Each part of the recovery provides new challenges and obstacles. No part is easy, but understanding the purpose of each different phase – as well as what one can expect to see and do within different kinds of treatment – can help ease the transition between each part of recovery. For those moving to an intensive outpatient program from residential or inpatient treatment, there will be a lot of changes and decisions to make on a daily basis. But this is a good thing, and a reward for the progress that one has already made.
Understanding the Residential Phase of Recovery
Knowing how an intensive outpatient program will assist in the next step of recovery involves understanding what the residential phase was like as well – and then how the two parts work in tandem. The residential/inpatient phase involves a tightly-curated, safe environment for someone to experiment with various means of recovery. It is a place where someone can really begin to explore vulnerability and acceptance, while learning techniques and life skills that will help them cope in real life. Schedules are made up and adhered to, and each serves a particular function – from varying therapies to group sessions to designated hobby time. Lastly, residential/inpatient treatment is a place that first begins to instill the importance of a supportive community and understanding one’s own support systems and methods of using support as a whole.
How IOP is Different
The first thing to note when moving to an intensive outpatient program is that much of the structure that was provided during residential is now at the control of the person themselves. It falls on the patient to use their education to maintain their own safe environment, and create and adhere to their own schedule. This all leads to a sense of earned freedom in recovery, but also creates its own challenges.
Creating a Balanced Environment
As mentioned before, one is now living at their own home rather than a curated residential environment. While this allows one to be in a more personal, comfortable place, it also contains risks. This comfort can easily remind someone of their past and thus could be riddled with potential triggers from past connections. The education about triggers is highly important here to identify what may be a trigger, what things might be good or bad to keep around, and how to balance one’s own environment when it is up to them.
Residential treatment runs on a tight schedule, dedicating a set amount of time to various activities and free time all with therapeutic goals behind them. Intensive outpatient programs will have multiple meetings a week for group and individual therapy – outside of that, it falls on the patient to create and balance their own lives outside of these sessions. This is an opportunity to rebuild and refocus what therapies have worked for the individual. Having more time for diving into new hobbies or more time for meditation is all up to the patient. They get to decide what is going to be best for them in their own recovery. However, it is still as important as ever to create and maintain a schedule. Structure is a strategy that is effective at all phases of recovery.
Staying Connected With Communities
Being out in the “real world” involves meeting with a number of new people each day. While group sessions will provide a stable sense of community a few times a week, staying connected is still up to the patient. People will be able to make their own social circles with friends new and old. Therefore, being prepared with coping mechanisms and having the ability to say “no” when something seems to be high-risk is even more important.
Each change involves a bit more agency, but in the hands of the individuals themselves. Yet each step is also a reward for proving success and progress along the long path towards a healthy life. There will be changes moving through this step as goals are adapted to the real world, and education paves the way for realistic practice. Yet it is all necessary change for the positive, no matter how difficult it may seem to manage at the time. There will be more triggers and risks that come with more freedoms. Outpatient programs are there to balance these new freedoms and the stresses of change they bring with a continued motivation and feelings of success.
The communities and strategies established in residential and inpatient treatments are still pertinent, but being prepared to raise one’s own voice with the education learned will be put to the test. Outpatient is there to support this process, ensuring that someone is never left without a supportive community and never feels isolated when facing the coming changes.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, Lighthouse Recovery is here to help. Providing a new take on sober living and intensive outpatient therapy, Lighthouse understands the unique trials that come with each phase of recovery. Our caring, professional staff is here to help and guide you through the process. Outpatient care is a difficult step to take as you begin to synthesize the education and practical implementation of all the strategies learned. Lighthouse will be there for you every step of the way.