13 Common Discussion Topics in Substance Abuse Group Therapy

IOP group therapy will cover a broad range of topics.

Group therapy is an important part of addiction recovery that has many benefits. Group therapy sessions are typically led by therapists who facilitate treatment by guiding the discussions and encouraging participation. There are several different types of therapy groups in substance abuse treatment, including:1 

  • Psychoeducational groups, which teach clients about addiction and substance abuse
  • Skills development groups, which help clients hone the necessary skills they need to maintain their sobriety
  • Cognitive behavioral groups, which help clients change the negative mindset, thoughts, and behaviors that contributed to their addiction.
  • Support groups, which empower clients to hold each other accountable and support constructive change.
  • Process groups, which allow clients to recreate their pasts in the group and rethink the relational and life problems they have tried to escape with substance abuse.

IOP group therapy will likely cover a broad range of topics, but here are some common discussion topics you can expect to cover during treatment.

Related post: How Can Therapy Support Addiction Recovery?

Common Discussion Topics in IOP Group Therapy

Bad habits

One primary focus in substance abuse treatment is learning how to replace bad habits with good ones. By changing daily habits, you can create a healthier and better life for yourself. However, you might need some help to identify any bad habits you have and develop new ones that will support a life of sobriety.

Substance abuse triggers

A substance abuse trigger is something that makes you want to use drugs or drink alcohol again. They’re dangerous because they increase your risk of relapsing. In substance abuse group therapy, you’ll listen to other people discuss their triggers. Consequently, this can also help you identify your own triggers and any patterns in your life. In therapy, you’ll also talk about how you responded to triggers in the past and develop strategies you can use to overcome them.


In recovery, letting go is a big topic of discussion. But, it’s often difficult for many people. During group therapy, you’ll discuss the topic of forgiveness in regard to overcoming resentments. For example, if you’ve been holding on to any grudges, you may discuss how holding on to that resentment has affected your life. Most importantly, you’ll likely also discuss why it’s important to forgive and how you can forgive someone in your life.

Negative thinking

Negative thoughts influence our mindset and behavior. In therapy, you’ll discuss this topic with others to explore the causes of negative thinking, the impact it has on your life, and how you can change it.


What is gratitude? How can you feel and express it? What things or people in your life are you grateful for, and why? These are all questions you’ll explore in group therapy. In doing so, you’ll also cultivate a more positive attitude and outlook on life.


Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing, and not overwhelmed by our surroundings.2 This may seem abstract, but in substance abuse group therapy, there are many benefits of discussing this topic and practicing mindfulness. In group talks, you may discuss the things in your life that you cannot change. Additionally, you might talk about the benefits of mindfulness and how it can help you maintain a sober lifestyle. The practice of focusing on what you can control instead of what you can’t goes hand-in-hand with the principles of the 12-Step Program.

Alternative sober activities

Sometimes, it might be difficult to imagine having fun without drugs or alcohol. Fortunately, in group therapy, you’ll discuss alternative activities that allow you to have fun and engage with others without needing drugs or alcohol to enjoy yourself. It’s very important to identify activities that do not involve substance abuse so you can spend your free time wisely and start creating a new life for yourself.


Traumatic life experiences like physical abuse, extreme loss, or physical injury can have a huge impact on your life, your thoughts, and your behavior. Discussing trauma during substance abuse group therapy can help you learn how to cope and address the experience in a healthy way. In addition, telling your story and listening as others share can help you restore trust and create strong bonds with others in a safe and supportive group environment. Equally important, discussing your trauma may help you feel understood and recognized while reducing feelings of isolation and alienation.3


Furthermore, in group therapy, you’ll also take time to explore who you are by describing yourself, as well as your interests, goals, and flaws. By identifying these things, you can better understand your behavioral and thought patterns and start working on becoming the person you’d like to be.

Stress and anger management

Stress and anger are major factors that can lead to relapse. In therapy, you’ll be challenged to consider questions like, “What makes you stressed or angry?” and “What happens when you don’t control your stress or anger?” In talking about these issues, you can develop healthy methods for controlling stress and anger so you’re less likely to relapse down the road.


Comparatively, in group therapy you might also practice developing empathy with role play activities. These will help you learn how to be more sensitive to what others are feeling and develop healthier relationships with people you care about, such as your spouse, children, and friends.


Self-care isn’t typically a priority when you’re addicted to drugs and alcohol. On the contrary, it’s vitally important in recovery. Discussing self-care during IOP group therapy can provide insight into what your peers do to maintain their mental and physical health. For example, you might discuss strategies for maintaining a healthy routine or goals you’d like to meet to prioritize your wellbeing.

Future plans

Although it’s helpful to discuss things that have happened in the past, another goal of IOP group therapy is to help you think about your future too. In discussing your future plans, you’ll be more motivated to stay on track with your sobriety. Also, discussing any plans you have to make amends, go back to school, or build new relationships will help you stay accountable to your peers and treatment provider.

Is Substance Abuse Group Therapy Effective?

Yes! Many research studies provide evidence that group therapy is highly effective for addiction recovery. For example, here are some of the main benefits of participating in group therapy discussions while you’re recovering from addiction:

  • Gain greater self-awareness by listening to others share
  • Improve your communication skills
  • Bond with sober peers through shared experiences
  • Receive honest feedback and outside perspectives from sober peers
  • Reduce isolation, shame, loneliness, and stigmatization

Overall, group therapy boosts a person’s ability to maintain long-lasting sobriety and it’s a safe haven of support, understanding, and mutual respect.

Related post: 6 Important Benefits of IOP Group Therapy

Enroll in an IOP Program Today

By and large, IOP group therapy can provide many benefits for people in recovery. At Eudaimonia Recovery Homes, we provide safe, sober housing for men, women, and LGBTQ+ individuals in recovery. Our homes are located in Austin, Houston, and Colorado Springs and some of them provide additional recovery support services, like:

Many of our sober living residents are also enrolled in our IOP, which consists of regular group therapy, individual therapy, life skills development, 12-Step Program work, and one-on-one support. 

If you’d like more information about Eudaimonia’s recovery support services, please call (888) 426-8101 or contact us online to speak with a member of our admissions team.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64223/ 
  2. https://www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/
  3. https://www.agpa.org/docs/default-source/practice-resources/group-interventions-for-treatment-of-trauma-in-adults.pdf?sfvrsn=8f6985a9_2 

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