Social Support Group Topics that Address Key Concepts in Recovery

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Aging
How do you view the aging process? What negative aspects do you see? What positive developments come with age?
How does getting older affect your staying abstinent and in recovery?
Is this your first time in recovery? If not, have you approached recovery differently this time?
As you grow older, is it important for you to find a 12-Step meeting or mutual-help group that has people your own age?
As you spend more time in recovery, how will you keep your recovery strong?
Source: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Counselor's Treatment Manual: Matrix Intensive Outpatient Treatment for People With Stimulant Use Disorders, 2007
Social Support Group Topics that Address Key Concepts in Recovery
Anger
How do you feel about the way you
handle your anger?
How do you feel when anger is directed at you?
Is anger a relapse trigger for you? In what ways?
What strategies or behaviors help you cope with anger?
How do you avoid being passive– aggressive when someone angers you?
Co- dependence
How do you understand the concept of
codependence?
With whom do you have codependent relationships?
How do these relationships affect your
recovery?
During recovery, what changes have
you made to address codependent relationships?
What strategies and techniques will you
use to avoid codependence in the future?
Commitment
What does commitment mean to your
What people or things have you been
committed to in the past? What are you
committed to now?
How important is the commitment of
family and friends to your recovery?
How important is your commitment to
friends and fellow clients who are in
How will you maintain your commitment
to recovery?
Compulsions
What have you done to avoid transferring
your substance dependence to other
compulsive behaviors?
To what compulsive behaviors are you
vulnerable?
Are all compulsive behaviors bad?
How has being in recovery helped you get your life under control?
What can you do to avoid abstinence
violation syndrome?
Control
How do you distinguish between things
that you can control and things you cannot?
How do you respond to things you cannot
control?
How has attending 12-Step or mutual-help meetings helped you address these issues?
What actions do you take to achieve
balance and inner calm in your life?
What aspects of your life do you still need
to change to remain abstinent and in
Cravings
Do you still experience cravings for substances? How have the cravings changed since you’ve been in recovery?
Do you feel as if your recovery is in
jeopardy because of cravings? Why or why not?
When are you aware of cravings?
What changes have you made to reduce
cravings?
use to keep cravings under control?
Depression
Is depression a trigger for you? How do
you recognize that you’re depressed?
How have your feelings of depression
changed as you’ve been in treatment and
What people, events, and feelings
contribute to your depression?
How do you respond when you recognize
that you are depressed?
What strategies and techniques help
you avoid becoming depressed? What
strategies and techniques help you get
over depression?
Emotions
Do certain emotions act as triggers for
you? Which emotions?
How has the process of recovery helped
you become more aware of your
emotions?
How do you cope with dangerous emotions, such as loneliness, anger, and
feelings of deprivation?
During recovery, what have you learned
about separating emotions from behavior?
What strategies and techniques help you
maintain an emotional balance?
Fear
When you entered treatment, what
aspects of recovery were you afraid of?
Have your fears about recovery changed
since you’ve been in treatment?
What helped you move past your fear?
What things concern you when you think
about leaving treatment?
As you move forward with your recovery,
what strategies and techniques will help
you minimize your fears?
Friendship
How has your understanding of friendship
changed since you’ve been in treatment?
Before you entered treatment, what were
your friendships based on?
Now, what qualities do you look for in a
friend?
What has being a friend to others contributed to your recovery?
What plans do you have for making new,
supportive friends and maintaining current friendships?
Fun
How have your fun and relaxing activities
What do you do now to have fun and
relax?
With whom do you have fun?
What role does having fun play in staying
abstinent and in your recovery?
How will you incorporate new activities
and hobbies into your life?
Grief
What experience have you had with grief?
Is grief a trigger for you? In what ways?
How has the way you cope with grief
changed since you’ve been in recovery?
How do you cope with feelings of grief
now?
To whom do you turn when you experience grief?
What strategies or techniques do you use
to keep grief from disrupting your recovery?
Guilt
How is guilt different from shame?
Can guilt be a positive factor in your
recovery? In what ways?
How can guilt derail your recovery?
What can you do to reduce the guilt you
feel?
What role has taking responsibility for
past actions played in your recovery?
Happiness
Since you’ve been in treatment, when
have you been happy? What made you
happy?
Since you’ve been in treatment, how has
what makes you happy changed?
Do you feel that happiness is essential to
your recovery? Why or why not?
How have friendships helped you be
What strategies or techniques can you
use to help you through unhappy times?
Honesty
How important is honesty to your staying
abstinent and in recovery?
In treatment, how have you learned to be honest with yourself?
In treatment, how have you learned to be honest with others, especially family and friends?
How does honesty relate to your self-esteem?
What strategies or techniques will you use to continue being honest in your recovery?
Intimacy
your understanding of intimacy changed?
What concerns or fears do you have
about intimacy?
Does sex function as a trigger for you? In
what ways?
What do you look for in an intimate,
caring relationship?
In what ways can intimate relationships
support your recovery?
Isolation
Are free time and being alone triggers for
you? In what ways?
How was feeling isolated related to your
substance abuse?
In what ways has scheduling activities
helped you avoid isolation?
How has attending 12-Step or mutual-help meetings helped you avoid isolation?
What activities can you pursue on your
own that will help keep you from isolation?
Justifications
What relapse justifications are you vulnerable to?
What emotions make you more likely to
try to justify a relapse?
What are the dangers of assuming that
your substance dependence is under
How is being smart important to your
staying abstinent and in recovery?
