Breaking the shame of addiction in group therapy
One of the main barriers to reaching out for addiction support is the shame that often comes with admitting that there is a problem. This shame can keep you trapped within a vicious cycle, where embarrassment leaves you withdrawn and isolated which then perpetuates and worsens your addiction.
It is often the case that a person with an addiction will feel ashamed of who they are, as well as unworthy, unloved and hopeless. However, to break the shame cycle, it is important for you to understand that addiction is not a choice or a lack of willpower – it’s a disease that cannot be cured, but from which you can recover.
What causes addiction?
There are contributing factors that can lead to the development of an addiction. Some of these include:
- Experiencing stressful or traumatic life events
- Existing mental health problems
- Environmental factors
- Learned behaviours
One of the recommended treatments to support you through recovery is group therapy, which is an effective way to address issues in a safe and non-judgemental environment.
What is group therapy?
Group therapy takes place with a wider group of people, who have similar diagnoses to you. At Life Works, group therapy sessions are facilitated by expert therapists. During sessions you will be encouraged to share your experiences with other group members, offer mutual support and guidance, and learn from each other within the highly compassionate space.
What happens in addiction group therapy meetings?
The idea of group therapy can initially seem intimidating and ‘scary’. It’s common for people not to want to open up in front of others at first, but once you embrace the initial fear, you will be able to benefit from sharing with others.
During the group therapy sessions at Life Works, people are encouraged to share their experiences and insights within small groups of up to 10 people. Group therapy sessions can last up to 90 minutes each, depending on the therapy, for a total of 10 sessions.
These sessions help you to see and learn from different perspectives, and also allow for welcome feedback and immense support from others going through similar difficulties.
Why is group work important in addiction recovery?
Receiving therapy and treatment for addictions in a group setting is an effective way to reduce the feelings of guilt and shame associated with the illness.
You may think that you are the only one to feel like you do, and that you are alone in your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Group therapy gives you an opportunity to interact with others going through similar experiences, and recognise that you are not alone. In hearing from people further on in their recovery, it can also provide you with encouragement and the belief that your recovery is also possible.
Also, we understand that admitting your issues to close family and friends can be difficult. Group therapy gives you the opportunity to share your thoughts with those who can truly empathise.
How can you get the best results out of group therapy?
To get the most out of group therapy, it is beneficial to go in with an open mind and a willingness to participate.
Make an agreement – before therapy, its common practice for you to sign an agreement so that you know what is expected of you. Therefore you can feel safe in the knowledge that each participant has agreed to the same commitments as yourself.
Be willing to participate – there may be occasions when you don’t feel like sharing or talking but remember that the more you take part, the more you will get out of group therapy. Your experiences and contributions will also help others in your group.
Make an effort to share – we understand that it can be difficult to be open and share personal experiences with others. However, being vulnerable within the safe environment of group therapy is a key part of the recovery process. By sharing your experiences, others can provide welcome feedback and support and in turn, you can help them. In sharing with others going through a similar process, you will come to understand that there is no shame in admitting that you are suffering with addiction.
This blog was reviewed by Siobhan Ward (BA(Hons) Graphic Design, MSc in Addiction Psychology and Counselling, PgDip in Addiction Psychology and Counselling), Addiction Programme Lead at Life Works.
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