Making the decision to get help for your substance use disorder takes bravery and can be life-changing. Following that decision with detox, residential, or partial hospitalization treatment is a crucial next step toward achieving a sober life. But what happens after that? The transition back into “real life” is a perilous time for those in recovery. Many will be returning to situations that triggered their substance use in the first place.
Continued support following an inpatient program is critical to sustained recovery. That’s where an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) comes in. After being stabilized in a residential or partial hospitalization program, patients in IOP begin the real work of building and enacting a strong recovery plan that reinforces their recovery in their home environment, with all the stresses and temptations that come with it.
By Nick Culp, Recovery Specialist
As of October 23rd, 2020, I will have worked at Parkdale Center for 18 months. As Recovery Specialist, I am a live-in member of the staff. My job is to be a resource for our patients in the evenings and on weekends. I help get new patients settled and make sure they have everything they need. I often accompany them on shopping trips, doctors’ appointments, visits to the YMCA, and so on. I also provide emergency and crisis support when needed, and of course, I reinforce the rules. Most importantly, I act as a sympathetic sounding board for those new to recovery. Like our patients, I struggled with addiction myself, and have been in recovery for 6 years. Addiction impacted every aspect of my life: my relationships, my focus, and my career.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, substance use disorder (addiction) is characterized by the inability to consistently abstain from controlled substances, impairment in behavioral control, continued cravings, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Conservative estimates state that nearly 10% of the general public are currently or will be addicted to drugs or alcohol in their lifetime (SAMHSA).
Recovering from substance use disorder requires a balanced approach to healing the whole person—mind, body, and spirit. It’s not enough for an addict to simply put aside their drug of choice. We know that substance use is one coping mechanism for individuals struggling with extreme stress, mental disorders, trauma, and grief. Without addressing these other factors, relapse is more likely. So, to achieve long-term recovery, we need to address these problems as well.
It’s no secret that our country is facing one of the worst substance abuse epidemics we have ever seen in recent history. Every single day, people from all across this great nation and around the world will fall victim to that subtle yet complex killer known as substance abuse. It’s no respecter of persons, color, culture, or creed. In fact, while many would like to deny it, you’ll find that hiding within the shadows of this ugly beast is not only everyday people but business professionals, including those within both the legal and medical fields.