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What to Expect in Addiction Group Therapy

What to Expect in Addiction Group Therapy

Addiction treatment programs provide a variety of therapies that help a person gain the skills and knowledge to maintain a substance-free lifestyle.  Among those are individual and group therapy sessions.   While most people don’t mind attending individual sessions, they are uncomfortable about baring their souls to strangers in a group setting.  

Group therapy is an integral part of most addiction treatment plans. The goal is to help a person realize that they aren’t alone in their struggle with addiction.  They benefit from listening to others as they share their experiences, goals, and coping tips.  Participants bond with each other over something they have in common:  overcoming drug or alcohol addiction.

So, if you are wondering what to expect in addiction group therapy, this information may alleviate some of your misgivings.

Unique Elements of Group Therapy You Wouldn’t Expect

When you envision yourself in a group therapy session, what do you see happening?  Do you imagine several people sitting in a circle avoiding eye contact with each other?  What do you expect to hear when they begin telling their stories?  Maybe you aren’t a bit interested in hearing about their hardships.  And, you’re not sure you want to share yours with them.  

It’s understandable to feel that way.  Facing the unknown while in your sensitive state is not something to look forward to.  Letting strangers hear about your struggles doesn’t appeal to you.  But, you’ll be surprised to find that this approach to therapy is not so bad after all.  

One unique element of group therapy is that each person in the group has strengths and weaknesses.  Everyone’s story is different, yet they have a common goal.  By sharing their experiences, others in the group can gain valuable insight to make their recovery journey easier.

What Happens During Group Therapy Sessions?

Therapy groups may be open or closed sessions.  An open group allows new members to join at any time.  Closed groups mean the membership remains the same from beginning to end.   Also, open groups often have no designated start or end date.  Closed groups have a predetermined number of days, weeks, or months.  

People who attend outpatient therapy can expect closed groups that meet once a week.  Inpatient and residential groups are usually open groups that meet two or three times a week or daily.  

Therapy groups are led or moderated by licensed, trained counselors or therapists.  The therapist may ask questions and encourage participation.  Their role is to reinforce rules and guidelines to ensure a safe, healthy, confidential atmosphere for everyone in the group.   Also, the therapist or counselor may provide feedback when appropriate and observe how group members interact together.  

Group therapy sessions can last from one hour to two hours so all members have the opportunity to contribute to the discussions if they wish to do so.

How Can You Benefit from Addiction Group Therapy?

The journey to recovery is often a rocky path littered with obstacles.  But, knowing you aren’t all alone on this path can help you get through those rough spots.  Attending regularly scheduled counseling sessions can provide support and guidance to help you stay on track.

Some of the other benefits you can expect from group therapy are as follows:

  • A sense of connection and belonging:  Substance use often interferes with or ends a person’s relationships.  Group therapy can alleviate their sense of isolation as they connect with others in the group.
  • Receiving and giving support:  Group members learn to accept help from others. In turn, they feel motivated to pay it forward.  Giving support or advice to others improves self-esteem, which plays a vital role in maintaining sobriety.
  • Learning to interact with others:  Groups are a safe place to build skills for interacting with others while sober.  This is probably one of the hardest things to do after leaving rehab.  People in recovery must learn ways to have fun that don’t involve alcohol drugs.
  • Improved communication skills:  People in a group setting have an opportunity to practice giving or receiving feedback without being aggressive or defensive.  Effective communication skills are vital while attempting to re-establish your place in society after rehab.
  • Gain a new perspective:  Listening to others during group sessions is an excellent opportunity to learn different ways to look at your situation.  With a new perspective, you’ll discover new ways of dealing with problems or issues.
  • Build friendships:  It’s not unusual for some group members to form lasting friendships with other group members.  These new friendships can be a continuing source of support and encouragement.

Group therapy also gives members a chance to witness positive changes in others.  They celebrate each other’s victories and support each other when challenges or setbacks arise.  With each achievement, a person is inspired to go one step further.  This sense of inspiration can be contagious and give others the encouragement they need to succeed in recovery.

