I love I.O.P. ( intensive outpatient program), it has been more beneficial to me then Alcoholics anonymous or Smart Recovery although both those recovery programs do work.

Imagine a group of individuals helping each other without any of the guidelines that AA or Smart Recovery has. The format lets you be yourself and express your opinions freely without needing to reference them to the specific literature. It is important to have the right addiction counselor running the group. I am lucky in that way, my group counselor is a recovering addict herself, therefore she has very valuable input. You can argue that just because she’s a recovering addict that doesn’t make her any better of a counselor than a regular person who just went to school to become a counselor. That might be true, in my opinion it all depends on a person’s passion, but it’s somehow comforting knowing that someone went through the same recovery experience.

There will be people in I.O.P. who have lower standards and expectations for themselves. It can be a dangerous thing if you don’t notice that. This sudden realization came to my attention just recently. I could never protect myself before because I blindly thought that everyone wanted to maintain their sobriety as badly as I did. I do respect where they are, I was there once too, but that was before I had a chance to go to rehab and I.O.P.

Awareness is important; otherwise you will lower your standards without even knowing it. Honestly, I need to vent because the problems that people bring up for processing sometimes are ridiculous to listen to. Some of them seem like they’re just attention seekers who don’t understand that they need to make their point. It doesn’t matter how they eventually decide to proceed, the problem is that they are not willing to make up their mind. It’s all about being comfortable with who you are. That’s a big step for me as someone who is a quiet type. I have noticed that it doesn’t matter who you are as long as you are comfortable in your own skin, people are still going to be attracted to you. After leaving rehab I made the mistake of trying to change myself. My goal was to make myself talkative, all social and like a big mouth alpha, but thanks to the amazing intensive outpatient program, which now is basically an outpatient program since I graduated (it’s 2 days a week now instead of 4) in which I was accepted for who I was, I discovered how to be who I am. I never knew the qualities I had. I was scared of my knowledge and ideas so I never really shared them. Their feedback showed me a different picture of who I am.

It’s been a long road for me, the road to being myself. I.O.P. has helped me to express myself, thus I don’t feel insane or inferior as much anymore. It has become my comfort zone thanks to the atmosphere that the counselor created. I do not feel the same in AA or in any other support groups, probably cause I have been slacking off. There is only one AA meeting that I go to regularly every week, which is in rehab just like I.O.P. I am truly becoming that guy. I am attached to that place, it’s my church. I am fine with that for now because I see results when I occasionally blur out my honest feelings, thoughts and truth about myself to others. It leads to these wonderful connections with people that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. Intensive outpatient program is at the top of my list. It can be pricey, but I haven’t found any other program so far that would let me open up in a way in which I can practice being myself without feeling uncomfortable, and taking those mini risks of expressing how I truly feel.

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