What is the Difference Between IOP and Attending Fellowship Meetings?
The difficulty one faces when getting sober for the first time is greater than many people realize. The National Institute of Health estimates that 40-60% of people recovering from drug addiction will relapse. They note that the percentage is even higher when concerning Opiates, reaching as high as 80%.
Another study found that those who received treatment for their substance abuse problem had a better chance of reaching 3 years of sobriety than those who did not have any help. (Moos, 2006)
When dealing with addiction, the stakes are high, and the task is difficult. Often, people have used for years, even decades, and are given a matter of months to overcome the lifetime of bad habits and learn healthier coping skills. It can be a lot for anyone to handle.
Inpatient treatment offers a strict routine that helps and encourages people to stay sober. No drugs or Alcohol are allowed, and healthy living habits are enforced.
This means people go to bed and get up at a regular time, eat meals on a routine schedule and are escorted to meetings and groups that focus on sobriety. Once out of treatment, the individual can do whatever he or she wants. If the individual reenters the world from treatment with no continuing treatment or ties to the treatment center, the tendency to relapse increases exponentially.
The routine started in inpatient treatment is carried further, but to a less strict degree in sober living and IOP. The first year of recovery is critical for the development of healthy habits and behaviors to be established. Yes, it can take a full year for the recovery program to really kick in and work when a person needs the tools learned most.
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Relapse Prevention in the First Year of Recovery
Do everything you can to set yourself up for success in the first year of recovery. That means going to meetings every day, attending an IOP, finding a safe place to stay, preferably IOP and work the 12-steps.
Relapse prevention is a significant topic for any type of rehab program. It is through relapse prevention that you can really identify the things that might prove difficult to handle without turning to a drink or a drug.
For instance, say that arguing with your parents or spouse tends to create an intense craving for Alcohol, pills or any other substance. That triggering event, i.e. the argument, should be avoided if at all possible. In this case, instead of approaching subjects that can cause an argument, find another way to communicate on the topic and avoid the stressful situation altogether.
There is a great deal you can do to drastically decrease the amount of stress and strife you experience throughout your day, week, or month. Not everything can be avoided or handled in a more calm and productive manner, which is why there are meetings at all times of the day. If you can’t find a meeting, pick up the phone and call a friend in sobriety, such as your sponsor.
The more you immerse yourself in an atmosphere of recovery, the better the chance of success for the long run. Everyone will have suggestions for how to handle stressors, or may just be a supportive ear. Whatever your needs, you will find it in sobriety if you look for it.
What is Intensive Outpatient or IOP for Substance Abuse Treatment & Aftercare?
IOP stands for Intensive Outpatient Program and is part of a comprehensive treatment plan. IOP starts after the individual leaves inpatient treatment. With the patients out of acute care and one to the next phase of life and sobriety, IOP operates a little differently than inpatient sessions.
Attendees of IOP are working on putting the lessons from the inpatient treatment into practice. They have detoxed and stabilized and learned much about the disease of addiction. Now, they must return to the real world and withstand temptation and cravings without the full safety net of inpatient.
The frequency and duration for IOP vary by treatment center and depends on the individual’s chosen length of participation. The sessions are usually 2-5 hours and meet one to four times a week. Most common is two to three times per week for a three-hour period.
Often these programs are offered at night to accommodate those who work, care for others, or attend school during the day. There are also programs that meet in the morning or afternoon. IOP includes group sessions that help patients work through issues, educational seminars that further educate about addiction and co-occurring problems, and individual therapy sessions.
Group sessions, whether therapeutic or educational, typically make up the majority of the time spent in IOP. During group therapy workshops individuals give and receive advice from the group. Each member is able to learn from other’s mistakes and receive collective support when needed. Those in intensive group therapy tend to form strong friendships and support each other long after the program has ended.
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What are the 12 Step Meetings or Fellowship Meetings?
12-step programs are the core of most treatment center’s programs and teachings. The reason for its popularity is that the 12-step approach to addiction treatment works.
These meetings may seem like mystical hide-outs, or possibly a cult seance to those not in the program. In fact, they are just group meetings with attendees being members of the 12-step program. Meetings are a core part of the 12-step program. Regular meeting attendance is always recommended to newcomers and many old-timers still swear by frequent meetings.
