addiction can be overwhelming and frightening, and if you have decided to seek help, congratulations. Many options for treatment are available in Colorado, including highly effective addiction rehab programs. If you’re in search of help, you may wonder what types of treatment options exist. One highly effective method is group therapy. Below are details and significant benefits of group therapy for substance abuse.
Human beings possess a natural propensity to develop connections and congregate in groups. Addiction researchers at Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) assert, “group therapy a powerful therapeutic tool for treating substance abuse, one that is as helpful as individual therapy, and sometimes more successful.”
Prevalence of Alcohol and Drug Addiction in Colorado
If you are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, you are not alone. While substance abuse is a problem in many states, a national survey shows Colorado residents are above the national average for substance abuse with opioids, cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol. According to a Colorado Health Institute report, nearly one in three Colorado residents in some counties are consuming alcohol at dangerous levels.
AspenRidge Recovery provides tailored treatment plans that address drug and alcohol abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders. Our programs cater to each individual, and we combine group and individual therapy to help manage different aspects of recovery. To learn more, contact us directly at 855-281-5588.
What is Group Therapy?
Depending on the nature of your problem, group therapy can be an ideal choice for addressing your concerns and making positive changes in your life.
The American Psychological Association describes group therapy for substance abuse as a qualified treatment professional leading a group of roughly five to 15 participants. It’s common for these group meetings to last one to two hours each week. Some undergoing treatment may also use group therapy combined with individual sessions, and some may choose to focus on group therapy exclusively.
Every program and group is different in approach, methodology, and techniques used. However, there are numerous groups available that can address different issues and situations, for example:
- Chronic disease
- Family and Loss
- Mental health
- Substance Abuse
The benefits of group therapy for substance abuse are not always evident. The fear of participating in group meetings, especially when facing something grave like addiction can feel overwhelming and unsettling. Still, many who have moved through group therapy for substance abuse view it as a positive asset for long-term recovery.
How Does It Work?
Group therapy usually involves a group of not fewer than three or more than fifteen participants. They meet with a trained therapist at regularly scheduled times in person or online. These sessions are usually between thirty minutes and two hours each. Typically, group therapy can be designated as an open group or closed group.
- Open Group: New members are free to join at any time
- Closed Group: All members begin the group at the same time
A closed group may take part in a 12-week session together, for example. Group therapy aims to discuss a shared concern and to learn strategies for dealing with substance abuse. Using communication and socialization skills, clients will learn how to express their issues and receive feedback or criticism from other group members. This is one of the many benefits of group therapy for substance abuse.
Benefits of Group Therapy
While there are arguably numerous benefits of group therapy for substance abuse, it’s important to note that it’s not always the right approach for every individual. Some who are battling with substance dependency, especially in the throes of it, may not feel ready yet to share their story or participate in group therapy. It’s always best to discuss the best approach regarding a specific situation with a licensed therapist or addiction specialist.
Therapists that lead group discussions help to ensure that the community remains confidential and that members treat one another respectfully. Most of the work is focused on personal growth, achieved through feedback and support.
Groups, especially when aligned with a common goal, can act as a support network and a sounding board. As a team, other members can help provide feedback and ideas for improving a difficult situation or life challenge, while holding you accountable along the way.
Additionally, talking and listening to others who share common obstacles or even trauma can provide perspective for personal problems. It’s easy to feel as though you’re the only person struggling through addiction or mental health difficulties. Group therapy can serve as a reassurance that you’re, in fact, not alone in those struggles. It can be a relief and also serve as the positive groundwork for change.
Other of group therapy for substance abuse:
- Cost – individual therapy has historically been more expensive. Communities often support free group therapy such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and SMART Recovery.
- Bonding – addiction often breeds toxic environments and fosters relationships that can be harmful. Group therapy provides the opposite experience with more meaningful relationships that foster growth and support.
- Culture – being surrounded by like-minded individuals can help support long-term recovery.
- Diversity – group members come from all walks of life and different backgrounds offer different perspectives that can help speed up the recovery process.
- Openness – in group therapy, speaking openly and honestly, is welcomed and even encouraged. This can help bring voice to issues that were once ignored or overlooked.
- Relief – addiction thrives in isolation, so group therapy provides consolation that a person is not alone. This can be a huge relief for issues they’ve been hiding from friends and family.
- Roleplay – one of the scariest things about recovery is the possibility of relapse. Roleplaying activities help to address relapse triggers and ease concerns.
- Self-esteem – encouragement in a therapeutic setting can build confidence and self-esteem.
- Safe Haven – group therapy focuses on all members and provides a safety net that is reliable, especially in times of need.
- Skill building – interacting in a group setting builds key skills that help individuals integrate with society much more seamlessly. These include socializing and communication skills in addition to listening, assisting, and leading others.
Disadvantages of Group Therapy
The Institute of Counseling suggests that every counseling or treatment program should be tailored to the individual. In life, every person is different. We experience and perceive the world differently and our struggles – regardless of how big or small – impact us differently. While the benefits of group therapy for substance abuse are apparent, they may not be suited for every person.
Consider the following disadvantages of group therapy:
- Crisis – individuals who are in a crisis situation that may result in self-harm to cause harm to others are not candidates for group therapy.
- Criticism – some people do not cope well with constructive criticism and may feel personally attacked or judged, which is counterproductive for addiction recovery.
- Emotional outbursts – those who display aggression or hostility verbally or nonverbally may negatively impact group therapy for others.
- Stressors – those who experience heightened stress levels when speaking in front of others or who have difficulties with social interaction may not do well with these types of groups.
- Outside obligations – it’s important that group therapy for addiction is routine. If weekly meetings are not accommodating with a certain lifestyle or schedule, it may not be the best option.
- Personality clashes – not every person will get along, but it’s important that some level of respect is maintained by each group member. When personalities clash or become problematic, group therapy may not be the best approach for recovery.
- Trust – group therapy is designed to be confidential. If a person feels their information may be misused or shared outside of the group, it’s best to avoid these meetings.
When is Individual Therapy a Better Fit?
Much like group therapy, individual therapy seeks to address triggers to addiction. These may be situations at work, socially, within your family or community that cause the patient to turn to a substance. Individual therapy helps find constructive ways to deal with these situational stressors.
Trained therapists work with individuals to find coping mechanisms, as well as address underlying mental health issues such as:
It may be challenging for those with substance issues to continue social relationships with friends, family members, or co-workers from whom they feel pressure to resume addictive behaviors. Through individual therapy, individuals are encouraged to seek healthier relationships that will nurture sobriety and recovery.
Individual therapy is almost always beneficial in providing long-term recovery for alcohol and substance abuse disorders. Through individualized therapies, clients can receive a customized approach to dealing with addiction as well as the underlying mental health factors that may increase the likelihood of relapse.
AspenRidge Programs for Substance Abuse
AspenRidge Recovery is committed to rehab, recovery, and education. Our licensed and board-certified treatment specialists offer tailored programs that combine addiction treatment and mental health therapy. Each of our programs offers individual and group therapy options, along with other treatment methodologies such as holistic healing, skill building, and more.
Treatment programs include:
- Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
- Day Intensive Outpatient Program (Day IOP)
- Evening Intensive Outpatient Program (Evening IOP)
- Outpatient Program
- Alumni Program
- REACH Online Addiction Treatment
We are available to answer questions 24/7 at (855) 678-3144. Contact us today to learn more about our approach for long-term supportive care for addiction.