How Group Therapy Supports Recovery and Long-Term Sobriety

by | Jun 29, 2023

Overcoming substance abuse can be an overwhelming and oftentimes difficult journey. Different points in the recovery process can feel like an uphill battle, and intense emotions and debilitating physical cravings can surface. As a recovering individual navigates sobriety, it is critical for them to establish systems of support they can lean on. From professional assistance to community support, there are many options to explore when cultivating a trusted support network, including group therapy.

Our team at Zia Recovery Center understands the obstacles of addiction, as many of our team members are in recovery themselves. Through this experience, we know firsthand how important it is to recognize this journey does not need to happen in isolation. Recovery centers provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to heal and cultivate the skills necessary to maintain sobriety, as well as provide the proper resources and tools needed for the recovery journey.

With this in mind, we highly encourage individuals to take advantage of opportunities to engage with others in a group therapy setting. In this article, we will explore group therapy and how it can help maintain long-term sobriety by providing individuals an extra layer of community support.

Group Therapy: What Is It?

Group therapy, specifically within the recovery setting, is a form of therapy that involves a group of individuals that come together to learn about recovery strategies, work on communication skills, and cultivate social support systems. Led by a professional therapist, groups typically meet regularly to discuss their experiences, obstacles, and successes as it relates to addiction recovery.
In group therapy, individuals have the opportunity to share their own stories, offer encouragement and support to one another, and work together to overcome the challenges that inevitably arise when striving to maintain sobriety. In contrast to individual therapy, a group setting provides a safe and supportive environment where individuals can discuss their struggles and receive feedback and guidance from peers who are going through a similar experience.

For individuals seeking long-term sobriety, group therapy can be a valuable tool. Not only does it provide a protected space for individuals to share their experiences and learn from each other, it also offers a unique opportunity for practicing interpersonal skills and building community. Group therapy sessions can be particularly beneficial for individuals who are recovering from substance abuse, given that they offer a range of tools that can support individuals to regulate their emotions, cultivate relapse awareness, and learn coping skills.

Benefits of Group Therapy

Group therapy has many benefits, from social support to learning new tools and practices that can have positive implications for recovery. Keep reading to explore some of the key benefits and why group therapy might be supportive for you or your loved one struggling with substance abuse disorder.

1. Support system and accountability

There is no doubt that substance abuse recovery can stir up feelings of isolation and loneliness. When individuals engage in group therapy, they can transcend their feelings of isolation through having meaningful conversations and developing relationships with folks who are going through similar challenges. Individuals can receive feedback and support from others, and help one another stay on track toward recovery goals through sharing coping strategies, techniques for dealing with triggers, and other tools for maintaining sobriety.

Additionally, group settings can be a powerful catalyst for implementing accountability measures while creating a sense of connection. One of the most impactful aspects of group therapy is the opportunity for individuals to share their experiences and learn from how others apply recovery strategies to their lives.

2. Emotional regulation tools

Group therapy can be an effective approach to learn and practice emotional regulation tools. Emotional regulation tools refer to strategies individuals can practice to manage and regulate emotional responses throughout the recovery process. This is an especially important skill to develop during the recovery process, as individuals abstaining from drug or alcohol use often need to develop new strategies for managing their emotions.

Some productive tools shared in group therapy may include mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), relaxation techniques, self-care practices, and social support. As individuals begin to learn about these different techniques, group therapy can serve as a space where they can share what is working and what isn’t. Members can both seek and give advice, while holding space for the challenges or resistance that can surface within themselves and others.

3. Relapse prevention and awareness

Preventing relapse and cultivating relapse awareness is an absolutely crucial component of maintaining sobriety. Relapse is when an individual returns to using drugs or alcohol after a period of abstinence, and relapse awareness involves recognizing the warning signs of relapse and taking action to prevent it.

In group therapy, members learn to identify triggers and warning signs of relapse. Whether an individual has been sober for a week or ten years, different environments and social situations can aggravate the addictive tendencies and trigger a desire for relapse. Group therapy can support in identifying these triggers and develop coping skills to deal with them. In contrast to one-on-one therapy, individuals can provide support and encouragement to help each other avoid relapse and stay on track toward long-term sobriety.

4. Building social skills

Substance abuse can often lead to social isolation, damaged relationships, and a deterioration of communication skills and confidence. Moreover, building healthy connections becomes a vital component to substance abuse recovery.

When individuals engage in group therapy, it can help them develop social skills and build healthy relationships with others who are also in pursuit of long-term sobriety. Since group therapy encourages a safe and supportive environment to explore their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, it is common for individuals to experience an increase in self-awareness. These skills developed within the group can then be transferred to other social situations that extend beyond recovery centers.

At Zia Recovery Center, group therapy is an essential component of our Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), our Residential Ambulatory Withdrawal Management Program, and our Outpatient (OP) and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) programs. We have found that group therapy is vital for each of these recovery programs, as it provides individuals with opportunities to discuss their concerns and fears about relapse in a safe environment. Our clients are also able to receive support from others, and learn to identify and regulate their emotions through engaging in a range of activities and discussions designed to support their recovery.

Our highly experienced team is here to support each and every client on their unique recovery journey, and are proud to offer a variety of resources designed with them in mind. To learn more, please contact us today and explore how our recovery programs can support you or your loved one.

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