Group therapy is an essential part of the recovery process. Recovery groups provide what all human beings need—and what chemically dependent people need more than anyone: recognition by others of their humanness, affirmation of their value as human beings, and validation of their feelings. In a group setting, people are able to share more openly amongst those who are going through similar situations and emotions. The standard group therapy approach is to build trust and a level of relatability between group members. Setting an overall goal of recovery will help members stay motivated through each other’s efforts to understand and accomplish milestones of that common goal.
Actor Tony Curtis was quoted in Newsweek as having his own fond vision of the future of recovering chemically dependents: I see instead of having bars every few blocks, we should have little therapy centers where you can pull your car over and have a chance to talk to somebody.
In fact, that’s what intensive outpatient (IOP) programs, aftercare groups and self-help meetings do. When you’re on vacation, or if you’re alone in a strange place, your guard may be down. Don’t wait for temptation to turn into relapse. Remember that your counselor or sponsor is always available for telephone support. Also, you can find a meeting anywhere in the world.
So before leaving on your trip, search Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and find out exactly when and where there is a meeting in destinations as diverse as Paris, Stockholm, Pagopago, Alaska, and Hawaii.
Unlike most people, members of self-help groups can move into a new town and within hours have the beginnings of dozens of close friendships. University of Michigan psychiatrist, Dr. Randolph Neese, called recovery groups a friendly, small-town universe, instead of the drug-ridden combat area millions of Americans inhabit. Maybe people in these groups are in fact re-creating a more natural and normal environment for themselves, and literally providing something missing from modern life, just at the point in society when both the extended family and the nuclear family are breaking down.
Group Therapy: Recovery Groups
For members of any program of recovery, there are recovery groups available for members to meet and discuss topics and personal details in an open format. Recovery groups are often referred to as support groups, meetings, 12-step meetings, etc. Recovery groups offer a great deal to the recovering chemically dependent. First, and on the most primitive level, they give you a place to go and something to do during those hours when you used to be drinking or taking drugs—hours that are now empty because you haven’t yet built a new life that will give you something to fill them. Meetings keep you away from temptations at the most dangerous hours.
Second, if you have been in rehabilitation they offer a substitute “safe house” for at least part of the day, to help you through the transition from total security to being completely on your own. Many recovering people find an effective plan is to work during the day and attend recovery meetings in the evening.
Third, they are the best place to learn the techniques to stay clean and change your life. They give you something to look forward to.
Lastly, and most important of all, they are where you will find encouragement, hope, support, and unlimited opportunities for making new friends who understand you, can identify with your problems and pain, care about you, and be there when you need them—which is probably a great deal more than you can say about any “friend” you’ve ever had before.
A recovering thirty-five-year-old physician summarized it adequately:
“I suppose that just as my addiction to drugs and alcohol persisted out of attempts to feel better, my attendance at recovery meetings do indeed make one feel better. Unlike drugs and alcohol, the good feelings produced within meetings are genuine. They come from within. It has been some time since my last use of drugs and alcohol, yet my attending meetings is at a greater frequency than it was early on in my addiction. The fellowship has so much more to offer me than merely stopping my active addiction. Meetings help me to achieve spiritual growth. Early in my addiction, I did not want to recover. I simply wanted to get the Medical Society off my back.With further attendance, I came to be envious of the quality of life I saw exhibited by those members in recovery. Eventually I wanted what they had, I have been given the biggest gift of all—the freedom to be myself and to like and respect myself.”
Group therapy helps to close the gap between individuals of differing circumstances, suffering from the same affliction. One of the most important lessons that group therapy teaches us is that we are not alone. If you are looking for support or group therapy sessions in your area, please reach out to us.
If you or a loved one wants to learn more about our substance abuse programs, please reach out to us today. Our admissions team is available 24/7 at (877)-RECOVERY or 877-732-6837 to answer your questions.