Managing Your Recovery in an Intensive Outpatient Program While Continuing to Work

Managing Your Recovery in an Intensive Outpatient Program While Continuing to Work

You’ve been working hard in recovery, and perhaps you’ve even completed a residential treatment program. Recovery is such a courageous journey, and you are ready to continue taking steps towards your happiness and health – but you also have responsibilities to uphold. A family, a job, bills to pay – you now have to introduce these components back into your life as you find your balance. Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are an excellent step towards acquiring that independence while also maintaining the support and structure you’ve been used to receiving.

Who This Program Is For

If you’re considering participating in an IOP, there are a few key criteria that you most likely want to meet first:

  •    Do you live in the region close to where you’d like to attend treatment?
  •    Is detoxification not something that you need?
  •    Do you have a stable, supportive home environment to return to after each day of the program?
  •    Are you self-motivated and determined to utilize the tools you pick up in treatment?

This program provides a similar intensity to a residential treatment program, except it does not providing food and housing. What it does provide, however, is the stability of knowing that you are still working towards your recovery every single day – and you have somewhere near you that can give you all of the support that you need during this transition.

Why IOP?

IOPs are more than just providing you structure and guidance. Research has shown us time and time again that IOPs are actually incredibly effective for treating substance use disorders (SUDs). In 2015, researchers from Portland, Oregon, examined the evidence of IOPs thus far throughout research history. They analyzed 12 studies and in terms of the quality of trials used for IOPs, the diversity of settings that these programs were in, and the consistency of outcomes that these programs provided time and time again. Overall, it was concluded that IOPs are very effective – all of the studies showed significant reductions in alcohol and drug use, and it’s clear that this type of program can be beneficial in helping individuals maintain their recovery while also carrying out day-to-day responsibilities.


The transition into independent living can be a scary one. You don’t know what to expect, and you may have some fears about relapse, support, and the ability to use the resources you’ve learned so far. Much like a young child learning to walk, you’re taking your first steps towards a life of sobriety – and it’s okay to need someone to hold your hand, even if for a brief moment. This is where your tools from recovery really need to come into play. Breathe. Gain some perspective. Take everything step by step, day by day. You’ve probably been establishing goals in your treatment program thus far, and it can get overwhelming if you look too far ahead – so strictly focus on the now.

Your Next Steps

It’s always helpful to know what you can expect before you go into a program. If you enter a reputable IOP, you’ll receive a lot of the same benefits that you did in your residential treatment program – individual therapy, group therapy, assessments, private counseling and family counseling all contribute towards building up your success in recovery. You’ll be able to work closely with your healthcare team to build a schedule that works for you – because the times you attend treatment shouldn’t add more stress to your day.

You can expect to have people by your side, but you’ll have to take more responsibility over your days. It’s time for you to implement that schedule you’ve been shown from Day 1 – and it’s up to you to practice the tools you’ve learned when you’re at home and work. Make sure you have a strong support system at home, because studies have shown that social support is a vital component to recovery success. Have numbers of recovery leaders and peers you can call if you need to – you never know when you may need some words of encouragement.

No matter how you’re feeling about this new phase of your life, try not to hold any expectations. Life is a series of ups and downs, and there’s no way to tell what’s going to happen in the future. All you can do is take everything one step at a time – and be confident in knowing that you’re doing the best you can. One of the most commonly feared components of recovery is relapse but fearing this in and of itself could add more pressure than you need.

Tips to Manage Recovery While Working

Returning to work can be a challenging, unpredictable process, and you don’t want to throw yourself into a high-responsibility position right away. Give yourself time to slowly adjust, even if that means sharing part of your role in the workplace. The following are some other helpful tips for you to use as you navigate this return:

  •    Take breaks throughout your day so that you can breathe
  •    Say ‘no’ to business outings if you don’t feel comfortable with it
  •    Practice organizing your day so that you have little down time
  •    Go for walks each day if you can
  •    Eat healthy, balanced, nutritious meals to keep your mind and body functioning the best they can
  •    Spend quality time with your loved ones and strengthen those connections
  •    Get good sleep each night by going to bed at a decent time

These tips may seem “self-explanatory”, but they’re much harder to implement when life happens. Most of all, be patient with yourself. You’re working hard, and you should be proud of that.

Cumberland Heights in Chattanooga is a 12-step based outpatient alcohol and drug addiction program. Our Intensive Outpatient Program is designed for individuals 18 and above who may be in the early stages of addiction and alcoholism, or who are experiencing issues with drugs or alcohol. We offer both personalized assessments and flexible treatment hours to suit your needs. If you’re ready to take that first step towards your recovery journey, call us today for more information at 423-308-0689.

Why is it so meaningful to give to Cumberland Heights?

Your gift to Cumberland Heights through our annual and capital initiates gives immediate support to patients and their families. To make a longer term impact a gift to the endowment fund will provide patient assistance funding for years to come.