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Substance Abuse Group Topics

Substance abuse groups offer a wealth of support and help many people maintain long-term addiction recovery. As a form of group therapy, those who attend substance abuse groups have a shared goal of living a life free from the shackles of drug or alcohol addiction.

Substance abuse groups provide a judgment-free environment for those in recovery to seek advice and guidance from other members. Group sessions are generally led by licensed therapists who prompt and guide discussion and encourage individuals to participate. The therapist might also identify individual issues each member may be facing that reoccur in group therapy and daily life.

The conversation topics in group therapy sessions can vary, but there are many great discussion points to choose from.

Group Therapy Benefits

Group therapy plays an integral part in addiction recovery. Being in a group setting allows individuals to gain a greater understanding of their own problems while building self-awareness by listening to the stories of others. Addiction recovery can be an isolating journey for some, but group therapy presents an opportunity to connect with other people.

Substance use disorder groups also provide a chance for those in attendance to improve their communication skills, build connections with other group members through sharing their experiences, and receive honest feedback and perspectives from peers.

Group Therapy Activities

All substance abuse group therapy activities will be slightly different. However, we share some common group therapy activities below.

List Things To Do Instead of Using Drugs

This may include activities or creative tasks. Members may be asked to reflect on what they can do when they experience cravings and how to prevent cravings in the first place.

Anger Management

Activities related to anger management skills are encountered in substance use disorder groups. These activities often surface several times depending on the group and the group members.

During anger management groups, therapists provide guidance and instructions on anger management techniques, and other group members may share their experiences.

Conflict Resolution

All relationships experience conflict – the key to maintaining a healthy relationship is learning how to resolve them. Substance use disorders can put a tremendous strain on relationships. For this reason, learning to resolve conflict in healthy ways is essential to the recovery journey.

Identify ‘Bad’ Habits

During group therapy, members may be asked to make a list of habits that they perceive to be bad. Following this, the group leader may encourage members to identify why they are harmful and what can be done to replace them. Healthier alternatives may be suggested to help members avoid these habits.

Brainstorm Affirmations

In addition to the above activities, the group may be invited to brainstorm affirmations to share with the group. These could be general affirmations for any of the group members, individual affirmations, or more personal affirmations that recognize individual growth and importance.

Affirmations provide an opportunity to recognize how certain words can significantly impact people’s feelings, behaviors, and self-confidence.

Goal Setting

Setting goals gives those in recovery things to work towards. Goals could be general; however, specific themes such as fitness goals may be encouraged. During this activity, the group is encouraged to discuss aspects of goals that may have already been achieved on each person’s journey, allowing members to seek inspiration from others.


Everyone tends to focus on the future or past now and again. However, taking a moment to stop and focus on the present can be extremely beneficial. As a result, practicing mindfulness is common in substance abuse group therapy.

Group Therapy Topics

As with group activities, topics also vary and tend to follow the lead of members and the therapist facilitating the session. Below, we have outlined a few standard topics.


Discussing the topic of gratitude is an everyday activity in group therapy sessions. Conversations may cover aspects that group members are grateful for, what gratitude is, and how to show gratitude.

Triggers for Substance Use

One of the most common substance use disorder group topics is triggers. All group members may have different triggers, so listening to these could help other attendees identify secondary triggers or coping methods they have not yet identified.

The group leader may ask each member how they have responded to triggers in the past. They may also discuss what coping strategies each member uses to overcome triggers. Reflecting on personal experiences and listening to those of others can be an enlightening experience.

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep is essential for general health, yet it is something that people recovering from a substance use disorder or addiction can have trouble with. It can be helpful to brainstorm ways to reach sleep goals alongside other people who may experience the same thing.

The Significance of Self-Care

Self-care is essential for long-term sobriety. However, it can be challenging to keep up with self-care goals. For this reason, group therapy can be a great way of keeping each other accountable. Group therapy also ensures that support systems can be developed.

When discussing the importance of self-care, it is not uncommon for members to share their self-care goals and how they are trying to achieve these. Hearing outside perspectives of self-care can help other people create a healthy daily routine, which can enhance mental health.

Letting Go

Talking about forgiveness and overcoming resentment is an essential part of addiction recovery. During group therapy, members may be invited to share who they would like to forgive and if holding on to grudges and resentment has affected their life in any way.

Letting go of hurtful moments and hearing about other people’s experiences can help many gain greater self-awareness.


Although many people may overlook this particular topic, it is important to consider what those in recovery would say to their younger selves if they could. For this reason, group topics often encourage members to consider what they would say, what advice they would give, and what direction they would point their younger self in. Childhood experiences may also be discussed.

Stress Management

Stress affects everyone, so creating healthy coping mechanisms is a vital part of any recovery plan. Group topics frequently surround stress management, helping those in attendance identify stressors in their life.

Members may be invited to talk about how they cope with stress or instances when they feel unable to. From here, consequences can be evaluated. Hearing other people’s responses can be incredibly useful.


In support groups, members may also brainstorm ways to reduce isolation and discuss the risks or benefits of being alone. Discussing isolation risks can lead to conversations surrounding healthy and harmful habits in social situations.

To Conclude

Therapy groups increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and provide a safe place for people who have struggled with substance abuse to talk about their recovery. Groups also enable those in recovery to discuss mental illness, core issues in their lives, the consequences of abusing substances, unhealthy habits, and building healthier ones.

Having a group to discuss these topics with can be incredibly powerful either on its own or in addition to individual therapy. Joining a substance abuse group can additionally improve an individual’s chance of long-term sobriety.

Contact Empowered Recovery today for more information about our recovery support services.

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