Group Therapy at Cycles of Change Recovery Services

At Cycles of Change Recovery, we understand the challenges faced during recovery from addiction.  Our program includes a variety of options that focus on helping a person manage and overcome those challenges.  

If you’ve avoided rehab because you don’t know what to expect in group therapy, contact us at our Palmdale, CA facility today.  We’ll be happy to talk to you about our program and suggest a treatment plan customized for your unique needs.

What is Trauma-Informed Addiction Treatment?

What is Trauma-Informed Addiction Treatment?

Individuals who struggle with substance use disorders (SUDs) may have underlying mental or emotional issues.  Therefore, effective addiction treatment must include methodologies that address both the mental and physical factors that have contributed to their substance abuse.  Trauma-informed addiction treatment is an approach that recognizes the influence of trauma on SUDs.  This treatment method aims to help someone identify and manage the underlying factors that influenced their substance use behavior. 

Understanding Trauma and How it Contributes to Addiction

Deep-seated trauma is often the primary cause of a person’s drug or alcohol use.  Whether a traumatic experience was recent or occurred years ago, it can impact a person’s emotional health and daily functioning.  But, in many cases, the individual doesn’t realize the trauma-related emotional problems exist.

Before we talk about trauma-informed treatment, let’s clarify the difference between mental and emotional health.  Mental health affects various areas of a person’s life with a variety of symptoms.  For instance, mood swings, lack of motivation, and depression are some of the symptoms.  Emotional health refers to a person’s ability to express or manage their emotions in a mature, appropriate manner. 

When drugs or alcohol are used to self-medicate mental or emotional health issues, addiction is often the result.  Of course, many people aren’t aware that their substance abuse is a form of self-medication.  But, trauma-informed addiction treatment recognizes the connection between trauma and addiction.  So, the programs are structured to help a person heal emotionally, physically, mentally, and socially to enjoy long-term sobriety.

What Are the Most Common Traumatic Experiences? 

As humans, most of us will experience trauma at some point in our lives.  Trauma can occur in the form of physical damage or emotional wounds. While most physical damage heals over time, emotional scars can last indefinitely.  These emotional wounds can manifest in erratic behaviors, anger, violence, depression, and addiction to name a few.

The most common traumatic events include the following:

  • Victims or witnesses of crime or accidents.  These individuals often struggle with fear, rage, and a sense of helplessness.  These emotions can adversely affect or alter their way of life.
  • Catastrophic events.  Experiencing a catastrophe such as a hurricane, flood, earthquake, fire, or other disaster makes a person feel vulnerable.  They may be on edge, wondering if it’s going to happen again.  Many individuals develop PTSD after experiencing one of these events.
  • Grief after losing a loved one.  Whether the loss was sudden or expected after a long illness, the resulting grief can cause anxiety, depression, and substance use.
  • Military deployment or combat.  Many military veterans struggle with bad dreams, flashbacks, and extreme tension.  These PTSD symptoms often lead a person to use drugs or alcohol as a means of escape.
  • Sexual abuse or other physical violence.  In many sexual abuse cases, the perpetrator is someone the victim knows.  As a result, the victim fears exposing the crime and will suffer feelings of mistrust and betrayal.  The abused person is often ashamed to talk about the experience or seek medical attention.  This type of untreated trauma can lead to substance abuse.
  • Childhood neglect or abuse.  The effects of childhood trauma can extend far into adulthood.  These individuals often have difficulty forming relationships.  They may show poor performance in school or at work, have low self-esteem, and are more likely to use drugs or alcohol later in life.  

As indicated in the list above, trauma can result in many emotional and mental effects that change the course of a person’s life.  Sadly, substance use is a primary method for coping with the symptoms of trauma.  

How Does Trauma-Informed Addiction Treatment Help?

Understanding the role of trauma in a person’s life is the first step in determining the best treatment approach for their addiction.  Treatment must include methodologies to address both the emotional and physical factors involved.  

If a person doesn’t gain the confidence and skills needed to manage daily challenges, relapse is often the result.  In fact, studies show that about 40 to 60 percent of people relapse within the first few months after leaving rehab.  Of course, this doesn’t mean the treatment was ineffective.  And, it doesn’t mean the person failed at recovery.  Relapse is often an indication that more treatment is needed or that an aftercare program would be beneficial.

