Substance abuse groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous help recovering individuals to resist drugs and alcohol through group gatherings, group support and group therapy. They help addicts to change their lifestyle and develop new life skills and coping mechanisms through a series of short-term goals.
Facing the Truth
Sometimes those who are in substance abuse groups still have not accepted the fact that they have an addiction, and they are in a state of denial. Breaking through that denial can sometimes be difficult. One activity involves having each group member write a short story of how they first started using drugs or alcohol, listing all the details right up to their entry into the substance abuse program. The therapist should take up all the stories and pass them out so no one has his own story. Members will each read a story aloud, and all other members should raise their hands when they hear something that sounds like denial.
Role playing is a creative activity to help members learn better drug and alcohol refusal skills. One group member plays the drug dealer or an old friend, and tries to get the newly recovered person to try drugs or alcohol again by any means he can. Follow up this activity by making suggestions on how to better deal with these types of situations when they occur.
Members in group therapy may sometimes find it difficult to speak, but can better express themselves through music. Each group member can be assigned to bring a CD with a song that she feels expresses an important aspect of her life, or reveals something personal about her that she would like to share with the others. Everyone can take turns playing their song.
Throw it Away
To help addicts come to grips with what drugs and alcohol have done to their life, have group members each write out a list of behaviors that are directly related to their drug or alcohol abuse, including all the negative consequences that those behaviors have caused. After members share their lists with the group, each member can rip up his list and throw it into a trash can in front of the group, symbolizing throwing away the destructive behavior.