Group Therapy

Group therapy for addiction treatment

How Group Therapy Can Help You Overcome Addiction

For people who suffer from addiction to drugs and alcohol, there are several different types of therapy with one common goal in mind: sobriety.  Every therapy style differs from one another and each has its pros and cons. Some of these therapy options include:

  • Group therapy 
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy 

What is Group Therapy?

Group therapy involves group counseling sessions with other patients and licensed professionals who can help you overcome addiction struggles. The idea behind group therapy is to create a community of people who can support and encourage one another through shared experiences.

Group therapy can be beneficial for anyone whether you have a strong family support system, or are feeling alone in your struggle. 

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy is a form of therapy that is spent one on one with a psychotherapist. Individual therapy is useful for a set of personalized sessions that focus on the individual for an allotted amount of time on a weekly basis. It is recommended that the individual should meet with their therapist for a minimum of three months. 

Family Therapy

Family therapy is a type of therapy that families will attend together. Addiction can affect the quality of life for everyone in the family, which can cause tension between family members. According to The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, drug and alcohol addictions are considered to be an issue for the whole family. 

It can be beneficial to go through family therapy together in order to address all issues. Most family members aren’t sure how best to help their loved one. This type of counseling can each person involved voice their concerns and get clarity on how best to support one another. 

What to Expect From Group Therapy

Group therapy is a great opportunity to learn and understand your triggers. Since the others in the group will also be going through a similar recovery process you can each discuss your own struggles and how you are working to overcome them. 

During this phase, it is possible that you will also be given medications to help reduce withdrawal symptoms. This could include medications such as benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and clonidine.

There are a few different kinds of groups within group therapy. The type you should join should depend on what you feel is most fitting for you personally. Within-group therapy, there are open groups and closed groups. 

Open Groups

Open groups are more readily available to join without much of a waiting period. The downside to them is that since people are in and out of the group at different time periods, there may be an adjustment period in forming connections with those in the group with you. 

Closed Groups

Closed group therapy sessions can take several months to get into since you will first be put on a waiting list to get into them. Closed groups can be beneficial because the people who are in the group will likely be starting the group at the same time as you. It can be a little bit easier to form those meaningful connections within group therapy that are essential for moving past your addictions. 

When deciding what group is best for you to join, there are several other factors to consider. Do you prefer to have a larger or smaller audience? In a smaller group, you may be able to get more one on one help, whereas a large group may focus more on the group as a whole. However, if you are in a larger group, there’s likely to be more diversity and wide-ranging topics. 

What Kind of Addictions Does Group Therapy Help Treat? 

Most group therapy sessions will accept patients struggling with any kind of addiction. Addiction is a very broad term, considering there are several different kinds of substances individuals may be addicted to. Some of these addictions are inclusive of:

  • Alcohol addictions
  • Opioid addictions
  • Benzodiazepine addictions
  • Cannabinoid addictions
  • Barbiturate addictions

Benefits of the Group Therapy Approach

You know you have others to count on in your times of need, and seeing people come far in their rehabilitation journeys can inspire you in your own journey. Spending large amounts of time in your group can be a truly inspiring experience. You will get to see individuals you have shared with, overcome the same struggles. It becomes more evident that recovery is possible. You realize that it can be done and that there is hope for you.  

Overview of the History of Addiction Therapy

The earliest form of addiction treatment dates back to Native American tribes. In the early 1750s, they would form sobriety circles, using native healing practices to help with alcohol addictions.  

In 1864, New York State Inebriate Asylum, the first addiction treatment center in the United States opened. Toward the late 1800s, there were a plethora of foreclosures on addiction treatment centers due to causes such as unethical practice and economic depressions. 

The 1900s were spent researching addiction, re-establishing a plethora of addiction treatment centers, and establishing the passage of laws for addiction treatment centers. 

During the time, some unethical procedures were still in practice, however, they were not as prominent as in the 1800s. The Emmanuel Movement, which was a form of addiction psychotherapy that had religious foundations, was formed in the early 1900s. 

Multiple morphine clinics, as well as narcotics farms, were opened during this time. The opening of Charles B. Towns Hospital and Alcoholics Anonymous were just a few of the addiction treatment centers that opened in the 1900s. 

Throughout history, people have struggled with the concept of addiction. Addiction treatment has changed significantly over the course of time. Society has battled with what is morally and ethically correct, and what is morally and ethically incorrect. While this is true, this has helped to pave the road for what modern American society knows today as addiction treatment. 

Underlying Causes of Addiction 

Many individuals suffer from a wide variety of mental illnesses as well as personal issues. It is also not uncommon that they may not even realize they are dealing with a mental illness. In many cases, someone who is struggling with addiction may have been self-medicating that mental illness and therefore that is how they developed the addiction. The underlying causes may vary from person to person, and there is a wide variety of co-occurring conditions that may cause addiction. Some of these mental illnesses may be inclusive of: 

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Eating disorders 
  • Personality disorders
  • Depression
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Anxiety Disorders 

Anxiety disorders are mental disorders that can make you feel overly nervous about life issues. There are several different types of anxiety disorders, such as Panic Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder, and Social Anxiety Disorder.

Eating Disorders 

An eating disorder is an emotional instability tied to obsession overweight or body figure. Eating disorders are most common in young people, however, they are a problem that anyone can face. Some of the most prevalent eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. 

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are disorders that can cause an individual to differ from societal and cultural norms. Personality disorders can cause an individual to feel like they will never fit in in this world because of how different they are. Some of the most common personality disorders include paranoid personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder.

Depression 

Clinical depression is inclusive of a continual feeling of unhappiness or discontent usually accompanied by loss of interest in personal activities or life events such as work and school. Some symptoms of clinical depression include changes in sleeping patterns/habits, low energy levels, low self-esteem, and suicidal thoughts.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress order, also known as PTSD, is a disorder that primarily deals with trauma stemming from past events. Symptoms of PTSD may be inclusive of isolation from others, flashbacks, nightmares, trouble sleeping, and irritability. 

Co-Occurring Conditions (Dual Diagnosis) 

During the group therapy experience, a therapist will help you in overcoming both your addiction struggles and any underlying mental illnesses you may be struggling with. This concept is commonly referred to as dual diagnosis. Your therapist is there to help with any issues at all that you may be facing, so you should never feel like your problems are too big to be solved or like you are alone in your battles.

Sana Lake Can Help!

Here at Sana Lake Recovery Center, our addiction specialists are here to help those suffering from addiction. To learn more about how group therapy can help you, contact us today!

Article Reviewed by David Sherman, MD

David Sherman, MDDavid Sherman, MD is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (FASAM) and board certified in Addiction Medicine with the American Board of Preventive Medicine. He is a native Missourian and graduated medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine. Dr. Sherman completed a two-year fellowship in Addiction Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He leads a highly trained staff of master level certified addiction professionals. Men and women from all over Missouri and the United States come to Sana Lake Recovery Center to get the care they need and deserve.