There are people with a long history of substance abuse who come from environments that are not conducive to sobriety. For those folks, there is residential treatment. They can live at a facility and receive intensive care and 24/7 supervision in a structured environment.
There are others who are in relatively good health and do not have an extensive history of substance abuse. They have a supportive community at home that is committed to their recovery. For them, a general outpatient program would be most appropriate. They can make their regular appointments at a treatment facility or outpatient clinic for detox or therapy while continuing to live at home and attend to their normal life activities.
There are those, however, who fall somewhere in between. Perhaps they have a history of relapse and have a co-occurring mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety. For them, there is intensive outpatient treatment (IOP), which offers the comprehensive therapy of a residential treatment program without the around-the-clock oversight.
No matter the history or circumstance, there is one condition that binds all people in recovery: the temptation to reuse the drug that put them in treatment in the first place.
That’s why staying accountable during the recovery process is necessary to realize optimal results and sustained sobriety, particularly those folks who are in an IOP. Read on to find out how to stay accountable in recovery while avoiding the relapse triggers that cause so many to stumble.
Commit to Becoming Sober
You may have heard this before, but it bears repeating. Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that can profoundly impact behavior. Relapse is not an indicator of failure. Rather, it is seen as intrinsic to the recovery process.
Nevertheless, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that 40 to 60 percent of people who are treated for a substance abuse disorder relapse, a figure that is comparable to other chronic illness statistics such as asthma and hypertension.
With that said, relapse of certain substances can be harmful and even deadly. When someone resumes use of a drug by consuming the same amount as they did before quitting, they can put themselves at risk for overdose. This can occur because their bodies are no longer used to the “previous levels of drug exposure.”
So committing to and maintaining sobriety, even in an IOP, is literally a matter of life or death.
Staying Focused in Your IOP Program
Intensive outpatient treatment is intended to be a flexible option for clients. It can be used as a stand-alone treatment or as a form of continuing care after someone no longer requires inpatient services.
Nevertheless, an IOP will provide clients access to the same level and range of services as most inpatient programs, giving clients every opportunity to get to the root of their addictions while teaching them strategies and coping mechanisms they need to remain focused in their recovery.
The Benefits of an IOP
In the past, inpatient treatment programs were viewed as the only truly effective option for achieving long-term sobriety. Now, that is no longer the case. Thanks to advancements in addiction recovery treatment technology and pharmacology, IOPs are also regarded as a viable and effective treatment option. In fact, a 2014 study concluded that IOPs are “as effective as inpatient treatment for most individuals seeking care.”
What’s more, IOP programs can serve as an efficient and inexpensive rehabilitation option for people who do not require inpatient care but still need the extra support that 12-step support groups or individual counseling cannot provide on their own.
An IOP has distinct benefits, which include:
- The freedom and flexibility that allow you to organize your treatment around your life obligations without having to put everything on hold.
- Being a viable option for people who need addiction treatment but cannot afford to leave their job, school, or family for an extended period.
- Serving as a less-expensive option than traditional inpatient treatment, which makes major insurance carriers more likely to cover an IOP program.
- Allowing clients the immediacy of opportunity, which are the tools and techniques they’ve learned in treatment can be put to use in the real world. This also allows them to quickly course-correct if something is not working.
The comprehensive addiction services an IOP offers can also be customized to meet a client’s needs. Those services include:
- Detoxification treatment
- Motivational interviewing
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- Educational workshops
- Stress management
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
- Individual therapy
- Relapse prevention planning
Avoid Relapse Triggers
For people in recovery, relapse triggers, or the stimuli that provokes someone to resume their substance abuse, can emerge from the site of an old haunt or the presence of certain people. A trigger can also come in the form of a memory, good or bad.
The threat of relapse is always present. In an IOP, you will learn strategies to minimize those triggers. Here are five strategies that can help you lessen and avoid the threat of these triggers:
- Avoid places of temptation. Are there any potentially triggering places or situations that can put you in the crosshairs of relapse? Have you been invited to participate in activities where you know substances will be consumed? The best way to stay accountable on your off time is by completely avoiding places where there will be drug use or venues where you once used.
- Get your support network together. Remember the old saying, “birds of a feather always flock together?” Well, the same is true for sobriety and the people that surround you. When you are not in treatment, it is important that you continue to align yourself with people who do not take drugs or alcohol — a community that actively endorses a sober lifestyle. It is just as important to sever all ties with unhealthy people and cut off all unhealthy relationships. If you have to change your number, block or delete their numbers, and/or “unfriend” them on social media sites, do so. Your health and sobriety mean that much.
- Establish a healthy routine to eliminate boredom. Idle moments during your downtime can compel you to think about using substances. You can eliminate that possibility by setting up a healthy routine is to eliminate idle time and boredom. While in recovery — particularly early recovery — your daily schedule should include treatment, meetings, daily obligations and responsibilities, and leisure time. When you build a schedule in this way, you develop a routine that is conducive to recovery.
- Learn to relax. Addiction is a cunning, baffling, and powerful disease. Cliché as this statement might be, it is a truthful declaration about the depth and dimension of addiction. Old thought patterns and cravings will find ways to seep into your mind. This is why it’s important to incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily life. Whether it is meditation, yoga, or some other relaxing activity, allotting 10 to 15 minutes of your day to relaxation activities can be a preventative measure against cravings and bad thoughts. Plus, these activities can help you remain in the present.
- Relapse does not equal failure. Relapse often brings about feelings of shame, guilt, and anger. Those feelings are normal. That’s the nature of disappointment. However, it is unproductive to stay in those feelings. That will only keep you bound and unwell. After relapse, it’s better to hop right back on that horse and attend as many meetings as you can. You can reach out to your support community and sponsor. If you believe your sponsor isn’t providing you with the necessary support, you can always search for a new one.
Be Fully Present in Your IOP Program
Don’t skip appointments, and don’t be late for your appointments. The nature of addiction requires you to remain vigilant. Any complacency, arrogance, or sense of self-satisfaction can defeat your recovery. Proactively participate in your treatment and be intentional in building a strong support network.
This doesn’t mean that you need to attend meetings every day or three times a day for the rest of your life. However, remaining deliberate and purposeful in your recovery can help you remain accountable.