TAKING THE ESCALATOR: An Alternative to the 12 Steps
Group Therapy Tools that Work
Harm Reduction & Motivation for Overcoming Heroin & Other Drugs
Non 12 Step Motivational Tools for Substance Use & Mental Health

    Free Addiction Resources  

Taking the Escalator Toolsharing Database

Taking the Escalator Counseling Tools


Chapters 1 - 4: Essential Background Information

Floor One Managing the Escalator

Escalator First Floor: Finding Your Way through the Escalator

Helpers - Identifying who is out there to help you with the change process

Assessing Your Change Initiative - Getting started learning about insight, internal motivation and external motivation


Building Strengths for Motivation and Insight


Escalator Second Floor: Acknowledge and Reinforce Strengths


Simple Insight Inventory - Strengthening existing insight to build motivation

Simple Insight Inventory II - (External/Support) - Working on external motivators and supports
The Insight GameWho knows the group?

Pick a Card  - A variety of questions for insightful discussion

Accept-Cope-Adapt - An approach for dealing with life struggles


Dissecting the Heart - Enhanced internal motivation building


External Motivation - Looking at what pushes us to change and ways to increase support
Support Report  - Assessing and maximizing exisiting potential support system

Healthy Families - Looking at positive family qualities

Family Match Game - An icebreaker discussion for multii-family therapy group


Escalator Third Floor: Enhancing Areas of Need

Enhancing Insight -

Taking a Trip to the Other Side - Again exploring insight and motivation building from new perspectives
Change Analysis - Examining the actual, the real and the ideal
Point of View Adjustment - Looking at other viewpoints to gain awareness
Shielding - Looking at how we may try to protect ourselves from incomfortable realities
A Journey Through Change - Looking at change from various perspectives

Enhancing Internal Motivation -

Flammable Areas - Early stage insight and motivation building
Decreasing the Negative & Increasing the Positive - (Love the Good, Hate the Bad)

Enhancing External Motivation and Support -

Goal Setting - Using goals to build motivation
Support Zones & Interpersonal Boundaries - Stepping outside of your comfort zone to build support

The Pendulum - Examining Common Family Issues - Examining some common family challenges


Escalator Fourth Floor: Overcoming Obstacles

Obstacle Course - (Start Here) - This initial activity helps you identify which obstacles to work on below:


Escalator Fifth Floor: Global Challenges

Associations - Honestly considering how your choice of associations affect you

Coping with Cravings - An essential list of tools for understanding and managing cravings and urges
Decision-Making and Ethics - Examining what is behind making the right choices

Ethical Decision-Making 2 - Using insight and ethics to make tough choices

Responsibility Road - Looking at the critical concept of increasing responsibility

 Making the Right Choice - Another look at making decisions starting from good solutions

Powerlessness and Willpower - Looking beyond powerlessness to examine where we can build willpower

Managing the Mind:

Thoughts and Feelings - Gaining an improved understanding how our thoughts and feelings affect us

Dealing with Feelings  -  Coping with feelings from three viewpoints

The IDEA Technique - A tool for coping with challenging thoughts and feelings
Guilt and Shame - Understanding and learning to cope with these challenging feelings

Guilt and Relationships - Coping with the challenges of guilt in relationships

Maintaining a Balanced Ego - Looking at a balanced view of self

 The Truth about Self Esteem - An in depth look at Self Esteem from a realistic perspective

 Self Esteem II  - More self esteem, continued...

Coexisting Mental Heath Issues - A checklist for starting to look at mental health


Relationship Radar - Adjusting the way you choose relationships
The Ideal Partner - Looking at what you want out of relationships


Escalator Sixth Floor: Managing and Avoiding Setbacks

Getting Over the Hump  - An activity for those who have been at this a long time

The Setback-Motivation Guide - Start here to determine what areas you need to work on below:


Escalator Seventh Floor: Supplemental Suggestions and Considerations

Check In - A basic tool for checking in where you are today

FOR ADOLESCENTS:  RISK FACTORS  - Exploring risk factors for substance use issues with young people

Spirituality - Gaining a basic understanding of spirituality regardless of how or what you believe
Taking the Escalator

Additional Submissions by Taking the Escalator

Social Media Icebreaker - Exercise for self expression based on social media

Cross Addiction - Education and exercise on substituting addictive behaviors
Grading the Group -  Interactive group report card
Coping with Stress - A comprehensive list of effective coping skills 
Holiday Survival Plan - Planning ahead to get through any holiday without setbacks or relapse -  
How High was I..How Low did I Go?    Assessing highs and lows of getting high 
GIVING ACTIVITY  There is more happiness in giving than receiving - interactive group exercise
Coping with Death and Dying  - A simple outline for discussing coping with a recent loss without abusing substances
Grab Bag - A great list of interesting, questions and other situations to get people talking

Group Member Fill In the Blank  - A great exercise to have fun and make group interactive

Labels - For lower insight levels, comparing what is using, abusing and addiction
Progress Report - Basic progress report worksheet for getting relevant discussion started
Rules of "Fighting Fairly" - Some basic rules for conflict resolution in families
Strengths and Weaknesses Examining strengths we need to change and weaknesses we need to work on in the change process
Slips of Paper - A quick and easy icebreaker that gets a group talking with no prep time
Unique - Discussing what you would and wouldnt do
Why am I Here? - Getting honest about the real reasons for coming to treatment

Lifeboat Activity - Lifeboat exercises are nothing new but this one has had good success

Care or Don't Care Icebreaker - Another basic tool for starting group discussion

Majority - Interactive exercise, better for an established group than a new one

Insecurity - Everyone has them, is the group ready to share them? If so, try this one
Understanding and Coping with Guilt and Shame -  Similar to the other but in a different format

COD - Co Occurring Disorders - An older outline about COD's and addiction some people (LH) still like to use (Updated version on About page)

Anger Discussion Sentence Completion - Simple questions for opening up discussion on anger

Choose or Lose Icebreaker   - Some basic multiple choice questions for opening up discussion
Adolescent Substance Use  - A basic educational outline for those working with adolescents and parents
The Disease Concept of Addiction - Review of "symptoms" of addiction
Smoking Cessation Specific Worksheets:

 Submitted by Lesley SanFilippo, LCSW:   


      Happiness Factor -  


  Submitted by Caitlin Kennedy LCSW, LCADC:

       Grief and Loss Cycle 


       Music and Recovery  


       Power and Control


       Self Awareness


       Self Esteem and Affirmation Development


  Submitted by Laura Hennessey, LCSW. LCADC


       Self Value