Group Therapy in Addiction: How Can it Help?

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If you are new to addiction, you may be unsure about the different forms of therapy you will encounter at rehab. Group therapy in addiction treatment can be instrumental to a successful sobriety, with many different kinds of therapy treatment available.

In addition to spending time working one-to-one with a therapist or counselor, you will also engage in group therapy for drug addiction or alcoholism. Substance abuse group counseling may lack the personalized focus of individual therapy, but it can be a rewarding and effective therapeutic experience.

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Discover what to expect from group therapy substance abuse and learn about the different types of substance abuse group therapy you are likely to encounter at inpatient or outpatient rehab.

What is Group Therapy in Addiction Treatment?

Group therapy for addiction is a form of therapy that involves a small group of individuals who are struggling with addiction and are seeking treatment. The group is facilitated by a trained therapist who guides the group through exercises and discussions aimed at helping members overcome their addictions.

Group therapy for addiction can take many forms – we outline these below – but it typically involves members sharing their experiences with addiction, discussing their feelings and emotions, and receiving support and feedback from both the therapist and other group members.

The group dynamic may help those battling addictions to feel less isolated, while at the same providing a sense of community, which can be beneficial for maintaining long-term recovery.

What to Expect at Group Therapy for Addiction Treatment

Group therapy sessions may be delivered in many therapeutic settings, including:

  • Hospital-based residential treatment
  • Inpatient treatment (residential rehab)
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Virtual treatment

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) reports that group therapy may be equally as effective as individual therapy for individuals who are committed to engaging with treatment and discontinuing substance use.

Group therapy at rehab is distinct from family therapy, a modality that allows you to involve your family members in your recovery. Members of group therapy sessions at rehab do not have pre-existing relationships with other group members. Instead, participants are peers who are addressing similar substance abuse or mental health issues at rehab.

Trained therapists deliver substance abuse group therapy sessions. In peer-support groups like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), on the other hand, sessions are guided by group members rather than experienced, credentialed therapists.

Group sizes at rehab vary from 10 to 20 people who meet with the same therapist each session to help build trust within the group. Most inpatient group therapy sessions run for 30 days or more in residential rehab. Outpatient group therapy sessions may continue for three months.

image representing group therapy

Types of Group Therapy

There are many different types of group therapy. The most common models indicated for the treatment of drug addictions and alcoholism are:

  • Skills development groups
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy groups
  • Psychoeducational groups

Skills development groups

Skills development group sessions for addiction treatment involve participants interacting with one other as the group leader directs sessions. Topics for discussion may include:

  • Managing triggers for substance use
  • Improving communication skills
  • Identifying and altering emotional responses
  • Strengthening parenting skills
  • Becoming more financially literate

Cognitive behavioral therapy groups

CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is a form of talk therapy or psychotherapy that is proven effective for the treatment of addictions and mental health conditions.

Group CBT sessions at drug or alcohol rehab consist of a therapist guiding group members and helping them to achieve behavioral change using the following methods:

  1. Identifying unhealthy behaviors and flawed patterns of thinking
  2. Creating and implementing healthy patterns of thinking and behaving
  3. Exploring relapse prevention and management techniques

Psychoeducational groups

The primary focus of psychoeducational groups for addiction treatment is to impart information on substance abuse and mental health disorders, as well as the adverse outcomes associated with those behaviors.

Through this form of group therapy, you can learn more about the effects of substance abuse, and you can discover how to thrive in your sobriety rather than merely survive.

Family Therapy

Family therapy for addiction typically involves the entire family participating in therapy sessions to address the impact of addiction on the family unit. Here are some of the key things that might unfold during family therapy for addiction:

  • Education about addiction: Family members may receive education about the nature of addiction, the effects it has on those abusing substances and their families, and the different treatment options available.
  • Communication skills training: Family therapy often involves learning and practicing effective communication skills to improve relationships and reduce conflict as you move from active addiction into ongoing recovery.
  • Setting boundaries: Family members may be encouraged to set healthy boundaries with the family member grappling with addiction to insulate themselves from the negative consequences of addiction.
  • Identifying and addressing enabling behaviors: Family therapy can help identify enabling behaviors – providing financial support or covering up for the family member with an addiction, for instance – and work to reduce or eliminate these behaviors.
  • Addressing family dynamics: Family therapy may involve exploring and addressing underlying family dynamics that have contributed to the development or maintenance of a family member’s addiction.
  • Support for recovery: Family members can learn how to support their loved one’s recovery process, and the family as a whole can receive support and guidance in coping with the challenges of addiction and recovery.

The goals of family therapy for addiction include improving communication, reducing conflict, strengthening relationships, and supporting the recovery process of the addicted family member.

Finding Group Therapy for Addiction

There are several ways to find group therapy for addiction:

  • Consult your healthcare provider: A healthcare provider like a doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist may be able to refer you to group therapy for addiction in your area.
  • Contact your insurance company: Check with your insurance company to see if your health plan covers the cost of group therapy for addiction and determine whether the insurer has a list of providers they recommend.
  • Search online: You can search online for local addiction treatment centers and you may also find that support groups offer group therapy for addiction, even if these sessions are not led by qualified therapists.
  • Contact a helpline: National helplines like the SAMHSA National Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) can provide information and referrals to local addiction treatment programs that incorporate group therapy in evidence-based treatment programs.
  • Ask for recommendations: Over 46 million U.S. adults had diagnosable addictions in 2021. With addiction so widespread in the United States, friends, family members, or colleagues may be able to recommend group therapy programs for addiction in your area. They may have personal experience or know someone who has received treatment.

When considering group therapy for addiction, it’s essential to choose a program that meets your specific needs and preferences. Consider factors like location, schedule, cost, and the type of group therapy offered. You may want to attend a few different groups to find one that feels like a good fit for you.

an image of Laguna beach, where California Detox is located and where group therapy and treatment is available

Group Therapy at California Detox

All of our treatment programs at California Detox offer access to group counseling for drug addiction or alcoholism as a core component of programming. We also have an array of treatment programs for mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Again, group counseling will play a central role in treatment.

Choose from the following treatment programs at our Laguna Beach rehab:

  • Supervised medical detox
  • Inpatient programs (residential rehab)
  • PHPs (partial hospitalization programs)
  • IOPs (intensive outpatient programs)
  • Dual diagnosis treatment programs (for co-occurring disorders)

Whether you have a mild marijuana use disorder or a severe opioid use disorder, you can connect with the most appropriate treatment for your needs. The California Detox treatment team consists of credentialed and experienced medical professionals and addiction specialists. They will create a personalized treatment plan for you drawing from these evidence-based interventions:

  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
  • Psychotherapy (CBT and DBT)
  • Holistic therapies

When you are ready to transition from addiction to detox, recovery, and sustained sobriety, reach out to admissions today by calling 949.567.8790.


Engaging with group therapy allows you to share your experiences of addiction with peers in recovery who have lived experience of addiction and are undergoing similar experiences. Benefit from exposure to different viewpoints and get a variety of feedback from people who understand addiction from a personal perspective. Group sessions provide a safe and welcoming environment in which you can put new skills into practice as you move from active drug addiction into ongoing recovery.
For many people in recovery, peer support groups like AA can be a valuable component of sober living. While peer support groups might be beneficial for some people in recovery, they are not synonymous with group therapy. Peer support group sessions are not led by trained professionals, but instead by group members who may not be credentialed or qualified.


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