Activities for relapse prevention groups

Written by kyra sheahan
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Activities for relapse prevention groups
Relapse prevention activities help individuals leave old habits in the past. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Just because you break an addiction does not mean that you have fully recovered from it. Many people find it challenging to stay on the right path and exert self-control when it comes to old, unhealthy habits. Relapse prevention groups exist to help individuals in recovery stay clean, sober and focused so they avoid relapsing. The activities facilitated by relapse prevention groups help members practice making positive choices in their lives.

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Discussion Activities

Many relapse prevention group facilitators begin group sessions with discussion activities, wherein the group facilitator introduces a topic such as "how to deal with a problem" and asks members of the group to share their opinions and thoughts about the subject. Discussion activities also involve making lists or answering questions on handouts. For instance, the facilitator may ask group members to list the reasons people relapse, recording the list on the board for everyone to see. Or a handout may contain questions for group members to answer, such as, "What is denial?"


Role-playing activities give group members the chance to act out potential real-life scenarios. The activity gives them practice in what to do when such situations arise. One such role-playing exercise has one group member play the person in recovery and another play a friend who is trying to persuade the other person to gamble, drink or use drugs. Acting out the scene can help both participants and audience experience peer pressure to fall back to their old habits. The exercise aims to teach individuals how to stay strong in enticing or intimidating situations.


Journaling requires individuals to write down their own thoughts on a particular subject given by the facilitator. In a relapse prevention group, topics may include "I feel like relapsing when ... " or "I don't want to relapse because ... " Group members receive pieces of paper and pens, along with instructions to write their responses to the journal question privately. At the end of the activity, the facilitator may ask people to volunteer to share what they wrote.

Positive Words

Positive words activities can prove effective for closing a relapse prevention group meeting. For this activity, group members go around the room and say something positive about each person in the circle. Positive words should be encouraging, inspiring, genuine and comforting. This activity provides everyone in the relapse prevention group with recognition from their peers for having a successful recovery.

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