There are many different types of meetings. For instance, there are meditation meetings, big book meetings, 12 & 12 meetings, speaker meetings and more. Depending on the group or the meeting agenda for that session, you may spend the entire hour listening to someone convey his or her experience, strength and hope. Or, you might be an equal participant with everyone sharing during the meeting for the same length of time, which is usually 3-5 minutes max.
12-step meetings typically stay with a person as long as he or she is sober. Those with decades of sobriety are usually regular meeting makers. However, those in long-term recovery possibly only attend meetings a couple times a week instead of every day, which is recommended to those new to the program.
What is the Difference Between IOP and Meetings?
It can be difficult to understand the differences between meetings and IOP and why both are necessary. For starters, IOP is essentially the training wheels and meetings are the bicycle that will carry you far in life.
While IOP includes group meetings, these meetings consist of all newly sober individuals; there may be people who have gone through the process before. Everyone has many questions about what to do in situation X or how to handle family members or old friends who still use. There is a host of issues that the group members have yet to experience or walked through healthfully.
Additionally, IOP’s have a group guide, usually a therapist or addiction expert. The group leader makes sure that no one is forgotten or overlooked. Everyone shares how they are doing and expresses any problems that they are facing.
Meetings, on the other hand, have people with every experience under the sun. Some meetings may tend to have more newcomers or old-timers, who are people with a long time in the program. Most meetings have a mixture of both new and old experience in recovery.
It’s not just that those new to the program learn from those who have been there a while. Those with years in recovery also learn from those just coming in, who also serve as a fantastic reminder of the perils of active addiction.
Meetings do not have a leader or direction from formally trained specialists and therapists. The people in 12-step meetings have experience that teaches as much, if not more than books can.
Meetings are not directed, and no one is required to focus on everyone in the group. People new to a meeting are able to hide and get lost if that is their goal. However, in IOP, no one gets lost in a crowd.
Do I Need Both Fellowship Meetings & IOP in my First Year in Recovery?
Yes. Most people need both meetings and an IOP when they first start out in sobriety. You will not, however, need both forever. IOP is a program that will help you find your way in recovery, as well as overcome issues of addiction in the short-term. Some people use IOP in lieu of an inpatient program. If this is the case, you should fill your time not spent in IOP with as many meetings as possible.
IOP is structured and designed so that participants are supported and guided as much as possible. This focus on only a few individuals is different from meetings.
Meetings typically focus on everyone collectively. If you had an issue, you should share it at the meeting. After the meeting, you may receive feedback on your share. This situation all depends on the meeting and your relationship with the people and the meeting group itself.
That said, it is up to the individual to speak up and reach out to others in meetings. The greater the bond with others in the meeting the better the feedback. People in meetings definitely care about those who are brand new to a meeting, however, without professional training or previous experience with the person, others in the meetings may not know how to respond best.
The longer you are sober, the more comfortable and better familiar you will become with meetings. You should find a few meetings that you attend regularly and get to know those who attend. Most people agree that in order to maintain healthy and functional sobriety, life-long meeting attendance is required. You can decide for yourself when you have years of sobriety how much you need to attend. In the meantime, get started, get involved and get connected!
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Reputable Sources About Strong Aftercare Plans Will Encourage Long-Lasting Sobriety
ABTRS believes in the importance of using reputable sources when communicating with our patients and their families. We have crafted all our information, treatment modalities, statistics, and practices on reliable resources that are supported by data and scientific methodology. We utilize information that is impartial, not funded by organizations that could benefit from certain outcomes, and proven or tested to be effective for substance abuse treatment and aftercare.
Below are the sources used to construct the content on our website and all written material from ABTRS. We pride ourselves on offering anyone who is seeking treatment for themselves or a loved one with knowledge from reputable sources that are up to date and relevant.
SAMHSA. (2019). Recovery and Recovery Support. [online] Available at: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/recovery [Accessed 19 Feb. 2019].
Donovan, D. M., Ingalsbe, M. H., Benbow, J., & Daley, D. C. (2013). 12-step interventions and mutual support programs for substance use disorders: an overview. Social work in public health, 28(3-4), 313-32.
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Intensive Outpatient Treatment for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 1994. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 8.) Chapter 3—Components of an Effective IOT Program. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64688/