7 Group Topics for Addiction in Substance Abuse Therapy
Updated: Oct 24
Substance abuse can be an isolating and difficult disease to overcome on your own. Often, people struggling with addiction feel that they have no one to talk to who can actually understand what they are going through.
For people who are the only ones in their family that deal with substance abuse, it can be difficult to admit that you have a problem. Surrounding yourself with other people who also have their own struggles can make you feel less out of place.
This is where group therapy can come into play and really help a person through their addiction. In support groups, you are surrounded by other individuals that have similar goals to you. They want to overcome addiction, get help, and be happy in their own skin.
In group therapy, you will discuss a variety of topics and prompts to help open the group up to each other and get to the bottom of their problems. If you’ve ever been scared about sharing your addiction story, you don’t have to be in group therapy for substance abuse.
Keep reading to learn more about group therapy and what you might discuss when you become involved.
How Does Group Therapy Work?
Group therapy is a form of addiction treatment that allows people dealing with a common problem to come together and share their struggles without the fear of being judged. It’s a place where you can feel understood and seen in a community that can relate to what you’re going through.
It’s often led by a group leader or facilitator — often a therapist that specializes in substance abuse — to help guide the conversation if needed. Often, in a group setting, the patients involved lead the discussion and converse with each other, offering support, advice, and motivation to change their habits.
Group therapy is completely confidential and usually done with the same group over a specific time frame. The people in this support system want to work together to help each other overcome their addiction and live their best lives.
This space is meant to be safe and welcoming, fostering a sense of community you might otherwise feel you are missing out on.
Substance Abuse Group Therapy Topics
If you or a loved one are about to enter into group therapy, you may wonder what some of the topics you’ll discuss will be. Group therapy is often self-guided, so what you discuss with your peers may change throughout the conversation. However, you can always come into group therapy with a theme in mind to help get the conversations started.
Most of the topics that are discussed during group therapy are based on aspects of substance abuse. Examples of this may be discussing your addiction journey, the feelings you associate with substances, relationship struggles, how to properly care for yourself, and how to be successful during recovery.
Some of the following topics will likely come up during the group session, but if they haven’t yet, don’t be afraid to start the conversation!
1. Goals That You Have
One of the first things you do in group therapy for substance abuse is share your goals with everyone. Maybe you want to limit your use or want to become completely sober — whatever it is, sharing with the group can help make those goals a reality.
When you share with the group what you want from therapy, they can help you achieve your goals and hold you accountable. Your goals may also not just be about sobriety. Sharing your education and career goals helps by simply putting the idea out into the world — and you can receive honest feedback in a group treatment program.
If you want to pick up new healthy hobbies or try new activities, you should share this with the group! What’s great about group therapy is that when you do accomplish a goal, no matter how small, there is a community of people ready to celebrate alongside you. You may even find new hobbies through the group therapy activities you utilize in the group.
2. Habits You Want To Change
With substance abuse comes a lot of other struggles that you are likely facing alone. Changing your life to be healthier and happier may seem impossible alone. As you attempt to overcome addiction, you may pick up other bad habits as a way to cope. While these habits may make not using substances easier, they could still be damaging to your overall well-being.
Talking with other group members about the habits that you want to change can help with accountability, but it’s also likely that some members will share the same desire. You may realize that more people also have picked up habits they want to change and can form smaller groups to work specifically on that goal. You may also realize that your habits may not be healthy for you while listening to others share their experience.
Another common topic for group therapy is discussing your triggers. Everyone that struggles with addiction is bound to have a few things that trigger them to want to use again. Certain places, sounds, smells, and people may trigger feelings of anxiety or depression, or even a craving.
Group therapy helps you identify your triggers and learn coping strategies to help you get through them. Everyone goes through the recovery process differently, but talking with others who are actively in it can help prepare you for what lies ahead.
4. Self-Care Methods
Taking care of yourself during active substance abuse can be nearly impossible. Tending to your mental and physical health may fall off as you simply try to stay alive. When you begin your recovery journey, taking care of yourself becomes the top priority.
Practicing self-care methods like daily hygiene, eating three meals a day, going for walks, seeing family members and friends, and finding new hobbies ease the recovery process. Group therapy allows you to share with other methods that work for you and learn about what others do.
You can pick up on new self-care routines by talking with other group members, creating a long list of good habits to pick up. Building up your self-esteem and self-confidence is important in addiction recovery. You need to feel good and enjoy taking care of yourself to see success.
5. Mental Health
Keeping up with discussions about mental health is essential in group therapy. Sharing with the other members how you are holding up and what you’re doing to take care of yourself shows everyone your progress, but it also may help others who are listening. Discussing mental health can be viewed as taboo, but it’s important to do if you’re trying to recover from substance abuse.
The lack of substances in a body that has grown to rely on them can result in negative mental health effects, leading to depression, anxiety, and other struggles. Checking in on your group members can ensure that everyone is on the right path towards recovery and isn’t slipping into a relapse.
6. Conflict Resolution
When you are struggling with substance abuse, a lot of stress can be put on various relationships. You may be working on rekindling healthy relationships that became strained due to your addiction, but reaching out can be scary, and your communication skills may be lacking.
Issues may also arise during your recovery with the people around you as you begin to change and others stay the same. Talking about how to resolve these conflicts positively makes it less scary and more attainable.
When you know how to resolve conflict in a healthy way, it improves your coping skills and interpersonal skills. The anxiety that comes from trying to solve problems may not seem as bad as you learn new ways to cope, making your life a whole lot easier! Recovery groups also often role-play these hard conversations to assist in the stress management.
7. Positive Changes You’ve Made
While you often discuss the difficult parts of substance abuse in group therapy, it’s important to celebrate your successes. Discussing the positive changes that you've made in your life is not only something worth celebrating, but it can help motivate others in the process group to make positive changes in their own life.
So often, with addiction, you feel like things will never get better. When you see other people getting better and living happy and healthy lives, you are more likely to be successful in your own recovery journey.
Sometimes, group therapy is the push you need to start seeing improvements in your daily life. Plus, everyone in group therapy wants to celebrate your successes, so don’t be ashamed to uplift yourself!
Sober Sidekick Can Help
Community is everything when it comes to addiction recovery. You need to surround yourself with people that understand what you’re going through and want to see you succeed.
Not all communities need to be created in person, though, and Sober Sidekick is the perfect example of why. With Sober Sidekick, you gain access to a sober community online that is accessible at the tips of your fingers. You can chat with other sober individuals or even addiction professionals whenever necessary.
Sign-up today by downloading the app on Android or iPhone to learn more! Find groups chats to join and AA meetings to attend at any point of the day from anywhere in the country. Your sober journey can start today with the help of Sober Sidekick!