When a person enters a recovery program for substance abuse, multiple forms of therapy are used. Most programs offer a combination of individual and group therapies. Group therapy has a reputation as a therapy method that is silly and ineffective, but the opposite is actually true. According to a 2002 study published by Haworth Medical Press, as well as numerous other studies, group therapy is a highly effective treatment method for substance abuse. Some studies even suggest that group therapy is equally as effective as individual therapy.
How can a session where multiple people work on their problems be as effective as individual treatment? There are actually a variety of reasons why group therapy is so effective. For any addict, going through group therapy can be extremely helpful, for the following reasons.
Long Term Support Systems
The relationships that people make in group therapy can last beyond the time they spend together. Group members often bond and form lifelong friendships. These friendships can be transformed into support that continues throughout the life of each person. It is extremely helpful to have someone in the same place act as a support for a similar issue. Building friendships from group therapy members is an extreme form of “walk a mile in the other person’s shoes.”
A Safe Haven for Learning and Sharing
Most therapy sessions are run by a group leader or facilitator. The leader will focus the conversation to appropriate topics, but generally, it is the members of the group who will speak together and learn from each other.
The leader will also act as a model for appropriate behaviors and keep the discussion constructive and encouraging for everyone in the group. The leader is there to encourage all members of the group to share equally. If group members disagree, the leader can act as a mediator that guides the discussion through respectful channels. This can be more helpful than individual therapy because the group members have a chance to see other’s struggles and ideas, which can help them use these ideas in their own lives. Positive peer pressure is a powerful factor in any recovery program.
Reduces Feelings of Loneliness
In individual therapy, it is easy for an addict to see himself as all alone. In rehab, many individuals feel isolated and may feel like they are the only one suffering. In a group setting, the addicts can see that others are in a similar place, which creates a sense of community and common understanding between each person. A group of addicts can discuss different coping mechanisms and learn from each other, which can lead to a stronger sense of will power over cravings and other forms of temptation.
Group Therapy Maximizes Care
Individual therapy can only help one addict at a time. In group therapy, one professional can work with up to 12 different addicts at once. This allows the therapist to help the maximum number of people at one time. In group therapy, all members of the group and the therapist can work together to achieve group recovery that benefits more people in one setting. This is not only beneficial for the recovering addicts, but it is also cost-effective for the rehab centers and allows them to help more people over the course of each rehab session.
For many drug addicts, group therapy is one of the most effective forms of long term recovery. Because of how many people it can help at once, the support structure that the members of the group create, and the sense of community that the therapy sessions provide to the addicts, group therapy is a must for drug addicts who are serious about maintaining permanent recovery from drug addiction.