Most clinicians would say “yes”. As behavioral science and neuroscience uncover more things about substance use disorder (SUD), rehabs have, over time, readjusted their treatment approaches. But while many trends have come and gone in addiction treatment, group therapy remains one of the few constants in the practice.
SUD patients who have completed initial detox are likely going to need psychotherapy combined with other types of supplemental therapy to help maintain recovery gains. In the vast majority of cases, clinicians will recommend group therapy or workshops alongside individual therapy sessions.
If you’re an introvert, you probably already understand that group therapy is something many people dread or, at least, are ambivalent to. Despite this, group therapy is something most people going through rehab will experience, regardless if it’s done in a residential or outpatient setting.
Below are the main reasons most mental health clinicians will recommend group therapy for individuals recovering from SUD.
Dr. Irvin David Yalom, the professor emeritus at Stanford University and one of the main proponents of group psychotherapy calls this the “principle of universality”. Mental health conditions can be incredibly isolating, as most of the people an affected person interacts with will be unable to relate to or understand what they’re going through.
By grouping people with similar experiences together, individuals recovering from SUD can begin to feel less isolated, form bonds with others, and be more receptive to further therapy.
People with mental health problems like SUD are likely to be friends with other people who also use drugs or alcohol heavily. Additionally, they probably do not see these other people have much success in addressing their own physical and mental health issues. This can lead to a feeling of hopelessness and resignation that can work against one’s motivation to recover.
By putting these individuals in a group with others that have had similar experiences, yet managed to progress or recover, these feelings of hopelessness could be reduced. Ultimately, this may help improve one’s motivation to complete their recovery.
The experience of having an SUD and withdrawing from substances is uniquely distressing and invariably misunderstood, which may lead some people to stop socializing. The lack of socialization can serve to worsen one’s mental health and can leave a person without the skills needed to progress personally and professionally, which, in turn, can exacerbate an already bad situation.
Being in the safe space of a group session with others who have experienced the same things can be a great way to rebuild social skills. Additionally, these interactions may be important in instilling the confidence needed to address other challenges in day-to-day life that one would encounter after rehab.
We often see ourselves in others, especially when we share some kind of common experience that most other people have not. Seeing others who are like you can be a good way to see things about yourself that you did not notice before. For this reason, group sessions may also be vital for helping recovering individuals get a better sense of empathy.
A lot of people are not necessarily going to be comfortable freely discussing their experiences with substance misuse because of the stigma around it. Correctly, many assume that many other people will not understand or have a negative attitude towards them.
When organized well, group therapy and workshops can allow people recovering from drug or alcohol misuse to have an avenue for articulating what they feel, with much less fear that they will be misunderstood. This ability to articulate experiences can also help the sharer themselves to understand their own situation better.
A therapeutic alliance describes the relationship between the patient, therapist, and other agents involved in their care and recovery. By adding more relationships in a therapeutic alliance, recovering individuals can gain more insights into what may be more or less helpful in their specific case. This may serve to significantly save the time needed to make a full recovery.
Not all group therapy and workshops sessions are necessarily going to be appropriate for all recovering individuals. Boston Drug Treatment Centers makes it easy to find the ones that will work well for you or an affected family member. Call us at (857) 577-8193 to find group sessions throughout the New England region that will match your current recovery goals.