For someone moving from an inpatient or residential treatment to an intensive outpatient program (IOP), there are a lot of changes to look forward to. Getting back to living at one’s own residence or with their family is a big deal, and being able to create their own schedules is a new taste of freedom. After successfully completing the detox and inpatient phases of recovery, it can be tempting to think that someone is just on the verge of being “cured.” However, attending an IOP isn’t an invitation to rush recovery. This phase is in place because there are going to be new challenges ahead. Taking the time in recovery and regularly attending an IOP is paramount in preventing relapse and creating a lasting recovery.
Take the IOPs Just as Seriously
There’s a reason that the IOP is a common step in the recovery process. The newfound freedoms granted during an IOP are like a boon – a reward for substantial progress and a motivational tool to keep going. But the IOP is in place to be much more than just a safety net as the reintegration process takes place. They are scheduled in a way to be available alongside daily life and often offer both day and night sessions, depending on what is most beneficial for the individual. They are also in place to begin experimenting with life skills instilled in a practical way.
While the safety net is important, they are a place to discuss what in the reintegration process is working and what isn’t, what may need some adjustment, and how others are coping with similar problems. Then they can meet a couple of days later and update the group on how it turned out, while continuing to practice the social interaction and community side of recovery. An IOP is just as necessary and serious of a step as the ones that came before it.
The Role That an IOP Plays in Recovery
Taking an IOP seriously involves understanding the role that it plays as a whole. IOPs deal with the transitional phase between residential care and reintegration. When moving out into the real world, it will be time to put into practice everything that was learned while going through the detox and inpatient phases of recovery. Some strategies may be more impactful than others, and things may have to be adjusted. However, the largest change will be interacting with the world at large.
Triggers will be more plentiful, and people will have to rely on their own voices to avoid high-risk scenarios. IOPs are in place so that someone doesn’t feel like they have to last on their own all the time. Instead, there are multiple weekly meetings and an established community and support system of people who understand because they are experiencing the trials of reintegration at the same time.
Stick With It
It is important to see IOPs through for as long as possible, even when things tend to be going well. That is because triggers can be anything, anywhere, and anytime. For instance, just because things are progressing well on the personal and professional fronts during summer doesn’t mean that winter triggers like the holidays will be just as easy to deal with. The real world involves constant change. Having a steady group and schedule to fall back on during unsure times can be the difference between continuing sobriety and an unfortunate relapse.
Time Changes All
Addiction isn’t something that develops overnight. It can take months or years to develop misuse or dangerous use as a coping mechanism. Just as it takes time for an addiction to develop, it also takes time to rewire one’s brain to progress with the absence of drugs and alcohol. It is a difficult thing to draw new lines and connections between all the facets of someone’s life. Having the support there and ready to help when difficult times present themselves is extremely important.
Rushing success often leads down the opposite path. When times are tough, it is important to use the IOP to one’s advantage – including the therapeutic and social outlets therein. When times are good, share and revel in them, and let the group experience that success at the same time. It could be influential for everyone in attendance as they are given new motivations and ideas on how their lives will shape up. Either way, it is important to continue attending the program seriously. Triggers can come at any time, and the newfound freedoms are something to be treasured and kept. Continuing with a program decreases the chance of a relapse, but exiting early under a premature conception of being “cured” from the affliction can lead back down a disastrous path.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, Lighthouse Recovery is here to help. Creating our own modern take on sober living and intensive outpatient programs, Lighthouse understands the importance of each step of the recovery process and works to instill the necessary coping and life skills for a promising future of sobriety. It’s never too late to seek help. Lighthouse champions the individuality of each person who comes and shares in their experiences, creating a path for them to achieve their own goals in life.