If you only read a part of The Big Book, you may have been startled by an assertion the author makes fairly early on in the reading. “We are powerless over [addiction], and our lives have become unmanageable.” Even as treatment specialists, we’ll admit that it can be quite scary to read something that basically tells us we have no control over an illness that’s quite literally killing us. Good thing The Big Book doesn’t end there. In reading just a little further, we find that the solution to addiction isn’t voodoo, magic, or happenstance. Instead, it lies almost entirely in community, fellowship, brotherhood, and unity.
In fact, Alcoholics Anonymous, the very first known support group for addicts (founded almost ninety years ago) still counts fellowship for men and women that are suffering through the same addictions as the primary reason it was founded: “Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.”
Group therapy is one of the practical ways we learn to find solace in fellowship with others, and its simplicity is what makes it so darn effective in treatment. In a group, the weight of our struggles doesn’t rest solely on our shoulders. It’s shared equally with our brothers and sisters in similar situations. We learn unity and partnership in group therapy (and also tend to make some of our best friends in life because of it). We also learn that struggles we thought we were alone in facing are in fact the same struggles many others are going through as well.
Group therapy, is, in a way, essential to addiction recovery, and we need look no further than The Big Book to affirm this. In speaking about the importance of unity, brotherhood, and fellowship, The Big Book says: “It became clear that if we ever were to feel emotionally secure among grown-up people, we would have to put our lives on a give-and-take basis; we would have to develop the sense of being in partnership or brotherhood with all those around us.”
At Thrive Treatment℠, group therapy is the bread and butter of our treatment programs, and for good reason. As an outpatient facility, we understand just how important it is to be able to learn and grow with supportive peers, and to have a dynamic community of graduates, current clients, and mentors to fellowship with during and after initial treatment. We take group therapy and fellowship with our peers seriously, and we foster the concept of groups in everything we do. We truly believe that there is no better way to conquer addiction than with the help of our peers. After all, as The Big Book says, “there isn’t a fellowship on earth which lavishes more devoted care upon its individual members; surely there is none which more jealously guards the individual’s right to think, talk, and act as he wishes.”
What makes group therapy so important?
Modern language is riddled with metaphors that describe the importance of collaboration. Sayings like “many hands make light work,” and “alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” spring to mind almost immediately. In addiction treatment, groups are even more important, simply because they foster a culture that allows us to feel safe, protected, respected, and heard. When groups are cohesive, they act as an extension of ourselves, and can provide us with a feeling of family and belonging. This is important, particularly when we are dealing with issues that are hard to discuss, like latent problems, fears, or situations that may have caused our substance abuse in the first place.
When we’re addicted, we can often feel isolated. People that aren’t addicted may shun us, and we may lose contact with those we love and care for simply because our addiction prevents them from being around us. This isolation can often cause us to sink even deeper into our addiction, or to become depressed, anxious, or worse. Addiction is most effective in a silo, because there’s no one around to help us get back on the right track. That’s why group therapy is the exact opposite. By providing a safe space for all, we eliminate a lot of the anxious feelings we had on our own. Treatment isn’t a one-man job, and no man is an island. Group therapy makes sure we always have someone to lean on.
Group therapy also gives us new perspective. If one of our peers presents an issue that they’ve been struggling with in therapy, we may find that we, too, are in a similar situation. Hearing their perspective and listening to the advice the therapist gives them may just open our eyes to a whole new way of looking at our own problem! In a second, an issue that seemed almost impossible to overcome could have a very simple solution. Humans were built to live together, work together, and learn together. We’re all inherently social creatures. It’s fitting that the best way to treat an addiction illness, then, is to do it collaboratively!
Thrive Treatment℠ is a leading outpatient addiction treatment center based in Santa Monica, California. Our cutting edge strategies provide clients with the tools they need to not just beat treatment, but to become better people overall. Call us today at (888) 975-8474 to see what we can do for you!