The UAB Medicine Addiction Recovery Program provides expert care for people with substance use disorders. Delivered by a team of providers from several medical specialties, this care includes a variety of personalized treatment plans, support networks, and recovery paths. One such plan is the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), which allows patients to work and attend to other obligations of daily life while recovering.
For many people seeking to recover from a substance use disorder, the first step is to get medically stabilized by undergoing a detoxification program. Afterward, patients may be ready to begin therapy activities, but they also may need a recovery plan that allows them to receive treatment without an extended inpatient stay. The IOP is a comprehensive treatment program that gives patients that flexibility and many other options.
The main goal of the IOP is for patients to quickly establish structure and consistency in their recovery, which calls for steady outpatient treatment rather than occasional or short-term visits. Bronwyn McInturff, MSW, LICSW, who directs the UAB Medicine Addiction Recovery Program (ARP), says this approach can be a good way to start recovery.
“Intensive outpatient treatment allows people to reside at home or in sober living and receive group and individual therapy services. IOPs are at least 9 hours a week, but some offer more hours,” McInturff says. “We prefer to begin with everyone coming each weekday from 9 am to noon. Committing to that much time helps those who are beginning their recovery journey to meet others, get established in the program, and learn some skills to stay sober. We’re sensitive to variations in people’s schedules and personal responsibilities, so we offer a number of customized treatment options that get excellent results. But it’s important that they commit to enough time right away, stay with that treatment plan, and take part in group therapy with people who are on that same recovery path.”
Finding the Right Path
If a patient admitted to the hospital has a substance use disorder, a member of the ARP team will go to directly to the bedside to see that patient.
“We will send a member of our staff depending on the patient’s needs,” McInturff says. “The consult team works quickly to assess the patient and link them to an appropriate care plan. Sometimes that is UAB’s IOP.”
Peer recovery support specialists meet with patients who are being evaluated for transfer to the detoxification unit. These specialists are in recovery themselves and have personal experience with the challenges of substance use disorders. They talk with patients about what treatment options may be right for them and what types of support they may need after being discharged.
Knowing what works best for each patient is a crucial part of the program. The IOP team brings together many specialties to identify possible recovery paths. The assessment process allows the team to determine patient needs before helping them choose from 12-step therapies, faith-based approaches, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), or a number of other recovery paths. The IOP offers a comprehensive approach to addiction recovery, providing medical care, psychotherapy, family care, and peer support. Care is personalized, so patient participation may run from 4 to 12 weeks, depending on their needs and abilities.
Mike Martin, a family counselor with the ARP, says the consult service has increased awareness of the available programs.
“We’ve seen an increase in the use of this consult in the hospital, because it’s a valuable resource for any clinic or unit,” Martin says. “The consult service has steadily built a network of support with primary care, physicians, and nurses who consult with our program if they see that a patient may need – or if the patient tells them they need – recovery services.
Self-referral is also available. Anyone wishing to begin recovery can contact an admissions counselor to confidentially discuss treatment options. Same-day admission to treatment usually is possible.
A Family Affair
Because substance use disorders often affect a patient’s family, recovery service programs offer support, education, and therapy to spouses, caregivers, and other family members. Martin says he sees addiction recovery services as “relationship-oriented”, which means that recovery should include the family in therapy whenever possible.
“Many patients who are in crisis arrive here with a family member,” Martin says. “If patients sign a release-of-information form permitting us to work with their family, then I will meet with them to provide information about services that are available. I can guide them through that first week to set them up for participation in a family support group that we offer weekly. This all works to reassure families and give them some sense of connection with our recovery process for the patient. It’s a vital service for the family member’s sake, too, because the struggles of individuals in active addiction can have a profound effect on their families. Families struggle with staying connected, setting boundaries, and knowing when and where to seek help.”
“Involving family counselors widens the scope of our program,” McInturff says. “It’s another part of our work that shows how a comprehensive approach leads to successful recovery. This approach is extremely helpful in understanding patient needs and their progress. All members of the team discuss the patient’s case when we meet, and that collaboration doesn’t just help us provide informed care – it’s also encouraging for the patient to know that so many experts are walking with them, and their families, along the recovery path.”
Services provided by the UAB Addiction Recovery Program include:
- Inpatient detox – medical management to prevent withdrawal symptoms and keep patients stable and comfortable as they transition off of drugs and/or alcohol
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) – structured to allow patients to work and attend to other obligations while in recovery. Program hours are 9 am to noon, with varying days available.
- Continuing care – The aftercare program provides up to two years of continued individual and/or group support, which is closely linked to long-term recovery success.
- Individual therapy – one-on-one counseling for continuity of care after completing treatment
- Professional evaluations – thorough assessments that provide a 360-degree view of the licensed professionals, the problem, and the solution. Following the evaluation, a formal report is developed that includes individualized recommendations for providing support and accountability and helping guide the monitoring process.
- Family support group – education and support services that are free of charge and open to the public
- Family therapy – marriage and family therapy services that help patients continue their work post-recovery
Click here to learn more about the UAB Addiction Recovery Program.