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Alcohol & Health
Helping Alcoholics
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Updated on May 17, 2023
5 min read

Group Therapy for Alcohol Abuse and Addiction

Key Takeaways

  • Group therapy is an effective way to treat alcohol addiction
  • Group therapy does not cure alcohol addiction, but it can help reduce some symptoms
  • While AA is the most widely known group therapy for alcohol addiction, there are many options available

What Is Group Therapy for Alcohol Addiction?

In addition to individual therapy, group therapy can help reduce symptoms of alcohol addiction. It’s a highly effective substance use treatment.6

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, you’re not alone. Around 29.5 million people ages 12 and older have struggled with alcohol use disorder in the past year.2

Group therapy brings you and other group members together regularly. You sit together to talk about your experiences with and beliefs about alcohol. You also share advice, motivation, and peer support.

The group discussions surrounding drug and alcohol addictions are always led by mental health or addiction professionals. They typically take place in therapeutic settings:

  • Inpatient or outpatient treatment centers
  • Hospitals
  • Residential programs
  • Community centers

What’s the Difference Between Group Therapy and Support Groups?

It’s important to recognize the difference between group therapy and support groups. While they seem similar, they’re not the same.

A trained mental health or addiction professional always leads group therapy. That said, they still offer peer-to-peer support.

Support groups are also an effective means of treating the symptoms of alcoholism.

Some examples of support groups for treating substance use include the following:

There are also group therapy sessions for loved ones of people with alcohol addiction. Here are a few options for your friends and family to attend group therapy:

Is AA a Type of Group Therapy?

No, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is not considered group therapy. Alcoholics Anonymous groups don't typically have trained mental health professionals.4


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What Makes Group Therapy Unique?

Group therapy is unique because it puts you in a room with a bunch of people who all feel alone but aren’t.1

Plus, unlike support groups, a group therapy setting always includes a group therapist. 

You don’t need to navigate the road to recovery on your own. There are tons of others like you—and professionals who are there to help.

Around the world, three million people a year lose their lives to alcohol. Group therapy can help you stay safe.3

5 Benefits of Group Therapy for Alcohol Abuse and Addiction

There are infinite benefits to group therapy for alcohol use and addiction. Here are five of the most impactful ones.5

1. You feel less alone.

Group therapy can help you feel less alone in your journey to recovery. When you meet people who are also struggling with the same or similar addictions, you can share your experiences and advice.

2. Talking things out can feel good.

When you bottle up your emotions, they might make you feel like drinking more. But discussing your stressors can help you unpack the triggers that drive you to drink. You might find relief in just sharing aloud, but you might also learn healthier coping mechanisms from your group peers. 

3. Regular meetings can help hold you accountable.

When you attend a regular meeting, you help hold yourself accountable for staying on the sobriety track. You are less likely to quit if you have support around you. And regular goal reminders every week can help keep you motivated.

4. You get support from professionals.

Group therapy groups are generally run by mental health experts. These are healthcare professionals who understand addiction and are there for you every step of the way. They can also help you if you show signs of withdrawal or need other medical attention.

5. Your friends and family can join you.

As mentioned above, there are also support groups for your friends and family members. Your loved ones can play an important role in your recovery. With support groups, they can learn how to better cope with your addiction and find more successful ways of helping you.


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Are There Cons to Group Therapy?

As with all types of treatment options, group therapy has its setbacks.

  • Not all group therapies are open to everyone. Some are only for adults, while others are for teens.
  • Not everyone in the support group shares the same experiences. Different people may be battling different addictions. Some might be there for alcohol, while others might be battling substance use.
  • Being vulnerable and opening up to strangers might feel uncomfortable at first. It can also be emotionally draining.
  • Sometimes, group therapy techniques may not feel productive for you.
  • You might not feel comfortable or safe talking about your addiction in a public place.
  • Not all group therapy is covered by insurance.

For some people, individual therapy might be a better option.


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Individual Therapy vs. Group Therapy

While group therapy puts you in touch with other people in your shoes, individual therapy is a one-on-one experience with a therapist.

Individual therapy offers you a safe space to open up about your battle with addiction with a trained professional. Your therapist can help you unpack your triggers and find healthier ways to deal with your problems.

Individual therapy uses all kinds of techniques. Your therapist might take a cognitive-behavioral approach, for example. This looks for patterns in your behaviors so you can break them.

It’s up to you to decide whether group therapy or individual therapy is right for you.

Updated on May 17, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on May 17, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. 1 Groups and Substance Abuse Treatment. NCBI.
  2. Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. Alcohol.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization.
  4. Have a Problem with Alcohol? There Is a Solution.” Alcoholics Anonymous.
  5. Tracy, Kathlene, and Samantha P Wallace. “Benefits of Peer Support Groups in the Treatment of Addiction.” Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, U.S. National Library of Medicine. 
  6. Wendt, Dennis C, and Joseph P Gone. “Group Therapy for Substance Use Disorders: A Survey of Clinician Practices.” Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery, U.S. National Library of Medicine. 
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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