Addiction Rehab – why is group therapy used more than one to ones?

Why do so many alcoholics and addicts have to go to addiction rehab?

It is difficult to find reliable overall statistics that show the percentage of people, in the UK, who are addicted to alcohol, drugs, prescription medication or gambling, or who have an eating disorder such as bulimia and anorexia.  However, what is clear is that, since the start of the Covid pandemic, the number of people with a predisposition to become addicted and who need help has increased sharply.

Where do these people go for help these days? The answer to that question is that many of them go to a private residential rehab or addiction clinic. GPs will generally not offer a home detox due to changes in legislation and the danger of people , in a home environment, also using alcohol or drugs on top of the prescribed medication.  It is extremely rare for a hospital to admit anyone with an alcohol or drug problem. Often the most they will do is hydrate the individual and discharge them within 24 hours. 

Local drug and alcohol services are underfunded and do not have the resources to offer a residential alcohol detox or help for drug addiction but can offer a needle exchange and prescription for a heroin substitute, methadone.

How long do people stay in an addiction clinic?

At The Haynes Clinic, we generally get people admitted to us for a residential period of up to 28 days which is the recommended time for treatment to have a good chance of being successful. However, possibly due to finances or not being able to get much time off work there is the option to be admitted for 14 days.  The only exceptions to this would be for a prescription drug addiction or an eating disorder, both of which would usually require a longer period of time in treatment and would need an individual assessment.

Why do rehab clinics use the 12 Step Programme?

In the UK, 99.9% of all addiction rehabs treatments are based around the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step Programme. AA was founded 88 years ago and the daily working of the 12 Steps has helped many thousands of people become and remain sober.  This 12 Step programme has been adopted as a way to get well by all other addictions and their respective support groups. Therefore, as a result, whatever addiction that you have been admitted for, everyone will be working on the same programme of Recovery. This is actually a great leveller as when we get into treatment, we realise that whatever our addiction it has affected everyone’s life areas of health, social, relationships, work, and family in a detrimental way and we can determine that it is getting far worse the longer that we do not take steps to seek help.

The importance of honesty in addiction rehab

rehab group session

Certainly, the average age of people seeking residential rehab treatment has lowered in recent years and at The Haynes Clinic we understand the difficulty for them trying to grasp the concept of total abstinence and, importantly, the willingness of wanting to change, with the help of others, their addictive thinking and behaviour.  This is one of the reasons why a structured timetable of daily group therapy is so important. 

The ability to be open and honest within a group and to willingly share our life experiences with others is all part of the addiction rehabilitation process. This enables others to see that their addictive behaviour and thinking has also created similar feelings of guilt, shame, sadness, anger, and remorse through their actions. There will be written work comprising a life history and grasping an understanding of the first 4 Steps of the 12 Step programme and to then read out that work within a group environment is very powerful and moving. 

For the first time in a long time we will be able to experience true feelings of emotion that are not being supressed with addictive behaviour. The power of group therapy cannot be experienced in a one-to-one therapy setting. Addiction is also about dishonesty and by wanting to share something in private solely with a therapist is not as effective as the willingness to take a leap of faith and share within a group setting.

Understanding the 12 Step Programme

To help with our understanding of the wording of the Steps there will be talks and workshops, from qualified therapists, such as discussing the dangers of complacency and the stages that could lead to a relapse.  The group sessions will also enable an understanding  of each Step prior to any written work being done to explore our own understanding of how each step relates to us.

Basically, if we do not understand what we need to do when we leave treatment then how are we expected to make changes?  The programme is also based around “one day at a time,” it is not based around “I will never drink or drug again” as this can be too challenging a concept to take on board. Some of the workshops will be based on the simple changes that need to be made each day that will enable us to continue on a road of Recovery.

All written work will be read out within the group setting and all groups will be facilitated by a therapist.  Any feedback to that work will be to further help us with our understanding and sometimes we might feel that the feedback is very challenging. However, we need to remember that most of the qualified therapists have also been through treatment themselves and are in Recovery, so they have also experienced their own time within a residential setting of an addiction rehab and their feedback to our work is constructive and meant to be helpful. It should not be considered destructive.

Attending 12 Step fellowship meetings

Also, during rehabilitation treatment there will be attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Cocaine Anonymous (CA) support groups.  This is also really important, as by firstly attending these groups with others in treatment, it makes it easier for when we return home.  We understand the format and workings of the support groups and they are no longer confusing for us.  Ongoing regular attendance at our respective support group is critical to our remaining well, but it is also important to remember that we need to engage and participate not just sit and listen and the experience we have gained in treatment will help us with this.

The first word of the first Step is “WE” and after we have left treatment it is the ongoing seeking and accepting help from others that will keep us well. Going into an addictions rehab is just the start of the journey and humbly using what we have learnt whilst being there is critical.