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Group Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Group therapy is commonly used in substance use disorder (SUD) treatment and can be an effective way to support recovery.1 This page will help you learn more about this form of therapy including the benefits of group therapy and how it is applied in an addiction treatment setting.

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What Is Group Therapy?

Group therapy in substance use treatment is a therapy modality where individuals gather with a trained therapist.1 During group therapy sessions, therapists work closely with a group who share similar health concerns, fostering a supportive environment for healing and recovery.1

How Does Group Therapy Work?

Although it varies, group therapy sessions typically occur in a private meeting space. New members are given an opportunity to introduce themselves and share their reasons for attending, while regular members may share their progress since the last meeting. The therapist guides the meeting and may encourage member dialogue or take an educational approach using various learning materials.2

There are 5 group models common in substance use disorder treatment:2

  • Psychoeducational groups: Groups that provide education about substance misuse.
  • Skills development groups: Groups focused on developing skills necessary for maintaining sobriety, like anger management or handling substance urges.
  • Cognitive-behavioral groups: Groups targeting the modification of thoughts and behaviors related to substance misuse.
  • Support groups: Support groups that offer encouragement and practical advice for maintaining a substance-free lifestyle.
  • Interpersonal process groups: Groups exploring significant developmental issues contributing to addiction or obstructing recovery.

These groups vary in size and in time commitment, with sessions typically held once or twice weekly.1 The structure can also be open, allowing new members anytime, or closed, with consistent participation until the program’s end. Sessions may be group-focused, therapist-focused, or both.1

Group therapy for addiction treatment operates on the foundational belief that individuals struggling with similar issues can effectively support and heal one another within a collaborative environment.1 The method draws from the belief that the group dynamic facilitates personal growth by providing a safe space for exploration, expression, and learning.1

Encouraging open communication, feedback, and the sharing of coping strategies within the group setting empowers individuals to confront challenges, break destructive patterns, and cultivate new, healthier behaviors.1

Goals of Group Therapy

The goals of group therapy are specific to each group. However, they share a common goal of fostering a sense of community among members which allows emotions and experiences to be shared with one another. This enhances confidence and self-esteem, while also reducing guilt, pain, and stress.2

Various groups serve different purposes and objectives within the recovery process. Some focus on stages like early recovery or relapse prevention.1 Others offer education on diverse subjects such as the repercussions of substance use disorder, family dynamics, and utilizing support networks. Certain groups concentrate on handling specific co-existing health conditions, managing psychological symptoms (e.g., anger management), and addressing mental disorders (e.g., anxiety or depression).1 Groups may also cater to specific populations based on age, gender, or involvement with the criminal justice system.

Additionally, group therapy aims to guide members in avoiding destructive behaviors, such as actively seeking drugs, while encouraging the adoption of new, healthy behaviors.2 This therapeutic approach also nurtures values like accountability, responsibility, and discipline among participants.2

Does Group Therapy Help in Addiction Treatment? 

Studies show that group therapy is an effective approach for addressing various behavioral and psychiatric disorders, with members frequently noting symptom reduction following treatment.3

Group therapy is equally effective across all treatment phases, with the involvement of clients at different stages of treatment being an important component of individual recovery.3 Comparing progress with those ahead fosters hope, while seeing others, despite greater challenges, contributing to the group, motivates and strengthens commitment to treatment.3

Group therapy in drug and alcohol rehab supports recovery throughout all substance use disorder treatment stages, including inpatient care, outpatient programs, and continued aftercare.2

During outpatient treatment, this therapy reinforces learned strategies in real-life contexts. In continued aftercare, it provides ongoing support and relapse prevention techniques by discussing challenges and successes within a supportive environment.2

Benefits of Group Therapy for Drug & Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Group therapy for addiction offers many valuable benefits for individuals in various aspects of their recovery journey. Some benefits include:2

  • Provides positive peer support and pressure to abstain from substances of misuse.
  • Reduces the sense of isolation that most people who have substance use disorders experience.
  • Enables people who misuse substances to witness the recovery of others.
  • Provides useful information to clients who are new to recovery.
  • Offers members the opportunity to learn or relearn the social skills they need to cope with everyday life.
  • Offers support and provides encouragement among members outside the group setting.
  • Allows a single treatment professional to help several clients at the same time.
  • Adds needed structure and discipline to the lives of people with substance use disorders.

Group therapy is often combined with other therapeutic methods throughout treatment, creating a comprehensive approach to healing.3 This could include conjoint therapy, combined therapy, or both.

  • Conjoint therapy: Conjoint therapy involves separate providers for individual and group treatment, offering diverse therapeutic settings that facilitate individual learning and its application within a group context.3
  • Combined therapy: In contrast, combined therapy occurs when the same provider conducts both individual and group sessions, allowing for comprehensive patient assessment and tailored coaching beneficial for both settings.3

Does Insurance Cover Group Therapy in Rehab?

The cost of substance misuse treatment is contingent on factors such as whether you opt for inpatient or outpatient care, the coverage provided by your insurance, and the specific details of your case and the program offered by each treatment center. However, some or all costs may be covered by insurance plans.

If you have insurance that covers substance misuse treatment, finding a rehab facility that accepts your insurance and provides group therapy means that this specific form of therapy should be covered as part of your comprehensive rehab program. It’s crucial to explore these details beforehand to ensure clarity on potential costs and coverage during your recovery journey.

Find Rehabs That Offer Group Therapy Near You

If you are interested in rehabs that offer group therapy, you have options. To ensure you receive the treatment you need, we encourage you to take the first step by filling out the included form for a free insurance verification or call us at . If you prefer searching on your own, our extensive directory can assist you in finding a rehab facility that aligns with your treatment needs and preferences.

Other Proven Addiction Therapy Methods

In addition to group therapy, a wide spectrum of addiction treatment methods and therapies exists, from expressive therapies to more traditional and conventional approaches, providing individuals with a range of options to tailor their recovery journey to their unique needs and preferences. They include, but are not limited to:

If you’re battling substance use disorder, seeking help is crucial. At American Addiction Centers, we’re here to support you every step of the way. Contact us today at to learn more about our services or to begin your journey towards recovery. You don’t have to face this alone.

Find an Addiction Group Therapy Program Near Me

You can contact American Addiction Centers (AAC) for free at for more information on how to find addiction group therapy or counseling near you. You can also check your insurance benefits online now or use the form below to determine whether your insurance provider will cover the cost of drug and alcohol treatment.

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