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Taking the Escalator 

Substance Use Therapy Tools

Harm Reduction

12 Step Alternatives      Addiction and Substance Use Resource

      Non 12 Step Motivational Harm Reduction Tools for Substance Use & Mental Health

Taking the Escalator 


This page contains regular updates with brief group therapy modules, discussion points, icebreakers, . Unlike the  Group Activities by Topic page, the materials here are for shorter discussions, warm- ups and close outs as part of longer group sessions, as well as occasional articles and other resources from around the web

Past Taking the Escalator Forum Compilations:

FORUM ENTRIES - (Most recent/newest on top)

6/23/22 - Picture Discussion: "Leap of Faith"

As a group discuss the following picture and discuss what it means to you personally. How can you specifically apply this in your own life in a positive way?

6/18/22 - Discussion Module: "Family Functioning"

This is a brief group assessment and discussion on current family functioning. Go around the group and discuss how everyone is doing with regard to the following relationships in their life today. 

  • Parents
  • Children
  • Siblings
  • Extended Family

What knowledge, wisdom and skills have you developed for successfully managing family relationships? What works for you?

6/12/22 - "Morning Warrior" - Discussion Topic

Background: Something got you up and going this morning. It is great that you made it to this group. This is a brief discussion on getting motivated to face each day. Discuss the following questions as a group:

  • What gets you up and out of bed in the morning?
  • When you are struggling in the morning, how do you pull through?
  • What, if anything, do you do the night before to make the following morning easier?
  • Based on what you have heard in this group so far, what else can you do to increase your motivation to successfully get going in the morning?

6/6/22 - Interesting Discussion Topic - "Worst Job, Best Job, Dream Job"

Discuss the following questions as a group, one by one:

1. What was the WORST job you ever had and why?

2. What was the BEST job you ever had and why?

3. What would you consider to be your DREAM JOB, why?

6/1/22 - Icebreaker: "The Old Soul in Me"

Discussion: Even if you are not old (or even if you are) what is one thing that you do that is often associated with older people?


  • "I'm in my 20's but I love Bird Watching and Candle Making"
  • "I'm one of those people who wear a jacket outside even when its warm out, just like my grandparents"
  • "I still watch a lot of black and white movies"
  • "I enjoy writing in cursive"
  • "I wear slippers in the house 24/7"

What "old-soul" habits or hobbies do you have?

5/26/22 - Brief Outline for Discussing Violence in the Media

These are some basic questions for guiding group discussion when something tragic happens in the news:

Pick the event you will be discussing

1. What are your THOUGHTS about what happened?

  • RULES this part: 1) Keep it brief so everyone has time to share - 2) Keep it PERSONAL not POLITICAL 

2. What are your FEELINGS about what happened?

  • Use APPROPRIATE FEELING WORDS - Counselor may want to provide feeling chart

3. When you are not in this group, if you need to process this further: Where can you get more SUPPORT?

  • Counselor may want to prepare some local resources

4. Even when troubling things happen in the news we need to keep moving forward in our own lives. What skills will you use to COPE?

  • It may be helpful at this point to transfer into a group about COPING SKILLS

5/20/22 - Discussion: "I Can Relate"

Directions - This is a basic topic to generate some potentially interesting group discussion. Go around the group and have group members share about a person (real - dead or alive - or fictional) whom they can relate to and why. Examples provided to get group started

  • "I can relate to the main character from the movie Shawshank Redemption because I know what its like to patiently and persistently work towards a goal then to finally succeed"

  • "I can relate to Keanu Reeves because he is so down to earth and just wants to be a good person and not act like an entitled jerk like so many other people in the world do"

Discuss your own ideas

5/14/22 - Icebreaker: "Used to it!"

Its strange in life the things we can get accustomed too if we are exposed to a situation long enough. As an icebreaker, everyone in group is encouraged to share some things that they have gotten used to in life even if they were difficult at first. Some examples are provided to help get the group started:

  • "When I was growing up I absolutely hated getting up early but now with practice I have gotten used to being up every day at 5:30am even on weekends!"
  • "Since I have been more health conscious I have become accustomed to eating vegetables, which I used to hate"
  • "I used to go to concerts and get so high and drunk I would forget most what even happened, but I have since really learned to love and appreciate the show and the music with a sober and clear mind"

When done, as a group discuss this final question:

> What other positive and healthy things in life do you think that you could get accustomed too 

if you gave them enough time and practice?

5/9/22 - Fun Icebreaker: "What's the First Thing You'd Do If...."

Take turns answering the following amusing "what if" scenarios by completing the sentence:

What's the first thing you'd do if....

  • A billionaire handed you a credit card and said go out and buy anything you want
  • The president called you and said you can do anything you want today and you will be legally pardoned
  • You woke up with the opportunity to trade lives with one person in the world for the next 24 hours
  • If you got hired for your dream job
  • You could snap your fingers and change one thing for good

5/3/22 - Discussion: "Eye Openers"

There are moments in life that serve as "eye openers" in the sense that they suddenly get us to view the world in a completely different way. These can be big, life changing moments at times but at other times these unique experiences pop up in strange and unexpected ways. Consider some examples below:

" I always aced my way through school my whole life until graduation, then the first time I went to college and got a bad grade because the work was just too hard for me, it was like a smack in the face that I could no longer breeze by without trying too hard any more"

"For the first half of my life I thought that people who got addicted were weak until one day in my 50's I had surgery and got hooked on pain pills and now I see the real struggle involved"

"I dumped or cheated on everyone I dated for years until one day I got really attached to someone who ended up suddenly dumping me for someone else and it crushed me and I have a new perspective on how I treated other people in my past"

AS A GROUP:  Share some of your own "Eye Opener" moments

4/27/22 - Group Discussion: "Gratitude Moment: I Thought I Would Never But I Did!"

For this brief group exercise, everyone in the group should share at least one positive life achievement that has exceeded past expectations. This would be something that you may have never imagined you would do, but you have now done (Positive answers only)

  • Example - "I never ever thought I would speak in front of a crowd but now I have told my story to a room of dozens of people"

When everyone has shared, an additional follow up question is:

What is one more thing that you want to achieve in your future that exceeds your past expectations?

  • Example - "One day I want to publish my own original book" 

​4/21/22 - Icebreaker – “Against the Grain”

As you know, to "go against the grain" means to choose a path that does not go with the flow of society. This icebreaker is about innocent* ways that we all go against the grain in our own unique way

*The only rule is to keep discussion innocent (harmless) and light. This is not an opportunity to brag about behaviors that would be considered dangerous, aggressive illegal or “anti-social


  • “I put ketchup on my hot dogs and my steak even though most of society frowns upon that”

  • “Most people work out in the morning but I don’t start my exercise routine until about 10:00 at night"

Share and discuss your own unique ways of going against the grain