What to Expect at Cycles of Change Recovery

At Cycles of Change Recovery, we work with clients to help them identify and learn to manage the underlying reasons for their substance use.  Compulsive behaviors are a result of traumatic experiences.  So, our therapy programs offer a comprehensive approach to treatment, such as:

Our skilled treatment professionals understand that each person responds differently to recovery programs.  Our primary goal is to provide the highest level of treatment with an individualized approach.  In this way, our clients are more prepared to deal with the challenges of everyday life.   With trauma-informed addiction treatment, they gain the skills, confidence, and restored self-esteem necessary for confronting and overcoming those challenges.

When it comes to treating co-occurring disorders such as trauma and addiction, an inpatient or residential program is the most effective.  However, we also provide outpatient programs, partial hospitalization, or intensive outpatient programs (IOPs).  Also, at our Palmdale, CA facility, you’ll enjoy a comforting, secure environment where you can focus on healing.  

To learn more about our programs, contact us at the toll-free number provided.  One of our representatives is always available to answer your questions and assist you in choosing a treatment plan that is right for your needs.


  • drugabuse.gov – Drugs, Brains, and Behavior:  The Science of Addiction Treatment and Recovery
Veterans, Mental Health, and Combating the Stigma

Veterans, Mental Health, and Combating the Stigma

After fulfilling their duty to protect our American way of life, many veterans find themselves in an ongoing battle.  But, this is a battle that can’t be won with weapons.  It’s an invisible enemy that can strike when least expected, disrupting their entire life.  Family members also suffer negative effects from their loved one’s struggles.

The enemy that follows our veterans home is known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  It is a mental health issue that often goes untreated, leaving these individuals to struggle daily.  Their failure to seek treatment is due in part to the stigma surrounding military veterans and PTSD

Our veterans have earned the right to enjoy the post-military life they deserve.  So, we must find ways to combat the stigma that stands in their way.  We can start by putting away any preconceived beliefs we have about mental disorders.  Then, replace them with the facts below.

Ignore the Stigma and Learn the Facts 

The first step in helping veterans get help for PTSD is to ignore the stigma.  The next step is to learn the facts about veterans and mental health issues. 

Did you know less than one-half of veterans get the help they need?  This happens for many reasons.  But, stigma is often the primary barrier that keeps them from admitting that they’ve experienced symptoms of a mental disorder.  They keep quiet about it because they fear being labeled as “weak”, losing their job, or being rejected by society.  

The prevalence of PTSD among military veterans is higher than we realize.  For example, the Veterans Administration reports the following numbers of veterans who have experienced PTSD:

  • 20% of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans
  • 12% of Gulf War veterans 
  • 30% of Vietnam War veterans
  • 71% of female military personnel.  (About 17% of combat troops are women.)

Additional data about veterans and mental health disorders shows that 20 veterans commit suicide each day in the US.  

What Are the Effects of PTSD on Military Veterans?

PTSD is a psychobiological mental disorder.  It can affect combat survivors or people who experience terrorist attacks, deadly accidents, violent crime, natural disasters, or emotional loss.   These experiences are associated with changes in brain structure and functioning.  With some people, the symptoms are immediate, while with others the symptoms don’t emerge until months or years after the experience.

Each person reacts differently to stress and trauma.  But, the following effects are commonly experienced by military veterans who have PTSD:

  • Nightmares
  • Frightening thoughts
  • Flashbacks, panic disorders
  • Easily startled
  • A sense of being on-edge
  • Angry outbursts
  • Relationship problems
  • Trouble sleeping, fatigue
  • Memory issues, trouble concentrating
  • Feelings of guilt or blame, depression
  • Negativity about oneself or the world
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Suicidal ideations

It’s normal to experience some of the above immediately after a traumatic event.  However, if the effects persist beyond a month or two, professional help is the best option.  The affected person needs to learn skills for managing their symptoms.

Coping Methods Veterans Use to Avoid the Effects of PTSD

The symptoms and effects of PTSD are hard to manage at times.  Also, the way a person reacts to the symptoms can make them worse.  Before long, the person’s entire life has been disrupted.  

