Top 5 Substance Abuse Group Therapy Activities

October 8, 2021

While substance use disorders (SUD) may look different on everyone, there is no doubt that they ruin lives. They can compromise your physical health– drastic weight changes, sleeping problems, tremors, declining personal hygiene.

Drug addiction also messes with your mental health. Anxiety and depression are the major mental illnesses associated with SUDs. More than that, your behavior significantly shifts. You make the substance a priority and neglect everything else. 

Luckily, SUDs are diseases that can be treated and cured. There are hundreds of techniques to keep you from succumbing to the disorder, from treating individuals to substance abuse group therapy.

substance abuse group therapy activities

What Is Group Therapy For?

Group therapy is a form of counseling that treats more than one person at the same time for the same psychological issue, such as substance abuse and addiction.

Facilitated by at least one professionally trained therapist, group therapy uses interventions based on psychological principles to treat individuals of the group. 

It’s important to note that group therapy is not the same as support groups. Although they both have the element of treating disorders in a group, their goals differ. Support groups help you cope, while group therapy enables you to change and is more structured. 

Benefits Of Substance Abuse Group Therapy

Even though there are different types of group therapy for addiction, they guide you to positive changes.

If individual therapy is not working for you, you might get more out of group therapy. Group therapy can also be used in conjunction with individual therapy for additional support. Here are some benefits you can get from group therapy. 

Uplifting peer support and pressure

Throughout treatment, you’ll need to be committed to the work. It can be challenging to focus and be consistent when you’re doing it alone. In group therapy, other members will push you and hold you accountable.

Developing coping skills

Aside from the techniques the therapist teaches, you can learn from other members. When members share their experiences, you can pick up a thing or two from them– either what to do or what not to do.


You receive feedback from your therapist in individual sessions but get more from group therapy. With all the information from other group members, you get a clearer image of yourself. From there, you can improve what needs to be improved and change what needs to be changed.

Sense Of Togetherness

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) says that if a member becomes emotionally attached, their relationship can potentially influence that individual.

In addition to that, you don’t feel isolated when in group therapy. They are a source of support and nurturing you can’t get anywhere else. You get a sense of camaraderie with people going through the same situation, making you feel less alone.

Substance Abuse Group Therapy Activities

In the same way, addiction is different for everyone, so are the activities in group therapy. Each activity has its own purpose and aim that help members in recovery. Listed below are the best activities in group therapy for substance abuse.

1. Meditation 

A brief meditation before each session helps set a calm tone. It can also encourage members to meditate on their own.

One popular meditation activity is reading an insightful passage. The facilitating therapist can read it out loud while the group follows. After that, members quietly reflect then share their reflections and insights.

types of group therapy for addiction

2. “Checking In” 

“Checking in” aids in developing social skills, which include empathy and emotional self-awareness. Also, it allows the group to review the groups’ ground rules, specifically making the session non-judgmental and productive for all. This activity also helps the facilitator note the issues that need to be discussed in that session.

In this activity, members take turns introducing themselves and telling the group how they feel. The group therapist can also post a list of emotions members can draw from to help the process.

3. Establish Goals 

Goals can be one of the substance abuse topics for group therapy. Many of those entering treatment fear feeling lost with no goals and activities because of the absence of the substance.

Once you’ve set your goals, the group can discuss ways to achieve them. Then, throughout treatment, you can use them as a motivator to push you in recovery. 

 4. Working On The 12 Steps 

The 12 steps are a common element in most group treatments because it’s one of the most effective. 

This program is based on the idea that you need to accept help from a greater power to overcome addiction and make amends. 

While people can do this individually, groups offer more support by working on the steps together.

 5. Role-Playing 

A role-playing activity allows individuals to see their past, present, and future more clearly.

In this, members act out significant parts of another member’s life. After each scene, the facilitator checks in with the focus member. Then, they all discuss and process the scene and the emotions it provoked.

By the end, the therapist recasts individuals in the person’s experience and rewrites key events. This allows the person to gain a sense of healing and closure, hopefully encouraging them to change for the better.

What To Talk About In Group Therapy

Other than the activities mentioned above, recovery groups topics can simply be discussed in sessions to evoke positive change or enlightenment. 


Discussing triggers and how to identify them is crucial in the recovery process. Once shared, the group and the therapist can develop potential plans to cope and deal with them.


Gratitude is a vital topic that must be discussed in group therapy. Recovering addicts tend to forget or lose track of the positive things they have. So, identifying and listing things they should be grateful for can give them hope and motivate them in recovery.

recovery groups topics

Recovery Beliefs

Each member will have their idea of where they stand in recovery. Group members are encouraged to talk about their accomplishments and what they want to achieve in the future. The rest of the group then gives feedback on the issues.

You Don’t Have To Be Alone

Even though going to therapy alone is an effective way to battle addiction, you don’t have to. Substance abuse group therapy allows you to process your situation and emotions with other people going through the same thing. You can help each other through recovery.

Plus, doing the activities with other people is beneficial. From meditation to role-playing, you can bounce off each other to get a more broad understanding of your disorders.

Looking for a place to heal with substance abuse treatment therapy? Turn to Buena Vista Health and Recovery Center. Fully equipped, our team of professionals provides addiction help to anyone struggling with a substance use disorder. Along with a variety of treatment programs, we can help you get your life back.

You can contact us at (800) 922-0095, or go to any of our locations: 

(623) 323-1970
29858 N. Tatum Blvd.
Cave Creek, AZ 85331

(480) 680-0606
3033 South Arizona Avenue
Chandler, Arizona 85248

(520) 436-7860
5151 East Pima Road
Tucson, Arizona 85712

(623) 323-7986
8171 E Indian Bend Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85250

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