Real Life Recovery: Day Treatment for Addiction

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What if you have family, a job, or educational obligations?


A standard directive in 12-step or addiction recovery meetings is, “Go to 90 meetings in 90 days.” They say this to encourage anyone new to recovery to immerse themselves in recovery in the same way they immersed themselves in their addiction. Recovery is the most important thing a person can do. But what if you must work, go to school, or have a family to attend to? 12-step meetings are offered at various times and locations. But many treatment programs require a residential stay; this is not conducive to daily functioning in real life. Add to the situation the need for a therapist, family education and support, or medical concerns, and a busy lifestyle becomes a barrier to recovery.


Real Life Recovery

Sanford Behavioral Health Outpatient Center allows individuals to receive the support they need while maintaining their daily responsibilities and routines. Sanford has individualized recovery programs that work with your real life. When entering a Sanford addiction treatment program, each patient is assessed to determine the appropriate level of care. Based on our recovery for real-life philosophy, we aim to select a clinically relevant placement for everyone in the least restrictive level of care. We have Residential and Full Day Programs (PHP) at Sanford, but today I want to discuss our half-day programs. These are often called Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP).


Half-day programs give our clients space to learn how to live in recovery and still have support from their peers in 12-step meetings. IOP allows clients to build a strong foundation for their recovery quickly since IOP takes place three days a week, three hours a day. It enables clients to continue with their everyday lives. IOP provides an invaluable tool that people early in recovery can use—all the while maintaining a job or attending to life’s obligations effectively.



What is IOP?


“IOP is the best level of care for you if you are at the point in your recovery where you feel confident about returning to normal life. The ten hours a week of programming, including individual therapy, allows our clients to engage in their lives again.  Further, they still have a dedicated space to process their challenges and plan for future situations that might be triggering.  IOP is amazing for allowing clients to make autonomous decisions and regain control of their lives while still having support and guidance.”  Kaitlyn Seiter, Sanford IOP Therapist


At Sanford Behavioral Health, clients commonly “step down” (move to a lower level of care) to IOP as they transition out of Detox, Residential, or PHP. Once they are ready to return to the normalcy of life, IOP is a great option.  For some, Sanford offers the entire continuum of care to build the best foundation for recovery. However, life doesn’t always allow that option. And clients can “step up” to a higher level of care if necessary.


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Our addiction already starts losing its power once we take that step into recovery.


Half-Day or IOP Programs Include:

  • Weekly group therapy sessions
  • Individual and family therapy
  • Treatment planning
  • Aftercare planning
  • Introduction to community support and resources such as 12-step programs
  • Welcoming atmosphere for residential and IOP alums – lifelong friendships are built


Sanford Morning IOP

  • Monday, Wednesday, and Friday Group Therapy
  • 9:00 am-Noon
  • Virtual Options Available


Sanford Evening IOP

  •  Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday Group Therapy
  • 5:00 pm-8:00 pm
  • Virtual Options Available


“The recipe for recovery includes support and stability from loved ones, and social and community support (organized groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). It also includes engaging in periods of professional care such as IOP.” Ellen Laubacher, Therapist


Connection and Community – Real Life Recovery

Whatever path to recovery one decides to take, we mustn’t try and do it on our own. As Johann Hari says, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety; the opposite of addiction is connection.” We are wired to be in a community, and when we live in addiction, we tend to isolate ourselves from others. This allows our addiction to wreak havoc on our lives. Once we step out and step into community, we begin to see that we are not alone and others struggle the same way we do. Our addiction already starts losing its power once we take that step into recovery.



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Amber Robertson is a recovery coach, recovery advocate, and a fellow recovering addict herself. She is someone who is very passionate about her family and recovery. Amber is Supervisor at the Sanford Outpatient Center in Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan.