The role of weekend programs in outpatient addiction treatment

Do you struggle between your everyday responsibilities and getting a proper treatment for an addiction problem? A weekend program might be just the thing you need. Read more here about outpatient treatment on the weekends with industry experts, Lasting Recovery of San Diego, CA.

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Weekend programs for outpatient addiction treatment

Addiction, as well as its treatment, affects people’s lives in more than one way. Addiction does not affects only a drug user or drinker… but also her daily habits, activities, and responsibilities. Plus, addiction affects family members and family obligations, interfering and changing the way you live. But don’t let these thoughts stop you from getting the much necessary help! Know that there IS A WAY you can be properly treated, without putting your ongoing activities and family on hold.

Today, we talk with Judy Saalinger, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Lasting Recovery, an Outpatient Treatment Program located in San Diego, CA. We talk candidly about their weekend program: a treatment setting that supports people who are not able to attend intensive outpatient program due to work, school, or family obligations.

Read on and learn more about best practices in weekend treatment, its role, and how it might be the right fit for you or your loved one. If you are interested in knowing more, feel free to post your questions in the comments section at the end of the interview. We will do our best to respond to all questions personally and promptly.

Best practices in weekend addiction treatment

ADDICTION BLOG: Who is best suited to enroll in a Weekend Program for addiction treatment? What’s the demographic?

LASTING RECOVERY: The best suited persons for the Weekend Program are those who prefer to recover within a group size of 6-9 people, and are OK with using an approach that utilizes empowering psychology and holistic wellness activities along with traditional 12 step concepts. These folks are committed to understand the complex biophysical, psychological, social and spiritual implications of addiction and are motivated to attend outside community support meetings and complete writing assignments during the week.

The Weekend Program works best for students with night classes, professionals who travel during the week, night shift workers, such as healthcare professionals and also those whose work require more than an 8 hour day, e.g. executives, accountants and attorneys.

ADDICTION BLOG: Can you describe a typical weekend for someone enrolled in your program?

LASTING RECOVERY: Friday evening’s session begins with a 90 minute group process and 90 minutes of yoga, education for mind/body/spirit.

Saturday and Sunday from 10-1 includes education sessions on addiction, relapse prevention, and the changes need to be made to sustain recovery. Following this, the process group enhances honesty and creates safety for self disclosure and relationship sensitivity for another 90 minutes. Here, they discover the process of Fearless Change, explore the time given to their addiction and the effects upon their health, relationships, and work. In addition, clients learn more about their inherent personality and begin living healthy values that were compromised due to their addictions.

ADDICTION BLOG: How is attendance tracked and how much wiggle room is there in terms of absence?

LASTING RECOVERY: Attendance in the Weekend Program is tracked by sign in, active group participation, and a completed Client Self Report Progress Note is turned in at the end of the daily session.

ADDICTION BLOG: What are some benefits of weekend treatment for addiction?

LASTING RECOVERY: Clients are refreshed, serious and focused on getting as much help as possible out of the program. They have completed their work week and are less distracted or tired by having completed a full day of work.

Another benefit of the Weekend Program is the disruption of the weekend drinking cycle. Most working people report the progression of their drinking started on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

ADDICTION BLOG: What are some limitations of weekend treatment for addiction?

LASTING RECOVERY: The weekend treatment is limited to those whose level of care needs are for Intensive Outpatient, or a minimum of three, 3-hour sessions a week. Evening Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) can be combined with the Weekend Program, thereby providing a 6-7 day a week of treatment.

ADDICTION BLOG: Are weekend programs as effective as intensive outpatient treatment?

LASTING RECOVERY: Yes. Our Weekend Program and Intensive Outpatient Programs (evening and daytime) are basically the same.

Many people report that Friday night and weekends were high drinking/using times/days for them. Treatment during these high risk times contributes to the change needed for their recovery. Some Weekend Program group members who are working full time attend both the evening and weekend programs for 6 full days of education and group process, a total of 18 hours a week.

ADDICTION BLOG: How can clients avoid burnout while attending weekend treatment programs?

LASTING RECOVERY: Our approach is to encourage balance. Therefore, the weekend sessions are 3 hours in length. The groups are educational, and positive utilizing an approach to reclaim and strengthen their health and relationships. Clients are glad to begin letting go of suffering severe stress by drinking and/or using drugs, being in denial, lying to their loved ones and employers, keeping secrets and unable to resolve their struggles.

At intake, most clients report their loved ones are hurt and confused, employers are frustrated due to poor performance, and missed days due to the progression of their disease. By the time the first weekend is over, clients are hopeful and feel relieved to be in a safe and nurturing environment that holds them accountable to their own goals. Many report that their work and relationships improve within the first few weeks.

ADDICTION BLOG: How exactly can weekend programs help people that are struggling to maintain sobriety?

LASTING RECOVERY: The Weekend Program provides a psychological and educational foundation for recovery. Examples of activities include:

  • complete a time line
  • learn about neurological effects of addictive substances
  • relapse prevention, cross addiction
  • triggers/cravings
  • relationship skills
  • effective communication skills

The Weekend Program includes the basics of weekday IOP (accountability, evidence based education, random drug testing, instructors that are either licensed clinicians or interns who are nearly licensed, and who know addiction first hand). Plus, weekend clients have time to process the what they have experienced and integrate it with their family and recovery support network.

ADDICTION BLOG: What kinds of continuum of care modalities can clients benefit from during the week? Are these encouraged?

LASTING RECOVERY: We have several options, including a 90 minute Family Education Group, for the client and their loved ones, Individual or family Therapy, medical, nursing and psychiatric services. MAT or medically assisted treatment is available for clients to receive non narcotic alternatives for cravings, depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance which when untreated can lead to a relapse. Naltrexone, Vivitro, gabapentin, Suboxone, Antabuse, or anti-depressant medications may be recommended by our medical team. Research shows that MAT saves lives, marriages, employment, relationships and health.

Yes, all clients are encouraged to see the medical or clinical staff during the week and attend Family Education Group with their loved ones if they are in available. All are invited to learn how the entire family has been caught up in the neurological rewiring of the brain and addictive cycle and what they can do to help themselves and their children.

ADDICTION BLOG: Is there any more information you would like to share with our readers?

LASTING RECOVERY: If you are in a situation where you think you would benefit from a Weekend Program, call around your community. There may be one available that is perfect for you.

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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