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Benefits Of Group Therapy For Addiction, Different Models & Techniques

What is Group Therapy For Addiction?

According to the scientific piece ‘Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy’, published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the natural propensity of human beings to congregate makes group therapy for addiction a powerful therapeutic tool for treating substance abuse, one that is as helpful as individual therapy, and sometimes more successful. 

One reason for this efficacy is that groups intrinsically have many rewarding benefits—such as reducing isolation and enabling members to witness the recovery of others—and these qualities draw clients into a culture of recovery. Another reason groups work so well is that they are suitable especially for treating problems that commonly accompany substance abuse, such as depression, isolation, and shame.

Although many groups can have therapeutic effects, this Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) concentrates only on groups that have trained leaders and that are designed to promote recovery from substance abuse. Great emphasis is placed on interpersonal process groups, which help clients resolve problems relating to other people, problems from which they have attempted to flee through addictive substances. 

While this TIP is not intended as a training manual for individuals training to be group therapists, it provides substance abuse counselors with insights and information that can improve their ability to manage the groups they currently lead, the NCBI continues to state.

Group Therapy For Addiction
Group therapy for addiction has several advantageous elements that equal or surpass individual therapy, such as the ability to provide support from peers to maintain recovery goals.

Benefits Of Group Therapy For Addiction

Group therapy for addiction has several advantageous elements that equal or surpass individual therapy, such as the ability to:

  • Offer members education about the recovery process
  • Provide support and motivation from peers to maintain recovery goals
  • Give members the opportunity to observe issues encountered by others in recovery and observe their methods of problem-solving
  • Empower group members by encouraging them to offer assistance and feedback to other members
  • Teach healthy coping skills to manage daily stressors without resorting to substance use
  • Boost structure and routine in the lives of group members
  • Benefits Of Group Therapy For Addiction is Build a sense of optimism, self-worth, and belief in the group members
  • Develop relationships between group members that can be used outside of sessions for support and encouragement
  • Effectively treat many individuals simultaneously with one therapist, allowing those clients quicker access to therapy
  • Utilize therapeutic tools (such as challenging irrational beliefs and confronting poor decision-making) to modify behaviors
  • Benefits Of Group Therapy For Addiction is being able to interact with other people who are learning how to cope with and overcome a drug or alcohol addiction can be quite helpful for those who are beginning the process
  • This type of setting also helps members realize that they are not alone and allows them to share information and experiences with one another, which can help boost confidence and self-esteem. Overall, sharing experiences and feelings has been shown to reduce stress, guilt, and pain among group therapy for addiction members
  • Group therapy for addiction becomes a setting in which members can learn how to avoid engaging in destructive behaviors such as actively seeking out drugs, and instead begin to practice new, healthy behaviors.

Group Therapy for Addiction and a person’s individual needs

People interested in attending a therapy group will need to be matched up with a group that suits their individual needs. Before placing a recovering individual in a group, a provider will consider the individual:

  • Treatment preferences
  • Unique needs
  • Emotional stability
  • Stage in recovery

Some people will not be a fit for group therapy for addiction based on their current status. This therapeutic method may be inappropriate for those who:

  • Refuse group therapy as a viable treatment option
  • Cannot maintain confidentiality and are at risk for breaking group rules
  • Are currently in crisis with severe, unmanageable symptoms
  • Struggle to build suitable relationships
  • Experience extreme stress around other people and new situations

Other groups, like women and adolescents, require special considerations when it comes to placement in a therapy group. Some evidence shows that women who participate in women-only groups may have better outcomes than those in groups with men. Also, there is some risk that adolescents in group therapy for addiction may actually encourage/reinforce substance use with each other. Leaders of adolescent groups must be aware of this risk and actively manage it.

Models Of Group Therapy For Addiction

If group therapy for addiction is recommended for you, there are five separate models of group sessions that you may encounter:

  • Psychoeducational groups
  • Skill development groups
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy groups
  • Support groups
  • Interpersonal process groups

With a knowledgeable and proficient treatment professional, any model can offer strong benefits; however, certain models may better fit your individual needs. Additionally, some therapy groups may take advantage of several models during the meetings, meaning that they shift from one model to another.

Group Therapy For Addiction
If group therapy for addiction is recommended for you, there are five separate models of group sessions that you may encounter.

Psychoeducational groups

The primary focus of a psychoeducational group is to offer education and information regarding general themes of substance use, mental health, related behaviors, and the consequences of these behaviors. These groups might resemble a classroom setting, as the material will be presented through audio, video, or lecture format.

Psychoeducational groups can be helpful for many situations as it teaches members:

  • To recognize the impact of substance use
  • About their condition, the barriers to recovery, and how to live a drug-free life
  • Beneficial skills like relaxation, meditation, healthy eating, and anger management

Skill development groups

In skill development groups, the group leader will have a similar position as a teacher, but here, the material provided will be more specific to the group members and their individual needs. Skill development groups will depend more on the group interacting with each other rather than only the leader speaking to them.

The group sessions will focus on a skill that contributes to the member’s ability to remain abstinent from drugs. Potential group topics include:

  • Handling triggers to engage in substance use or related behaviors
  • Positively interacting and communicating with others
  • Identifying and modifying responses to anger
  • Improving parenting skills
  • Managing financial responsibilities

Cognitive behavioral therapy groups

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a widely used evidence-based style of therapy that operates on the idea that negative behaviors are learned and reinforced over time. To change these behaviors, the individual must work to modify the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that contribute to substance use. One example of a thought that may contribute to continued substance use is “I’m a bad person; I don’t deserve to be sober.” By modifying damaging thoughts and beliefs, the individual can accomplish the changes needed to sustain recovery.

To accomplish these changes, a CBT group will:

  • Identify the members’ distorted beliefs and problematic behaviors
  • Offer relapse prevention training
  • Teach and encourage the use of new thinking and behavior patterns

Support Groups

As the name suggests, the principal focus of a support group is to offer care and understanding to all members of the group. This support will come from the group leader and from one member to the others. 

The leader will help members to improve their interpersonal skills as they engage in group discussion, share experiences, and help each other resolve their challenges. The therapist will demonstrate the desired level of communication, model respectful interaction, and provide positive reinforcement for members.

Interpersonal process groups

Interpersonal process groups attempt to promote healing in members through an understanding of psychodynamics (the way individuals function psychologically). The group leader will note and process:

Group Therapy For Addiction
As the name suggests, the principal focus of a support group is to offer care and understanding to all members of the group.
  • How each member is feeling and functioning in the group
  • How the members are interacting with each other
  • How the group is performing as a whole

A focus will be on emotional development and childhood concerns that, when left unresolved, lead to poor decision-making, impulsivity, and unhealthy coping skills. By resolving these issues, the person can improve their judgment.

With interpersonal group therapy, the content covered in each group session is secondary. Rather, the leader looks to see how the group members are behaving and interacting in the present and how their presence is being influenced by their past.

Reclaim Your life From Substance Abuse with the Benefits Of Group Therapy For Addiction

Substance abuse disorder is a condition that can cause major health, social, and economic problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up Washington center can provide you, or someone you love, deeper information about The Benefits Of Group Therapy For Addiction. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this treatment improvement protocol by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.


[1] Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2005. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 41.) 1 Groups and Substance Abuse Treatment. – National Center for Biotechnology Information (