Ice Breakers for Alcoholics and Addicts in Treatment


While having a solid support network is a crucial part of successful recovery program for drug or alcohol addiction, opening up to a group of strangers can be one of the hardest parts. It is important that the group have activities in place to encourage participants to get to know one another. These ice breaker activities should encourage conversation and the formation of friendships while also maintaining a sense of confidentiality and discretion, and keeping the feeling of the group “light”. They should, in other words, be fun and inclusive.

The following suggestions for ice breakers for alcoholics and addicts in treatment are only suggestions. You should adapt any idea to fit your group, its members, and its stated goals.

Theme Song

Ask everyone to work together or in teams to pick a tune (preferably one everyone is likely to be familiar with) and devise lyrics to go with it. If there is a musically talented individual in the group, you can ask him or her to provide instrumental accompaniment or just give everyone something to bang on to keep time. Can be performed before each meeting.

Fun Props

Pick up some cheap and goofy props to play with at the beginning of the evening. The sillier the better; this will loosen people up for the more somber discussions that come later in the meeting. Just be sure not to force anyone to play with them. They should be available but not mandatory. They can also be incorporated into the theme song for a compelling song and dance number.

Gift Basket

If one of the group can’t make it to a meeting or is sick or otherwise experiencing hardship, have everyone in the group contribute an item to a gift basket. The gifts should be small, and should be generic; that is, something anyone would like. But don’t forget to add personal touches, like handwritten notes.

Night Out

Take the group to a nice restaurant or a pizza place. Go somewhere with games. A change of scenery can help a group expand its viewpoint, and may encourage members who are typically reserved to open up and share more with the group. Be cognizant of potential triggers; don’t take a group of alcoholics in recovery to a bar, for example.

Guest Speakers

Less of an ice breaker for the group, having someone come in to give an uplifting talk or presentation will still provide a great point of discussion and debate. By keeping the mood light, the speaker will help everyone to feel upbeat, and if they can make it topical to the purpose of the group, you can use it to prompt conversation afterward.

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