In addiction recovery, Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is an important step. When moving from residential to an IOP, someone can see the most drastic changes in their daily life. It is a time when someone in recovery is granted more freedom than residential treatment but also exposes themselves to more potential risks.
It is a time for someone to put into action all of their coping mechanisms, life and social skills, and decision-making skills. These freedoms should be treasured, but they don’t indicate that someone is “cured” and able to go about their lives like normal. It is necessary to balance one’s recovery in an IOP with their newfound freedoms.
Balancing one’s life in recovery is by no means a mathematical problem. Each person creates their own schedule and devotes different amounts of time to different activities depending on their own interests and needs. Balancing life in recovery, then, is the ability to acknowledge and address all of these necessary components, even if at different intensities.
Intensive Outpatient Programs Still Take Time
IOPs still require a good amount of time commitment. This is to ensure that the transitionary period can be smooth, rather than leaving someone in recovery out on their own all of a sudden. During an IOP, you can expect to attend group sessions a few times a week, and for a couple of hours each session. Prioritizing these times amongst the newfound freedom should be the priority.
There are many triggers as someone moves out into an environment that is not necessarily curated for curtailing triggers or supporting recovery. These group sessions are often offered at a number of different times—both in the mornings or evenings—in order for people to best schedule their days. Because of this, using the IOP times as an anchor to schedule the rest of your day around can be beneficial for recovery and structure.
Beginning Professional Life
Starting an IOP can also help you begin your journey back into the professional world. While some people will have a good idea of the career path that they want to take, others will be more open to seeking new employment opportunities. Having a consistent work schedule can help you balance your life, as well as inform your availability for group sessions.
While certain occupations may have a fluctuating schedule, such as retail, it is possible to find a job where you can schedule out your time not just days, but weeks in advance. This is helpful for providing the much-needed structure in life, as well as taking away the chances for surprises in your day.
Group therapy sessions provide a great social outlet for people with similar mindsets and goals. However, it is also important for people in recovery to engage in other activities, and begin reaching into other fields of interest while they pursue their new identities. They can take time to try new things, from attending sporting events to going to a big movie premiere.
Devoting a certain amount of time for social gatherings not only helps patients find new places to belong and interact with people, but provides them with the opportunity to practice newly developed social skills, outside of a recovery environment. Devoting this time now, while still attending group therapy sessions multiple times a week, allows for experimentation while still having a functioning, trusted safety net in place.
Taking care of one’s self is important regardless of the phase of recovery, the addiction, or mental health disorder. Self-care is an essential part of coping with the daily stresses of life in general. Scheduling in time for one’s self is important as it can ensure that you actually take the time to do it.
It can be easy, with all of the other changes going on in your life, to forget to take this time or to only take the time reactively after emotions or difficulties have caught up with you. Self-care will always be important, and balancing your life to be proactive about it can help mitigate the intensity of urges that will be present, or other triggers that may arise.
Having your own uninterrupted time to look forward to, can keep you motivated to achieve your goals on a personal level. There are many factors that you need to take into account with the newfound freedoms you have while attending an IOP.
Many of the skills needed for a successful recovery have already been instilled or are continuing to be practiced during group sessions. However, with freedom comes responsibility. Your recovery is even more in your own hands, and it is up to you to create your own schedule and lay the groundwork for your continued sobriety.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction or its co-occurring mental health disorders, Lighthouse Recovery Texas is ready to help. By developing the necessary life skills during IOP programs, each individual has the chance to balance their own lives while also continuing their care with trained professionals. IOPs are a time of change and a sign of healing. Working alongside caring staff can help individuals with their newfound sober life while they continue to receive the ongoing treatment needed to deal with the trials of reintegration.