Self-Help Group Therapy

When people struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, this becomes a capturing issue that all but takes a person over completely. This becomes a crisis that is the beginning, middle, and end of a person’s day. It is on their minds constantly. It is a problem that never seems to go away, no matter how badly an afflicted individual wants it to. People who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction will have to receive help through addiction treatment, the most effective of which is inpatient drug and alcohol rehab.

Group Therapy

One of the most powerful dynamics for effecting positive change in a recovering addict is through group therapy. Group therapy has been a strong factor in addiction recovery for decades. Through the group dynamic, participants are able to foster hope for themselves and others, and they are able to examine the core issues in themselves and others that create and exacerbate addictive characteristics.

Some of the key functions of an effective self-help group therapy session are:

  • Group sessions should foster inspiration through the recovery of others.
  • It should assist participants in self-identifying harmful or negative behavior traits.
  • Self-help group sessions should help participants to examine core values.
  • Participants need to feel like they can support and nurture each other like family.
  • Group members should learn how to lead by example.
  • They should learn how to adopt positive and healthy coping mechanisms.
  • They should learn how to explore solutions to emotional and interpersonal conflicts.
  • Participants should be able to confront denial and harmful behaviors.
  • Participants should be able to discuss responsibilities and limitations.
  • Group members need to be able to add structure to chaotic lives and lifestyles.
  • Group sessions should be able to provide a safe environment in which participants can practice newly developing life skills.

The Strength of Group Therapy

There is a powerful strength to any form of group therapy, used for any purpose. Humans have been congregating in groups to solve problems for countless millennia. Our education occurs in groups at colleges and schools. Our countries are run by groups through governments. Local town and city issues are addressed in group councils. Even the American family, when met with adversity or problems, solves it by getting the group together and working on it. Religion, formed in groups, is a group-based effort to create spiritual solidarity.  There is no doubt that human beings tend to perform better in groups.

The same is true for addiction recovery, and no official document puts it better than the following paragraph from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a division of the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

  • “The natural propensity of human beings to congregate makes group therapy a powerful therapeutic tool for treating substance abuse, one that is as helpful as individual therapy, and sometimes more successful. One reason for this efficacy is that groups intrinsically have many rewarding benefits—such as reducing isolation and enabling members to witness the recovery of others—and these qualities draw clients into a culture of recovery. Another reason groups work so well is that they are suitable especially for treating problems that commonly accompany substance abuse, such as depression, isolation, and shame.”

Group therapy creates an environment where participants are able to not only work on their own issues but to help others work on theirs. Such an opportunity is truly helpful, as both efforts co-exist beautifully and add strength to each other. When an individual participates in group therapy, that person will receive help, support, advice, solidarity, and real-world solutions from their peers. In turn, one will feel inspired by this to reach out and help his peers in a likewise fashion. This action of helping others also further strengthens one’s own ability to help oneself, which is then again added to by one’s peers’ efforts to help him. This cyclical pattern creates an ongoing positive environment that is very conducive to sobriety.

Common Self-Help Groups Delivered at Outpatient Facilities

After one completes residential treatment at a rehabilitation facility, it is of the utmost importance to continue recovery at an outpatient center. The stability and strength that aftercare group sessions delivers to recovering addicts are very worthwhile. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, engaging in aftercare post-treatment reduces one’s chances of relapse by fifty percent. Some common outpatient self-help group therapy organizations that are also offered at little to no cost are:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Founded in 1935 and being the oldest addiction recovery group in America, AA offers a self-help support group through the 12 step approach.
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Founded in 1948 and paralleling Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous presents itself as being a perfect location for recovering drug addicts to receive assistance and a group setting to practice self-help for narcotic addiction.
  • SMART Recovery. SMART Recovery offers services both outpatient and inpatient for clients, services which do a lot of good for presenting a secular, non-12 step alternative to self-help and group therapy.
  • Al-Anon and Nar-Anon Family Groups. This is a self-help group therapy setting designed to help the family members and loved ones who have suffered by having someone close to them who has been addicted.


A “Self-help” group therapy session is a special subset of general group therapy. Self-help groups encourage self-sufficiency and self-sustainability. Self-help groups focus on teaching recovering individuals how to be independent and capable of building their own recovery, on their own. Quoted below is a perfect outline in one paragraph of the key differences between self-help group therapy and regular group therapy:

  • “Self-help groups are subsets of mutual support and peer support groups, and have a specific purpose for mutual aid in satisfying a common need, overcoming a shared handicap or life-disrupting problem. Self-help groups are less bureaucratic and work on a more grassroots level. Self-help Organizations are national affiliates of local self-help groups or mental health consumer groups that finance research, maintain public relations or lobby for legislation in favor of those affected. Self-help groups include Family-to-Family education and support groups – the effectiveness of which has been confirmed in a recent controlled study.”

In the previous section, AA, NA, SMART Recovery, Al-Anon, and Nar-Anon were listed as self-help groups. These groups strive to help their participants build strength in themselves and an ability to move past the trials and tribulations of drug and alcohol addiction. Self-help groups get participants moving ever onward towards a position of self-reliance and independence. Self-help groups build self-control, self-esteem, personal image, self-reliance, and personal perseverance. The goal of self-help groups is to give participants the tools to go out and live a normal and responsible adult life without the addition of substance abuse.

A Forever Recovery utilizes self-help group therapies within the recovery program and as a part of the aftercare approach both. In this way, clients are able to utilize the full benefits of these very positive approaches while working on other treatment methods in tandem. A Forever Recovery seeks to give clients the most well-rounded and varied treatment approach possible, and delivering self-help group therapy sessions to clients is one of many ways the treatment center accomplishes this. For more information, contact A Forever Recovery today at 877-459-9730.