ACT for Life Group

A 16-group program to decrease addictive behaviors and increase values-based living


Group Basics

Act for Life (AFL) is a group therapy treatment for substance use or co-occurring substance use and mental health difficulties and is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).  The group includes both didactic and experiential interventions as well as skills training such as managing cravings, refusal skills, and relapse prevention, among others.  These interventions are designed to improve understanding of how problematic substance use develops and is sustained within each person based their unique experiences, thoughts, and feelings and to provide strategies and skills to effectively manage or avoid substance use (abstinence).  As such, the group is appropriate for people seeking a harm reduction or abstinence based approach to recovery. Please see the AFL group brochure here.

Who is Eligible:

Adults aged 18 years or older struggling with substance use or co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.


Who may not be a good fit:

  • Individuals who are actively experiencing severe mood instability or psychosis, or who have other symptoms that may not be conducive to learning in a group environment.

  • Substance use or other symptoms that requires inpatient detox, residential treatment, or other higher levels of care.

Group details:

Format: ACT for Life is a 16-week group intervention (approximately 4-5 months considering holidays or possible cancellations) divided into 4 modules.  All modules target each of the 6 ACT core processes (e.g., defusion, acceptance, present moment awareness, etc.) with each individual module targeting one of these processes in greater depth. Each module is comprised of 4 group sessions (1 session weekly).  Each group session lasts 2 hours and is comprised of 110 minutes of group therapy with a 10-minute break.


Structure: Group starts with a brief mindfulness exercise to help us disengage from the commotion of the day and shift to being present in group.  We do a brief check-in to offer the opportunity to share thoughts and experiences and to re-orient to chosen values and goals.  We review the discussion and homework from the previous the group and then introduce new material and discussion.  Lastly, group members will be asked to apply the new information and/or skills over the upcoming week and process upon return to the next group session.


Group Entry/Exit: The full group intervention is 16 sessions, and group members are asked to commit to at least 4 groups (which is one module of the full 4 module intervention).  Upon completion of a module, participants can choose if they would like to stay for the next module.  AFL is a “partially open” group, which means that new members may enter and exit at the beginning of each new module (every 4- 5 weeks).


How to Join

Step 1 - Contact Daniel Merwin to discuss interest and general fit for the group.


Step 2 – Schedule an assessment and complete your portion of the group paperwork.  The paperwork will include a values worksheet to assist you in identifying, clarifying, and choosing your goals for group.


Step 3 - Complete a 45-50 minute intake assessment with the group leader.


Step 4 - If the group is good fit and you are interested in joining, you will be given a start date to join at the beginning of the next module.

*sliding scale group spots are available on a first come, first served basis. Email us ( to determine whether sliding scale spots are currently available and what your sliding scale rate would be if you qualify.

Learn more about the Act for Life Group

5726 Fayetteville Rd

Suite 101

Durham, NC 27713

Phone:  919-237-3321


Fax: 919-287-2829