Some of the coping mechanisms used for avoiding symptoms of PTSD may include isolating from other people.  Avoiding places or things that prompt memories of the traumatic event leads to further isolation.  Many people become obsessed with work, exercise, or sex as a means of escape.  

The most common method for dealing with PTSD symptoms is to self-medicate with illicit drugs or alcohol.  In fact, more than 20% of veterans with PTSD struggle with substance use disorders.  Sadly, the substances amplify the negative feelings they are trying so hard to avoid.  

Furthermore, veterans are often prescribed addictive medications such as antidepressants to help alleviate their symptoms.  Many veterans are also prescribed addictive painkillers, sedatives, or stimulants.  Over time, their tolerance to the drugs increases and becomes an addiction.  

When someone has PTSD and a substance use disorder, they need treatment that will address both problems.  This is known as dual-diagnosis or co-occurring disorder treatment.  

Treatment for Veterans with Co-Occurring Disorders

The best treatment for co-occurring or dual-diagnosis disorders includes a combination of therapies that teach skills for managing symptoms and triggers.  Encouraging a person to talk about their fears, bad memories, and feelings of guilt or shame helps them look at their problems in a more realistic way.  Learning to use anger management skills, relaxation techniques, and communication skills are also valuable tools for controlling PTSD symptoms.

At Cycles of Change Recovery, we understand the complexities of both PTSD and substance use disorders.  Also, we know how the stigma surrounding veterans and mental health can lead a person to use addictive substances.  For those reasons, we offer a comprehensive program that includes various treatment options to address both disorders.  

Because each person responds to treatment in their own way, our program can be adapted to suit their unique needs and preferences.  With this approach, our clients get the highest level of care possible.  

Are you or a loved one struggling with PTSD and addiction?  If so, contact us today.  We’ll be happy to answer your questions about our program and recommend a treatment plan that is right for you.   


  • nimh.nih.gov/ – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • onceasoldier.org/ – U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Report: Veteran Suicide Rates by State
  • ptsd.va.gov/ – PTSD:  National Center for PTSD:  How Common is PTSD in Veterans?
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A Message to Our Community About COVID-19

We wanted to reach out to share an update.

We are very concerned about the COVID-19 virus and how the many changes it has caused are affecting our extended treatment community.

As of right now, Cycles of Change Residential is open and accepting clients.

Our Response to the Increased recommendations for Sanitary Measures Includes:

  • All facility staff have been vaccinated.
  • Increased sanitization of our facilities for infection control. We have increased cleaning and maintenance for a complete thorough wipe down of all facilities and common areas. The staff has been trained and instructed to perform continuous disinfection of surfaces and other areas where infection can be transmitted, i.e., doorknobs, light switches, etc.
  • Provide all necessary PPEs and equipped additional sanitary supplies including soap, hand sanitizers, antimicrobial wipes, and disinfectant sprays.
  • Posted informational signs on proper hand-washing techniques and hand sanitizing.
  • Implemented mandatory training for employees on hand-washing and hand sanitization.
  • Instituted screenings for visitors. Anyone deemed a possible risk to our clients or staff will not be allowed at the facility.
  • An additional screening process for potential admissions includes questions about symptoms, recent illnesses, travel overseas, and family or friends who have symptoms or traveled abroad.
  • Upon admission, All new clients will be provided FDA EUA approved COVID-19 antigen test, evaluated in person by our intake staff and have a physical screening by a medical professional within 24 hours to further reduce the possibility of the introduction of a virus into the treatment environment. We continue daily screenings for current clients to monitor their conditions closely.
  • Developed specific health and safety protocols for any clients presenting with flu-like symptoms, including emergency isolation protocols.
  • Temporarily postponed client outings (this includes outside meetings) – alternative & virtual options are being made available

We will continue to follow directives from the CDC for the next steps as to what precautions to take and how to evolve our treatment protocol. Our Clinical and Executive Teams are monitoring the situation closely and we are able to make necessary adjustments in real-time.










Joseph Hunter, CEO


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