I have often heard it said that relapse is a part of recovery. For many people in early recovery, this statement may be more true than not. Especially for someone who tries to stop using on his own or who spends a few weeks in a treatment program and then tries to return to “normal” life.
The problem with this approach is that “normal” is usually littered with triggers, friends who are still using, unresolved (and often intensified) stressors and no coping mechanisms to address them. What happens next?
My personal experience taught me how important it was to surround myself with a safe, supportive, and sober community of peers. I discovered quickly after leaving school that there was safety in numbers.
A long time ago, I was a teacher in a community that worked with handicapped children. It was there that I learned about Waldorf education and how unique it truly is. With that experience in mind, I followed Rudolf Steiner’s idea to arrange a different theme and counselor (teacher) for each of the three IOP days each week.
Tuesday is a process group with Dr. Sandra Newes, who incorporates a resiliency model into her psychotherapy group. Wednesday’s group is with Terry Streeter and Alex Mandikos, who pick up where Tuesday’s group ends and relate it to men’s issues and the 12 Steps. Lastly, Thursdays are spent at Equine Therapy with Andrea Burgess. Andrea does a beautiful job showing the guys how the horses are mirrors of themselves and how they relate to the world. At the end of the week, Terry, Alex, or myself will work one-on-one with each IOP client to process the week and issues that arise from the week’s experiences.
In the words of new graduate JW, “I thought 3 months after rehab was unneeded, but after completing it, I still have a lot of work to do outside of NA for personal growth. For me personally, IOP was more beneficial than rehab.”
We do everything in our power to help our residents build a strong foundation that reduces their risk for both relapse and for overdose. We also give them the tools and the encouragement to build a life that is worth living.
And that, in the end, is perhaps the best relapse prevention plan there is: building a life worth living. And that may take a little time. But it is definitely time well spent.
Info and graphic courtesy of NextStep Recovery.