In treatment, what strategies or techniques have you learned to help counter relapse justifications?
Masks
How do you use masks to hide the way
you feel, presenting yourself as feeling
one way when you really feel another?
In what circumstances do you mask your
feelings?
How has the masking of your feelings
How does masking your true feelings
affect your recovery?
How is being honest with yourself and
others important to your recovery?
Overwhelmed
What contributes to your feeling
overwhelmed?
How does feeling overwhelmed affect
your behavior?
How has your response to being overwhelmed changed since you’ve been in treatment?
What risk does feeling overwhelmed pose
to your recovery?
What can you do to ensure that you do
not feel overwhelmed?
Patience
How has patience helped you in your
When is it hard for you to be patient?
Are there situations in which you can be
too patient? What are they? Why can it be bad to be too patient?
How has attending 12-Step or mutual-help meetings helped you be more patient?
What strategies and techniques have you
learned to help you be more patient?
Physical
How is your recovery related to your self-esteem?
During recovery, how has your body
changed?
What new exercise or activity have you
begun since entering treatment?
How have you begun to take better care
of your health?
Why is it important to stay healthy to keep your recovery on track?
Recovery
Has your motivation for recovery changed since you’ve been in treatment? In what ways?
What has been your biggest challenge in
recovery so far? Your biggest triumph?
From whom do you draw inspiration and
encouragement in your recovery? Do you
have a recovering role model?
How has attending 12-Step or mutual-help meetings helped you in your recovery?
As you move forward with recovery, what
are the most important aspects for you to
focus on?
Rejection
Did feeling rejected contribute to your
substance abuse? In what ways?
How have the ways you cope with rejection changed since you’ve been in treatment?
How has support from friends and family
helped you cope with rejection?
As you make amends and repair relationships, some people may refuse to forgive you. How will you cope with this rejection?
use to address rejection as you go forward with your recovery?
Relaxation
How have the things you do to relax
Are leisure and downtime triggers for
you?
How have you managed to separate
relaxing from substance abuse?
Do you prefer to relax alone or with
friends and family? Why?
How have you used scheduling and
islands of enjoyment to help you relax and keep your recovery on track?
Rules
How do you respond to rules in general?
How have you responded to the rules
you’ve encountered in treatment?
What rules do you impose on yourself?
How do you balance the structure that
rules provide with the need to relax and
enjoy yourself?
How have the guidelines of 12-Step or
mutual-help programs supported your
abstinence and recovery?
What rules will be important for you as
you move forward with your recovery?
Scheduling
In what ways have you used scheduling
during your recovery? How has it helped
Do you use scheduling all the time or only once in a while? At what times do you find it is helpful to use scheduling?
What makes scheduling difficult for you?
How have friends and family supported
your use of scheduling?
Do you think you will continue to use
scheduling after you leave treatment?
Why or why not?
Selfishness
In what ways did selfishness contribute to your substance dependence?
Are there times when it is a good idea to
be selfish? What are they?
How can selfishness be harmful to your
How have family and friends helped you
become less selfish? How have 12-Step
or mutual-help programs helped you
become less selfish?
Do you think it is selfish to take time alone for exercising, relaxing, meditating, or writing in a diary? Why or why not?
Sex
Is sex a trigger for you? In what ways?
What distinguishes impulsive sex from
intimate sex?
How can impulsive sex lead to relapse?
How can an intimate relationship help
What will you do to encourage healthy,
intimate relationships in your life?
Smart
Why is sheer willpower not enough to
help you stay abstinent and in recovery?
How is being smart part of having a
strong recovery?
How has anticipating situations in which
you would be prone to relapse helped you stay abstinent and in recovery?
When have you tried to be strong, instead of smart? What were the results?
use to be smart as you go forward with
your recovery?
Spirituality
How would you define spirituality? Has
that definition changed as a result of
being in treatment?
Why is it important for your recovery to
have a spiritual component?
How has attending 12-Step or mutual-help group meetings helped you stay abstinent and in recovery?
What qualities are important to you in
choosing a 12-Step or mutual-help group
to attend?
Aside from attending meetings, what other spiritual elements have you incorporated into your life during recovery? Will you continue these practices?
Thought Stopping
How has thought stopping helped you
cope with cravings to use? Give some
specific examples.
Which thought-stopping techniques are
most effective for you? Why?
What do you visualize when you use
thought-stopping techniques?
Do you feel that you are more in control
of your thoughts now than you were when you entered treatment? Why or why not?
What role will thought stopping play in
your recovery after you leave treatment?
Triggers
What triggers do you still encounter in
your daily life?
Are there triggers you cannot avoid? How
do you cope with those triggers?
How has charting your external and
internal triggers helped strengthen your
cope with triggers?
What strategies and techniques have
helped you stop triggers you encounter
from becoming cravings for substances?
Trust
How has lack of trust damaged relationships in your life?
Why is it important for your recovery that
your friends, family, and others be able to trust you?
In addition to staying abstinent, what can
you do to earn back people’s trust?
If people are slow to trust that you are
abstinent and in recovery, how will you
respond? What will you do if trust never
returns to some relationships?
How has placing your trust in fellow treatment group members and 12-Step or mutual-help group members helped your recovery?
Work
How has your work life affected your
recovery? Have there been positive
effects? Negative effects?
What steps have you taken to balance
work with recovery? Have they been
successful?
How has the balance of work and recovery changed since you’ve progressed in recovery?
Have you considered leaving your job?
What are the potential pitfalls of doing
this? What are the benefits?
Aside from the money, what do you find
rewarding about your work?