Group Therapy for Substance Abuse

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Therapy is a key component of not just addiction treatment but mental health treatment as well. Most addiction treatment programs involve some form of therapy. Individual therapy and group therapy for substance abuse have been effective in providing people with the support they need during recovery.

Each type of therapy serves a unique, and important purpose when it comes to addiction and mental health treatment. While individual therapy allows for a more intimate setting to peel back the proverbial layers and get to the bottom of the underlying issues that led to a person’s addiction, group therapy provides a support system that many in addiction treatment need.

At Relief Recovery Center in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, we offer group therapy as part of all of our treatment programs including:

  • Partial Hospitalization
  • Intensive Outpatient Treatment
  • Outpatient Treatment

Group therapy is a therapy session that is held in a group setting. Group therapy sessions are often led by a trained therapist or treatment professional.

Group therapy has been used as a tool in addiction and mental health treatment since the early to mid-20th century. As soldiers returned home from World War II, many needed mental health treatment, addiction treatment, or even both. Since there was such an overwhelming need for treatment and therapy all at the same time, treatment professionals decided to experiment by conducting therapy sessions with multiple soldiers in a group setting.

As more and more treatment professionals began incorporating group therapy into their treatment methods, it continued gaining traction to the point where it is today.

Over the years, group therapy has proven to be effective in treating more than just substance abuse and mental health conditions. One particular study showed that women who suffered from metastatic breast cancer and attended group therapy lived up to 18 months longer than those women who did not attend group therapy.

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Contact Relief Recovery Center for a consultation and begin your journey to recovery. When making a call to Relief Recovery Center you will be greeted by one of our care coordinators who will guide you through a quick and easy process to start you on your path of recovery!

How Does Group Therapy Work?

Just like individual therapy, group therapy sessions are designed to address struggles with addiction and mental health. Where individual therapy sessions are conducted in 1-on-1 settings, group therapy sessions are held in a group setting.

A major component of addiction recovery, particularly in the early stages of recovery, is building a support system. Whether intentional or unintentional, many who enter into addiction recovery find themselves alone. Their friends and family may have chosen to separate themselves from the person, or the person may have isolated themselves as a consequence of their addiction.

Group therapy allows those in treatment to share some of the struggles that are unique to them in a supportive environment and surrounded by others who can truly understand what they are going through.

While it is nice to have friends, family members, and loved ones there for support, the bonds made in group therapy are unique since everyone in group therapy is there as a way to recover from their addiction and mental health struggles.

Some examples of group therapy include:

  • Support groups (AA, NA, SMART Recovery, etc)
  • Psychoeducational groups
  • Skills-Development groups
  • Interpersonal process groups
  • Group Psychotherapy

Benefits of Group Therapy

Building a healthy support system is just one of the many benefits of group therapy. Below are some additional benefits of attending group therapy sessions both during and after addiction treatment:


In addition to creating bonds and building a support system with those in your group therapy sessions, your fellow group therapy participants can also help hold you and keep you accountable for your actions in recovery. Accountability is a key component to not just treatment but your lifelong recovery journey.


Communication is one of, if not the most important aspect of group therapy. Many issues associated with addiction and substance abuse can be solved simply by just talking about them. Communicating in a group setting not only benefits the one doing the talking, but it can also benefit those who are listening. Since everyone there is either currently suffering or has previously suffered from addiction, chances are the person speaking is dealing with similar circumstances, problems, and consequences as the people who are listening.

Witnessing Recovery First Hand

Attending group meetings can serve as an inspiration as well as remind you that getting clean and sober is possible. Sitting in a group meeting and hearing from those who went through something similar, if not the same as you, and seeing that they got their life together and are on track can be just the motivation you need to give it a try yourself.

What Can Group Therapy Help With?

Group therapy can help treat a wide variety of mental, physical, emotional, and behavioral issues such as:

  • Substance Use Disorder (SUD)
  • Behavioral Addictions (sex addiction, gambling addiction, etc)
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Family members who may be battling addiction (Alanon)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Eating Disorders
  • Anger
  • Other mental health disorders

What To Expect During Group Therapy?

What you can expect from group therapy will vary based on the type of group therapy session you attend. Different types of group therapy sessions with have different sizes, structures, and lengths.

More traditional group therapy sessions tend to be smaller, often having no more than 16 people in a session. Psychoeducational groups, on the other hand, can be much larger with as many as 24 people participating in a given session.

Group therapy sessions can last anywhere from 1-2 hours and the room may be set up with all chairs forming a circle or with chairs in rows facing the front of the room.

In a smaller group therapy session where the chairs are in a circle, the meeting may open with the therapist or counselor running the session introducing themselves, and then allowing everyone in the circle to go around and have a chance to speak. From there, the person leading the meeting will get into the topic of the day. The topic may already be preplanned by the person leading the meeting or they may choose to expand on something one of the people participating brought up during meeting introductions.

Some meetings will rely heavily on group member participation while other sessions will be more educational.

Does Group Therapy Work?

As is the case with the addiction treatment process as a whole, therapy is only as effective as you allow it to be. Nobody can force you to go to treatment, just like nobody can force you to go to therapy. For any kind of therapy, including group therapy, to be effective, you have to want to be there.

A major factor in the overall success of group therapy is your willingness to be an active participant in group sessions. While several types of group therapy meetings don’t require active participation, being an active participant, as well as both giving and receiving advice can help make these sessions more effective. Everyone who is in your group therapy sessions is there not just to help themselves, but also to provide help and support to the others in the meeting.

It is also important to remember that therapy is not a cure for any condition, including substance abuse and addiction. What therapy can, and does do though is it can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms when you find yourself in situations where you might have an urge or craving to use and abuse substances again as well as provide a support system for when you need it.

Is Group Therapy Covered by Insurance?

Group therapy is often covered by most major private healthcare providers as part of their mental health and addiction coverage. In some cases, you may also be able to continue to receive group therapy coverage even after treatment has ended as part of an aftercare program. The amount of group therapy coverage you receive usually depends on your insurance provider and the type of plan you have.

If you have any questions about your insurance plan as it pertains to group therapy, you can reach out to your insurance representative or you can contact us directly. We will look over your policy and let you know what is and isn’t covered before you start treatment.

Seek Group Therapy for Substance Abuse at Relief Recovery Center

If you or a loved one need addiction or mental health treatment of any kind, including group therapy, it is important to remember that there is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. Seeking treatment to make yourself a healthier and happier person is commendable.

At Relief Recovery Center, we understand the importance that group therapy has to the overall treatment process. That’s why we utilize group therapy with all of our treatment programs including:

For more information about our treatment programs and to learn how we can help you get on the road to recovery, contact us today.