The early abstinence stage of recovery typically starts off with a detox program provided by others or the initiation of a drug replacement therapy program. There are some cases where the individual has already been clean and sober for the required 7 days and are able to enter into the program without detox. An example of this would-be individuals coming out of jail or remand. The Residents in Recovery program starts as individuals come out of the detox program or have been clean off their drug of choice for a minimum of a week. This is done for the safety of both the resident as well as the staff and other residents in the program. Once the resident is medically cleared, they can enter the first phase of the program at the Residents in Recovery sober living house to begin their personalized recovery program.
Medical detox is not provided by the Residents in Recovery program as it is not equipped to manage the specific medical needs of those coming off of their drug of choice (DOC). If necessary, the staff at Residents in Recovery can help the prospective resident find a suitable detoxification program prior to starting the program.
There are four main goals to the early abstinence stage of recovery. These are;
Physical and mental healing
Structure and routine
One of the greatest problems facing someone in recovery today is treatment wait times. Many individuals willingly enter a detox program, with the expectation of getting clean and turning their lives around. For many, detox provides a source of motivation and encouragement. The unfortunate reality for most though, is that this motivation and encouragement, quickly turns to discouragement and despair when they are forced to return to the same environment they left for detox, waiting for an open funded bed in a residential treatment facility. Detox leaves most feeling vulnerable and emotionally unstable due to being abstinent for the first time in years. Individuals are expected to stay clean and motivated for months until treatment, without the tools to support their recovery. During this extended wait they must cope with the urges, craving and emotions that haunt them every hour of every day. It is almost impossible for anyone newly abstinent to remain clean for months on end without any tools to facilitate this challenge. The Residents in Recovery program addresses this issue and provides immediate access to a safe and supporting recovery environment, whether the resident is coming from detox or jail (remand). If the resident has been clean and sober for a period of 7 days they may enter the program.
Active addiction is very hard on the person, both mentally and physically. Poor nutrition, sleep deprivation, high stress levels and emotional instability are typical traits of addiction. These have a detrimental impact on the individual’s well-being. Detoxification from the resident's drug of choice (DOC) is the first step in the body's repair process. Depending on the level of active addiction, DOC, length of time in active addiction and other factors, this healing process can take weeks to years. Residents will be supported with healthy meals, multivitamins, physical activity and appropriate sleep to help their physical healing. Providing the resident with a safe and stable recovery environment will help them manage their stress levels. Counseling and support will be available to help the residents manage their emotions and begin the long process of emotional healing.
Providing structure in the resident’s life is important for recovery. Most people struggling with addictions live without structure or stability. Chaos is the predominant feature of active addiction. Exposing the resident to structure and routine helps them develop positive habits necessary for their recovery. The structure and routine provided also has the effect of easing tension and minimizes the effect of boredom which plagues most addicts in early abstinence. Residents have a structured daily program but do have freedom in their daily routines.
Daily programming is broken into two distinct segments. The mornings will involve life skill development and the afternoons focus on addiction. The life skills programming will be open to the public and offered as a drop-in service to anyone wishing to access information and support on specific daily topics. Funding for this project will be provided as a combination of governmental and community funding. The addiction programming will be requirement of all sober living residents and will be offered to any community individuals that have been identified as having an addiction issue. Participation in this programming will require a simple screening intake to ensure that the individual is currently abstinent as well as to identify areas for support for recovering individuals.
Life Skills Programming
Life skills development is important for strong and healthy communities. Although the primary focus will be on marginalized populations within the community, anyone requiring assistance with all or any of the topics will be allowed to attend. A simple pre-registration assessment will help identify areas for concern and allow us to better meet the needs of perspective participants. Attendance is not mandatory (except for sober living residents) as each day covers a different topic. Individuals can attend daily programming that applies specifically to them. Daily discussion topics will be published on a monthly basis so individuals can plan their attendance in advance.
Mental Health and Addiction Programming
Afternoon daily programming includes a 12-week psycho-educational program aimed at educating participants in the area of mental health and addiction. Participation of early abstinence sober living residents is mandatory and the program will be made available to the general public. Community members that have addiction issues are also encouraged to attend. There are three areas of focus;
Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors
Elements of Addiction
The program is straightforward and can be presented by facility personnel with some addictions training such as the Program Director or Client Care Aides. Providing information on harm reduction arms the resident with useful knowledge to keep themselves safe should they unfortunately relapse. Thoughts, feeling and behaviors is the core of the program and is intended to prepare the individual for residential treatment. Elements of addiction helps residents understand addiction and its many elements.
Early Recovery is where the real work begins. The residential treatment program unearths deep issues that will need to be addressed. One-on-one counseling combined with group therapy will continue this work. Initially residents will focus on applying what they learned in recovery to their daily lives and building on the knowledge about themselves and their addiction. As the resident becomes more knowledgeable, other aspects of the resident's life will be addressed until the resident can envision a balanced life of recovery ahead of them. The main goals of this stage of the program are as follows;
Maintaining abstinence and recovery motivation
Active program of recovery
Creating a healthy and balanced lifestyle
The resident will have two to four months of clean and sober time when they reach this point in the program. It is typical for individuals to begin to plateau and become stagnant at this point in their programs. Managing the emotions associated with treatment completion and reintegration with increased freedom in an independent living environment is very important for the long-term success of the resident. The first month after treatment is traditionally when most individuals relapse. The Residents in Recovery program will help residents get through this by continuing their recovery work, keeping them focused and providing purpose and motivation for continued abstinence.
Recovery is often far from enjoyable, as it involves a critical self-analysis in beliefs, thoughts and environments. Residential treatment provides residents with the key elements start to their recovery program and the exploration of self that will continue in depth for a few months following treatment. Residents are required to follow through with the group and counseling sessions provided within the program, as well as at least one self-help program such as 12-step or SMART. For those in AA or NA, step-work is required. For those in SMART Recovery, handbook work is required. Residents are afforded the opportunity to choose which program(s) that they feel is most suitable for them. Leaving residents comfortable with recovery and incorporating it into their routines, makes them that much more likely to continue once they leave the program and reintegrate into society.
Creating a healthy and balanced lifestyle is paramount in achieving long term success in any recovery program. The focus here is skill development and training to ensure that residents can find employment outside the program. Residents are encouraged to upgrade or complete their GED if required, learn valuable skills, gain experience and earn money to save for future arrangements. At this stage it is important that all diagnoses and disorders are addressed. In many cases this will be the first time individuals will have been clean and sober for consecutive months. This clean time allows psychiatrists the opportunity to properly assess the symptoms being displayed by the resident and ensure that they are being treated appropriately.
Having an understanding and a plan for all issues facing every resident, is paramount in a long term and effective recovery program. Every recovery is different and as such each resident is likely to have specific recovery requirements. The Residents in Recovery program prides itself in addressing each resident’s concerns, prior to completion of the program. By covering all the bases, the resident will be afforded the best opportunity for long term recovery and happiness.