By Michael Rass
A solid network of recovery support is a critical aspect of staying sober on the recovery journey. As part of their treatment program, Harmony connects clients with long-term alumni in their area who can continue the peer support and help them connect with the local recovery community. And, of course, they can stay in touch with their case manager and the Harmony alumni team.
“Concern for our clients does not end when they finish their residential treatment. Our continuing care program, called Harmony Recovery Support Groups, provides ongoing support for those who have completed our residential program,” says Harmony case manager Bob Van Nest.
And that continuing care starts right after admission. After getting as much information as possible when the client is admitted, Bob connects with the patient face-to-face as soon as the detoxification process is finished. “At a minimum, we meet once a week, but I often meet with clients several times a week to secure the care they need. I want to get an idea about where their risks are and what kind of assets they can rely on—family support, recovery friends, what kind of insurance coverage they have, and many other things. We want to know what we can utilize to assist our clients.”
And while Van Nest seeks information from the clients to better help them, he, in turn, provides lots of information on the disease of addiction and the challenges of recovery. “Clients are very safe at Harmony, but it’s a bit of a bubble. They need to prepare for what comes after residential treatment and when it comes to continuing care we want to improve their odds by looking at all the appropriate options.”
The Harmony team carefully considers the post-treatment living arrangements of all clients. “We’re looking at the risks, asking ‘what’s the environment like?’ and ‘where are possible triggers coming from? Can recovery happen there?’ We educate the client about alternatives—extended care programs with sober living and available clinical services, for example,” van Nest explains.
“I want to educate clients about what’s out there, what the limitations are, and what the benefits are. The biggest advantage of extended care and sober living is connections! Our disease wants to put us in the dark with all the guilt, shame, and remorse—recovery is the opposite: we offer the opportunity to get connected and extended care is a great way to get connected and recover together.”
In Colorado, Harmony recovery support groups offer meetings at two locations, in Denver, and in Fort Collins. These sessions are led by Harmony staff who work with clients and their family members to address issues in their recovery.
Harmony alumni can also reach Bob on the phone or via email. “I tell them, I will always be your case manager, just because you’re discharged, doesn’t mean this relationship ends. Thirty days or ten years in recovery—as long as Harmony is here and has case managers, we can still offer our help. People call me to let me know they moved or they changed their insurance and need advice. I can always email new referrals or at least give them some ideas,” says Van Nest.
We should always remember that recovery is not an event that happens once and then you’re finished. Recovery is a process—a lifelong journey. When you leave treatment and transition back into your normal life, the real work of staying sober and leading a life of purpose has only just begun. It can be a tough transition for many and being able to rely on a network of recovery support professionals as well as fellow alumni is a great benefit.