Picture top left and bottom right: Robert became the first graduate of the Intensive Outpatient Program in June.
Throughout its 25-year history, Springs Rescue Mission has been devoted to helping those struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction. But there has been a gap.There have been 12-step meetings and a men's residential recovery program, but no program specifically designed to help those needing something in between — particularly women.“Springs Rescue Mission staff and leadership have realized the felt need for intervention programs aimed at individuals unable or unready to commit to long-term residential treatment,” said Joel Siebersma, SRM’s director of health programs.Last year, Siebersma’s team set out to fill those gaps with a new Intensive Outpatient Program for substance abuse treatment — for both men and women.
“I see the IOP as closing a significant gap in the services being offered at Springs Rescue Mission and in our community,” said Shannon Dunnan, SRM’s manager of addiction recovery. “We’ve always wanted to offer these resources to women, and now we can do that. I think this will open doors to more comprehensive services for women moving forward.”
The curriculum for the four-month program is centered around “evidence-based practices endorsed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,” according to Siebersma. It's designed to be a full-time job for its participants: classes three days a week and another three days of recovery meetings.“The target population, as we get things going, is the SRM clients who primarily use the shelter and day center services,” he said. “As the IOP grows, we hope to expand.”The program is run by Shannon Dunnan, SRM's addiction recovery manager. Dunnan graduated the New Life Program in 2005 and has worked for the Mission since 2011. He said one major benefit of the program is that it is offered to guests free of charge.
“Substance abuse and recovery services tend to be very expensive,” Dunnan said. “This program gives us the ability to help those individuals who may not be able to afford those resources but who want help overcoming their addictions.”
Guests can apply to the program with the help of a case manager or shelter coordinator. They then meet with the program administrator and complete an interview to confirm they are a good fit.“By using our experience in providing services to the chronically homeless in Colorado Springs, we designed our IOP to specifically meet their needs,” Siebersma said.Springs Rescue Mission leadership and staff anticipate the Intensive Outpatient Program to grow substantially, much like the New Life Program (SRM's yearlong men's residential treatment program) has since its start in 2003.“We began the NLP with just a few men living in a basement apartment and have grown to become a well-respected recovery program in El Paso County,” Siebersma said.The New Life Program has become a notable treatment option recognized by the El Paso County Court system and El Paso County Jail. Siebersma said he hopes the same for the new Intensive Outpatient Program.“We look forward to the IOP enjoying the same reputation for professionalism and compassionate care,” he said.
Dina and Thomas are two of the Intensive Outpatient Program’s first graduates. Read a little bit about their stories below.
Dina wasn’t living on the streets, desperate for a meal. She came to the Mission seeking a safe space to get clean.“I wanted to quit drinking, but I couldn’t do it where I was living," she said. "I came to the Mission to get sober and that’s what I did.”Dina had been in a series of unhealthy relationships, living in environments that made recovery seem impossible.“I was trying to change my life but I couldn't do it there,” she said.At the Mission, Dina was proactive about her sobriety. She cleaned the shelter for Work Engagement and joined the new Intensive Outpatient Program for addiction recovery.
“I came in here after all those years of drinking and found a program that works,” she said. “I could never afford to get this kind of therapy anywhere else."
Dina graduated the program August 20th — a significant milestone on her recovery journey.“I don’t want to stop growing,” she said. “I hope that I make myself better so people see the difference and want to do the same for themselves.”
Thomas felt overwhelmed his first night at Springs Rescue Mission.“I wasn’t an experienced homeless person,” he said. “I didn’t know how to do this.”But that was the night Thomas started his journey out of homelessness and addiction. At SRM, he attended 12-step meetings and surrounded himself with a community that helped him stay clean. He was finally in a place where transformation seemed possible.
“I knew this was a place I could get help, so I put down the booze and got to work,” he said. “I made my mind up that I was getting out of here.”
Thomas became a model guest. He did laundry for other homeless men and women as a member of Work Engagement. Today, he completes the men’s Intensive Outpatient Program for addiction recovery.“I’ve felt so good about myself,” he said. “I show up on time, I never miss a day. I’m going to complete the program and see where life takes me.”Thomas says that he would one day like to work for the Mission — to help others like himself.“I either ended up here by chance or I’m here for a reason, and I choose to believe I have a purpose,” he said. “I love the Mission and I want to stay involved with this place. It gives me purpose.”