Tips For Surviving Substance Abuse Group Therapy

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One of the key parts of substance abuse treatment is group therapy. Group therapy gives you a chance to interact with other people who have had the same experiences as you and have gotten a little bit stronger and a little bit further into recovery. As you go through group therapy over a few months, you will slowly become one of those old-timers who you looked up to and will act as a role model for people who are new to recovery. However, group therapy can be frustrating at times. Here are some tips for getting through group therapy without losing your cool.

1. Bring Something to Occupy Your Hands

You are always going to be expected to pay attention in group. You want people to pay attention to you while you are speaking and sharing your experience and it is fair for others to expect the same from you. However, group therapy can get frustrating, especially on a day when you are not focused or have had something happen to you that is emotionally upsetting. Having something to occupy your hands but not your mind will help you maintain your focus during the group and get as much out of group as possible. 

Some ideas for activities that occupy your hands include knitting, crocheting, coloring, doodling, or stringing beads. These activities don't require you to focus on the task in order to complete them but keep you just occupied enough with your hands to tame any jitters you might have. Make sure that you check with the group leader before you bring any of these activities.

2. Focus on Empathizing With Whoever is Sharing

If you find that your attention is wandering when other people are speaking, try focusing on how you would feel in whatever situation they are describing and how you would react. Try to see things from their point of view. By actively trying to empathize with the speaker, you will focus more on them and be able to get more out of group therapy.

3. Don't Give Advice

Unless people ask for it, don't give advice. This will help discourage others from giving you advice when you don't ask for it, which you probably find very frustrating. If someone does try to give you advice, practice saying "I'm not looking for advice right now, just empathy" without getting angry. This is a polite way to get the advice-giving to stop without offending the person trying to give it.

For more information, talk to a company that specializes in substance abuse treatment, like Dr. Lewis A. Weber & Associates.