Addiction is an isolating disease. The deeper you fall into chemical dependency, the more you retreat from others. Instead of spending time with family members or good friends, you’ll seek out new acquaintances who share your addictive behavior. Eventually, you will abandon this crowd as well. After all, there’s no reason to share your drugs or alcohol with others. You don’t need friends, anyway — the drug has become the center of your life.
Is there any cure for the self-isolation and loneliness of addiction? One answer is group outpatient rehab. The peers you meet at an intensive outpatient treatment program can provide emotional support, recovery tips and information about how to live a sober life. For many recovering addicts, the friends they make in rehab remain with them from the early stages of detox through aftercare and beyond.
What Is Group-Oriented Outpatient Therapy?
Outpatient addiction treatment is provided on a day-patient basis. Unlike residential rehab, where you stay overnight at a treatment facility, you attend groups and classes during the day, then return to your home or a sober living facility at night. At a group-oriented program, peer support sessions are the key to your success. You’ll attend informational meetings and counseling sessions with other recovering addicts who share your fears and hopes for the future.
The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment has identified five models for group therapy in addiction treatment, each with its own goals:
- Educational groups: rehab clients learn about addiction and recovery
- Life skills groups: day-to-day activities like budgeting and parenting are discussed
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy groups: participants work together to change the destructive thought patterns associated with addiction
- Support groups: peers share encouragement, motivation and hope
- Process groups: recovering addicts learn new coping skills and discuss the challenges of life in sobriety
When you enter an outpatient rehab program, you will take part in two basic types of groups. Specialty groups cover a broad range of topics, from practical life skills classes to relapse prevention, stress management and mental health concerns. Your loved ones will be encouraged to participate in family group sessions and family systems training. Holistic rehab programs offer specialized holistic groups that focus on meditation, yoga, hypnotherapy or experiential therapy.
Process groups are mediated by mental health professionals who are trained in helping recovering addicts learn how to handle the stresses of life. This is where the cognitive work of recovery takes place — at intensive sessions where peers work through the challenges of recovery in a safe, supportive environment.
Why Is Group Therapy So Important?
Group therapy is recognized as one of the most important components of addiction treatment. Numerous studies have confirmed that addicts who participated actively in peer support groups or 12-Step meetings had longer periods of sustained sobriety and fewer drug-related problems after rehab.
In just one example, the Archives of General Psychiatry published the results of a controlled study of 299 recovering cocaine users who suffered from co-occurring depression and addiction. In their group sessions, participants received treatment for both drug abuse and mental illness. At the end of 16 group sessions, the majority of participants showed improvement in depressive symptoms and had fewer days of substance abuse.
The intensive outpatient treatment program at The Oaks at La Paloma places a high priority on the importance of group therapy. Our integrated approach to addiction treatment is specialized to fulfill the needs of clients with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders. Our compassionate team of admissions coordinators understand how hard it is to reach out for help. Call us to find out how we can help you find hope and healing in recovery.
By Krystan Anderson, LPC-MHSP
Director, The Oaks at Foundation Memphis