The Empowerment Center provides a 12-step recovery-oriented process offering a four level step-down program designed to bridge the gap between recent addictions treatment, homelessness or incarceration, and independent living. It gradually reintegrates men and women into a drug-free world, as their coping skills, self-esteem, and recovery tools become sufficient to withstand the people, places, and situations that can trigger reactions and cravings.

Progression through the levels is accomplished only when the individual is ready as determined by the individual, caseworker, and Empowerment Center staff. It is a highly individualized process because each person’s recovery is unique and progresses on its own timetable.

Why do we have levels?

The Empowerment Center is based on the idea that discharge from primary treatment, incarceration, or coming directly from the streets back into the family home can be traumatic. With little structure or understanding of where the addicted person has been, there is great potential for environmental triggers to work as  catalysts for relapse. Whether treatment lasts 30 or 90 days, or if incarceration or homelessness were suffered for a number of years, these individuals often seek treatment after years of drug and alcohol abuse. Studies of long-term use show psychological effects that include a delay of maturity and development, and the gradual disconnection from emotions.

These harmful effects cause numerous problems for the men and women seeking hope at EC. Often, it has been a long time since the resident has used healthy coping skills to deal with everyday life. Drugs and alcohol have become the principal means of dealing with emotions. They can spend weeks in treatment “learning” new coping skills, but they cannot practice applying those skills in “real life” situations inside the traditional inpatient program. Consequently, when they return to the daily stressors of home, life, and work, applying newly learned coping skills could be “trial by fire.”  Unfortunately, the consequences of failing this risky trial can be devastating, and literally life threatening.

The second problem comes from the “rebound effect” of substance abuse. Ironically, when stopping a class of drugs, the resulting effect is often the opposite of the effect caused by the drug. Those who abused opiates or benzodiazepines often experience moderate to severe anxiety, which can last up to several months. Someone who has abused stimulates can have an opposite “crashing” response to stopping, characterized by lethargy and a depressed mood.  Not only does the client lack experience dealing with emotions, those emotions often feel more intense than those experienced by a non-addicted individual.

All of this means that the most vulnerable time in recovery is the time directly following discharge from an inpatient program, release from incarceration, or a change from homelessness to rejoin the “real world.”  The client experiences emotions more intense than normal and has unproven “skills” for coping with them.  Moreover, the client is often going from a structured safe environment to one full of the “people, places, and things” that can trigger a desire to use or drink.

To bridge the “gap” into which many fall after leaving primary treatment, incarceration, or the streets, The Empowerment Center extended care program was designed as a “level reintegration” program. It allows individuals to apply the concepts learned with gradual exposure to life only when they display the insight, discipline, decision-making, and problem-solving skills necessary to successfully handle the stressors that come with exposure.

If you are a professional seeking help for your client, please contact us so that we may work together to create change and hope in the lives of our community’s most destitute.