Breaking the Cycle of Addiction: An Eight Week Curriculum for Working with Adult Alcoholics

A downloadable version of the article can be read: Breaking the Cycle of Addiction: An Eight Week Curriculum for Working with Adult Alcoholics


Breaking the Cycle of Addiction presents an eight week curriculum for working with alcoholics. The curriculum brings together experts in the various systems that the member is a part. To make the group as effective as possible it contains; accountability groups, the pharmacology of addiction, family roles, coping life and empathy skills, a victims panel, a social justice outreach to juveniles program, and a focus on life after the group.

Group Purpose and Dynamics

Breaking the Cycle of Addiction (BCA) is an organization intent on aiding alcoholics in recovery alcoholics though promoting healthy living and empowering them by providing skills and knowledge. BCA created a curriculum which effectively looks at the various systems that affect the clients. The group is facilitated by Jacob Campbell, who brings in experts for the different days activities.

Individuals that desire to attend BCA groups need to go though a short interview process. The interview process is to discuss the applicants expected participation in the group, cost, and confidentiality of the group. For the program to work, the participant must desire move past their alcoholism. The group itself contains 10-14 male of female participants. The group is closed asking each member to complete the entire eight weeks and disallowing new members. Each of the eight sessions last two hours, and progresses the group members in a logical order. This logical order follows the process laid out in empowerment theory.

Hipilito-Delgado and Lee (2007) depict empowerment theory as three separate elements that move in a sequential pattern for restoration. The first element is the individual gaining a critical consciousness in which the participant gains awareness. This consciousness affects the members gain recognition of their addiction, desire to break the addiction, and grasp the fact that they are not alone. Each of these characteristics are included in the curriculum. The members connection with other individuals with similar struggles often acts as the most powerful aspect of this. The second element is constructing a positive identity. Those with addictions often have negative self perceptions and perceptions of the world. The curriculum is designed to empower the participant to learn a new identity though training, teaching, skill building, and the discussions. The third element moves from micro and mezzo skills to macro skills by having the affiliate partake in social justice. To give the group an avenue of reaching out, they work with a group of juveniles who have been charged with a variety of alcohol related charges.


Each of the week’s curricula matures from one week to the next in a logical order giving the participant the ability to effectively break their cycle of addiction. The assortment of curricula is presented by experts in the field. The curriculum is different each week, but also addresses consistent themes and activities.

Week 1: Introduction, Goals & Accountability Groups
Week 2: Pharmacology of Addiction
Week 3: Family Roles
Week 4: Coping & Life Skills
Week 5: Learning to put Yourself in Others Shoes
Week 6: Victims Panel
Week 7: Juvenile Outreach
Week 8: “Where do I go From Here?”

_Week one _is a time for the members to become introduced to the group, to talk about the group’s purpose, and activities. It is also an introduction into creating goals. Goals are taught using the SMART method. The first week also addresses the accountability groups that will be used every week. During every meeting the large group will break up into a small group of two or three members. During the small group discussions they will be asked about their goals, recovery issues, and keeping up with sobriety.

Week two, the pharmacology of addiction is a presentation and discussion about bio-psycho-social effects of addiction. Week three focus’s on family roles, and the described family roles of dysfunctional families. This session’s deliberate heart is for the members to look both into their past family history, and current family situation. The self evaluative aspect of this week causes the members to see their identity in a new way. The roles that are described are; scapegoat, hero, lost child, and mascot.

Weeks four and five both are skill teaching days. Week four, coping & life skills concentrates on internal thinking skills and external coping mechanisms. During week three the participants are given a reflection activity to be accomplished prior to the next weeks meeting. Attachment number one is the reflection form used. During the session participants dialog regarding the importance of thinking about their thinking, and skills to improve their thought life. Coping skills are presented as a tool belt. Each method used to cope with assorted aspects of the members life is described as a tool in their tool belt. These tools can be negative skills such as anger, drinking… etc. They can also be positive skills, such as talking about problems, exercise… etc. Week five, learning to put yourself in others shoes, teaches empathy skills.

Learning these empathy skills positions the participant to be prepared for week six. Week six brings in a victims panel to talk about individuals stories. Le (2003) in discussing victim’s panels states that research looking into the effectiveness of victims panels has been mixed. Regardless of this fact, there is a lot of evidence backing up the use of victims panels. This week also tends to be one of our heaver sessions and a longer debriefing stage.

Week seven is the juvenile outreach and the social justice portion of the program. After presenting and talking with the juveniles, the group moves into the final week. Week eight, “Where do I go From Here?” wraps up the group. Its focus is discussing how the members can keep their sobriety after the group is finished. This will also be a time that the members of the group will have the opportunity to discuss the effectiveness and satisfaction levels of the group process.

Attachment number two is a sample of the advertisements that BCA has published and distributed to multiple agencies. Attachment number three provides in detail an outline of the eight week curriculum.


Hipilito-Delgado, C., & Lee, C. (2007). Empowerment theory for the professional school counselor: A manifesto for what really matters. Professional School Counseling, 10(4), 327-332.

Le, C. P. (2003, November 14). Confronting drunken drivers: Effectiveness of victim panels is debated. Seattle Post – Intelligencer, pp. A 1.

Attachment Number One

You can download Attachment number one

Attachment Number Two

You can download Attachment number two

Attachment Number Three

You can download Attachment number three