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Group Therapy for Substance Abuse

Ask anyone in recovery, and they will say group therapy for substance abuse comprises a large part of the recovery process. They provide an opportunity to hear others speak out and address issues they experienced, which can help a person relate to their lives. It also helps to open a line of communication, addicts are usually not great at facing their feelings, much less sharing them with someone else. In a large percentage of cases it is those overwhelming feelings that resulted in their substance abuse. Group meetings are led by a counselor, often a recovered addict themselves, who might offer up discussion prompts and keep order, but is mainly there to serve as a moderator. In many cases groups are gender-specific to keep the discussions more relevant, after all, a 25-year-old single man probably will not get very much out of a group of single mothers in recovery they have nothing in common. But group therapy for substance abuse plays a large role in getting addicts to face up and own their mistakes, which is far easier to do for the first time among others who are in the same boat. 

Group Therapy for Substance Abuse

There are several triggers that are most commonly found to be the catalyst which started a person using in the first place and group meetings allow addicts to see their problems are not unique, but that many others have gone through the same things. In many instances there is usually someone in the group who has a story far worse, seeing them come face up and take responsibility can serve as fuel for others to do so as well. Some of the more commonly broached topics are their family environment, things that happened to them in their past that left either physical or emotional scars, how they dealt with it and how they are learning to do it all while staying sober. 

Family Issues

Addiction affects the entire family, and can play a large role in passing the disease from one generation to the next, children who grow up in an alcoholic household have a much greater chance of developing their own substance abuse issue. Since family is usually an addict’s last avenue for money, they often lie or even steal from their family to feed their addiction. Understanding this can help mend hard feelings and make the addict understand time is required to heal those wounds, and it is through actions the family will hopefully once again embrace and accept them back. 

Past Trauma 

Unfortunately children who grow up in homes where substance abuse has a role bear scars and frequently have trouble moving past their trauma. They turned to self-medicating to cope with their feelings and as time passed that substance abuse formed a sort of callous over those emotional scars and only by peeling back the layers and repairing the wound can an addict truly hope to free themselves from their addiction. Old trauma from childhood can affect a person for the rest of their lives or, by addressing it they can heal and grow emotionally to the point it provides strength rather than an excuse to abuse drugs or alcohol. 

The Relationship with Substances

In some cases a person starts off using drugs or drinking socially once in a while. When it begins to progress and starts to require more of something to achieve the same feeling that is tolerance and the first step towards developing a serious substance abuse habit. How has that relationship progressed, did it go from recreational to vocational? Did the use go from every weekend to every day? Has it grown to the point it is the most important relationship in their life, forsaking otters in favor of abusing drugs? 

Triggers

Often groups help a person identify their own triggers by hearing others speak about theirs and learn constructive ways of facing and dealing with them. When addicts hear tales of other addicts who tried to maintain those toxic relationships and failed, relapsing and winding up in a worse situation, they can hopefully hear and learn from others’ mistakes.

Find Common Ground

When new members come into the group, the leader will have them address the group and introduce themselves, tell the group their reason for being there. Sometimes icebreakers are used, just a simple question prompt that each person answers after introducing themselves. Eventually it will lead to a discussion of sorts when someone else relates to another. This technique is used to help the members of the group learn to communicate better with others and express themselves rather than self-medicating. 

High and Low Points of the Week

This is an opportunity for each member to share something good that happened which helps to foster a better attitude and something bad that happened which helps prove to the group that it is possible to face stress or a trigger and overcome it without turning to substance abuse. By encouraging the other members to weigh in, it helps to show addicts that things are not “all good” or “all bad,” that there is a subjective aspect to things that happen and by dealing with negative positively, it is possible to overcome adversity and maintain one’s sobriety. It is also possible to deal with a positive event negatively, like if someone got a promotion and got high or drunk to celebrate. 

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Group therapy is important for these and so many other reasons. Regardless of how badly someone suffered at their worst, there is always another person whose story is far worse. It encourages communication and gets addicts talking, often they may begin by romanticizing some aspect of their past, but the counselor will gently direct the conversation back around to the topic without the person realizing, once they do they are engaging and also learning how to express themselves, a skill they quit using when their addiction took over. If you or someone close to you is struggling with a substance abuse issue contact Casa Colina by calling (844) 974-CASA or, click Drug here to email them.

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