Many treatment methods have been proven to treat substance addiction successfully. These methods can be a combination of mental and physical health treatments, as substance abuse affects both the body and brain. One successful treatment involves group learning, in which one or more facilitators lead a group of clients, perhaps anywhere from five to 15 people, to discuss their sobriety journeys with one another.
This may seem intimidating on its face, but it’s a similar model that sobriety groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-Step programs use and have seen great success from. For people who are afraid of upsetting close friends and relatives or may experience a good deal of judgment for this particular struggle, it can actually be easier to share with strangers than people they actually know. In group settings like these, there is no prior reputation to uphold; it’s already a given that everyone is there for the same reason. One thing is certain: These people understand how hard it is. They understand at a personal level that few others can.
Many group sessions are organized around an issue that is common to group members, regardless of age, sex, background, etc. These topics can range from dealing with stress or loneliness in healthy ways to building self-confidence and developing a sense of self-awareness and humility. The support that is built in group learning is different than what you would experience when meeting with a therapist one-on-one (though that is also helpful for many people).
There are many causes of addiction; scientists believe it’s a combination of environmental factors and genetics. Whatever it was for you, there is likely another person (or two, or three, or more) in a group whose addiction has similar roots. Knowing you aren’t the only person to experience trauma, depression, grief, or family members who also use drugs or alcohol can help make it easier to open up about your own struggle. You may not feel comfortable speaking up at first, but you never know what you might say that makes another group member feel seen and less alone.
Additional benefits of group learning include:
People need communal support to thrive, with or without an addiction problem. But in the process of recovery, it’s essential. It can be hard to find that particular support in one’s own family or friend group, but a group learning environment at a treatment center is full of people working towards the same goal. Having a support network can also show you how to effectively communicate your needs and learn to ask for help when you need it. The fear of asking for help often keeps addiction hidden and enables it to thrive. But asking for help can break the spell of secrecy and shame.
Group therapy probably isn’t the first place one would think to go to make new friends, but it happens. People who have been through the same depths can often bond for life. When you have a solid connection to others, you also develop a strong connection to yourself by recognizing your own strengths. Connecting to others in group learning can help provide a greater sense of purpose after you leave the recovery program and start a new sober life.
This is arguably one of the hardest parts of group learning activities and therapies, especially for introverted personalities. But seeking help for addiction is already a hard, uncomfortable process. This is a place where it’s safe and encouraged to take emotional risks. Communicating your struggles with a group can make it less intimidating to advocate for yourself outside of the group – that is, asking for help or support when you need it. Communicating fears, traumas, and other emotional stressors can become easier with time and deepen your relationships with others going through similar things.
However, while there is a lot of overlap in experiences in group settings, no two people are exactly alike. Exposure to different perspectives and stories is part of how we grow into more well-rounded, compassionate people.
Part of rewiring a brain that’s been damaged by long-term substance use involves learning new cognitive and behavioral skills. This can look like replacing unhealthy behavior patterns with healthier ones and learning better coping mechanisms. One benefit of learning these skills in a group setting is that it allows you to practice them with others. Interacting with others can help inspire new ways of thinking and interacting with the world around you.
Group settings can also allow for feedback, both to you and to others. When your self-image is distorted, learning new skills in a group can increase self-awareness. It is essential to improve how we live and interact with others before reinitiating ourselves into the world outside the treatment facility.
At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a variety of group learning activities to help our clients heal and cope. Some groups are gender-specific, while others are co-ed to enhance learning from those who differ from us. We also offer nutrition groups, family therapy, and more.
Many people might feel strange about doing group learning activities while in recovery simply because addiction is such a personal thing. However, you may find (as many of our clients have) that group learning allows everyone to learn from and encourage one another. At Enlightened Solutions, we firmly believe that it takes a community and a strong support network to fully recover from substance addiction. This community not only encourages you during challenges to sobriety but can also help hold you accountable and remind you why you are pursuing sobriety in the first place. To learn more about the treatment programs we offer, contact Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE.
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