The Top 5 Benefits of Transitional Living: Addiction Recovery
Over the course of the last few years, addiction recovery centers have implemented significant changes in the treatment of people recovering from a substance abuse disorder. Many of these changes are tied to concepts such as mindfulness and intentional living, which have ushered in a dramatic reduction in the frequency and severity of relapses. Others incorporate holistic therapies, encouraging self-expression and ancient relaxation techniques as a means of controlling addiction cravings.
These advancements in the care of people with addiction disorders have been made possible by a reduction in specific social stigmas. People, in general, are more aware of the nature of addiction than they were fifteen to twenty years ago. They’re also more willing to embrace the idea of trying new and different approaches. As a society, we’ve made remarkable strides in our own transition towards acknowledging everyone’s unique needs.
One of the more recent advancements in treating addiction concerns a change in inpatient and outpatient treatment. Addiction recovery centers are slowly beginning to abandon the model of long-term inpatient care. While inpatient treatment still plays a role based on some individuals’ needs, a short-term residential experience—followed by an intensive outpatient program, or IOP—offers several distinct advantages regarding the control of cravings and the avoidance of relapse. Together, this transition from a sober living environment, or SLE, to intensive outpatient treatment, is known as transitional living.
Five Benefits of Transitional Living in Addiction Recovery
Transitional living offers many benefits to the individual seeking new and innovative approaches to managing their recovery process. Here are five of the best reasons for opting to pursue a transitional approach (from SLE, to IOP, to full independence):
On-Site Staff Provides Client Care 24/7
With the traditional model for inpatient care approach, an on-site manager is available for emergency assistance, but the availability of ongoing, non-emergency care is functionally part-time. In a sober living environment, which is designed to move people through the recovery process more quickly and effectively, a more intensive approach incorporates a dedicated staff around the clock. Client care is available as needed, from individuals who are well-rested and prepared to offer their assistance effectively, in a non-emergency capacity. These same individuals interact with the same clients throughout the transition period, ensuring that the individual needs of each client are met as efficiently as possible.
Intensive Trust-Building Period
The initial phase of a transitional living arrangement involves the establishment of trust between clients and staff. An inpatient-style environment is maintained, in some respects, which involves isolation from the outside world and constant staff accompaniment; typically, this lasts for the first two weeks of the cycle. Clients are not permitted direct access to their personal vehicles, and are likewise barred from the use of cellphones, and other means of reaching the outside world. Some access is gradually resumed after this initial two-week period; other things, such as access to personal vehicles, first require that a longer period of sobriety be maintained beyond the initial two-week trust-building period.
A traditional inpatient environment is not based so solidly on the establishment of relationships. Recent developments in the field, however, suggest that the building of trust-based relationships with staff is extremely helpful to the recovery process. As such, unlike the situation with an inpatient environment, the client maintains contact with the same staff members following this trust-building period. This contact continues throughout the transition process, and on into post-recovery support. Clients have rules they must follow; they are responsible for cooking and cleaning, and have chores assigned to help ease the transition back into a self-sustained lifestyle. This is undergone while under the care of staff members who know their needs, and who become familiar faces.
Frequent Breathalyzer Tests and Random Urinalysis (UA)
In a sober living environment, clients receive breathalyzer tests frequently; West Coast Recovery Centers administers them twice per day. Urinalysis is also conducted at random, unpredictable intervals. This helps to control the urge to use, and allows for concerns to be recognized early into the process. Staff are promptly made aware of any individuals whose treatment is not meeting their individual needs, and may immediately begin investigating prospective alternatives. During the intensive outpatient program phase of transitional living, UA tests are routinely administered during regularly scheduled visits. This is intended to support a client’s management of their cravings after a certain point in the recovery process, facilitating an efficient and less stressful transition back to independent living.
Improved Attendance to Personal Needs
Over the course of a transitional living program, clients gradually assume more of the regular responsibilities which are inherent to modern daily life. The stress of resuming daily tasks which many people take for granted, combined with the sudden lack of support in managing cravings, has previously been responsible for relapse rates ranging from 60-85% under some older programs. With transitional living, the client takes over their personal responsibilities at a measured, intentional pace, one that factors in their specific needs and abilities. SLE and IOP staff are on hand to provide support and assistance as needed, including the arrangement of transportation for grocery store runs and other necessary errands.
Many individuals look for additional support during their intensive outpatient program, which comprises the second half of the transition phase. This might include help from friends and family, including the mending of relationships through counseling, as well as support provided by local support groups and guided meetings. Transitional living staff will assist with the location of compatible support groups as needed, given a client’s indication, and will also arrange for transportation to and from such therapeutic activities.
Measured Readjustment to Community Involvement
One of the major stumbling blocks for many people in adjusting to a return to a daily routine, post-recovery, is the establishment of comfortable personal and professional relationships with other people in the community. This is not always a long-term difficulty, but it is a major factor in early relapses: some people expect to simply return to their former lives, minus their addictions, without any difficulty. This is the last gasp of the addiction asserting its grasp on a person’s state of mind. Transitional living helps to overcome this challenge by enabling gradual readjustment to day-to-day life. Individuals undergoing treatment may be sponsored to attend community meetings, a phase which has previously been delayed until their treatment cycles were concluded. This helps to approach, confront, and overcome any awkwardness, confusion or uncertainty, while staff are still available to offer direct support as needed.