Interview with Executive Director Hunter Kennedy, Psy.D., LPC-S

“Recovery is definitely possible. I mean I personally, in the last decade that I’ve been working in recovery, I know hundreds of people who have 20, 30, 40 years sober and so recovery is 100% possible.”

Colorado Executive Director Hunter Kennedy, Psy.D., LPC-S answers questions about Footprints to Recovery

What Levels of Care Do You Offer?

Basically, treatment comes in many forms. Usually it starts off in a detox setting, so depending on your drug of choice and how long you’ve been doing it and how addicted your physical body is to it, that usually starts in a detox or in a hospital setting. Then, usually from there, people might step into residential treatment. Those are people who just are incapable of staying away while they’re out.

And then we pick up at that point, or for people who haven’t reached quite those levels of addiction yet, and we start with what we call a PHP. That’s Partial Hospitalization Program. And basically what that is, is like a job. Monday through Friday, from 9:00 to 3:00 you come to treatment, you attend groups, you work on the various things. We assign you activities and outside beginnings with AAs and ACAs, getting sponsors and you have an individual therapist that you do individual therapy and individual work that is pertinent specifically to that individual, whether that’s trauma work or relational work or just unresolved mental health issues.

From the PHP level, then they step down to what we call IOP5, that is intensive outpatient programming. And what that is, is just a step down version. It’s Monday through Friday and it’s just half days, and so clients are here from 9:00 to 12:30 five days a week. And then as they progress, I told you we stair step them back into life. Then we step them down to three days a week of half days and then we step them down to what we call OP or outpatient. And that’s usually two days a week where you come to one group and have one individual session per week.

Then we step them down to one day a week and then we usually refer them back out to community providers, support groups and then they may just follow up with an individual therapist once a week just to work on whatever it is they’ve been working on, keep what they have so they don’t regress backwards.

What Makes Footprints to Recovery Unique?

Footprints is very progressive I would say in the fact that we literally and truly are body, mind and spirit, we are truly addressing the whole individual. We’re meeting people where they are. We’re not afraid to use medication, we’re not afraid to use different therapies, we’re not afraid to engage in experiential and recreation and all the different forms of treatment and activity that somebody needs to actually recover and live a recovered sober life.

Is Recovery Possible?

Recovery is definitely possible. I mean I personally, in the last decade that I’ve been working in recovery, I know hundreds of people who have 20, 30, 40 years sober and so recovery is 100% possible. The problem is number one, do you have to hit rock bottom before you go find help? The answer for most addicts is kind of. Why? Because that’s usually what it takes to motivate you enough to actually seek out the help you need.

And I’ll give you an example. I spent four or five years in private practice doing marriage and family therapy. And the thing I can tell you is that the problem was people always came to me when it was too late. Once you get to the point where you hate each other, it’s going to be really hard to save the marriage where if you come in when you first start having problems, it’s going to be really easy. That’s kind of the story with addiction. If you come in early when you are dealing with substance and addiction, or if you’re willing to get educated on how this is a progressive disease and how it takes over more and more and more and more of your body, mind and your soul, and that’s what it does. I mean, it is a virus that grows inside of you until it owns you.

And usually when people hit rock bottom, it’s when that disease has fully taken over and they’ve lost their job and their marriage and their family and their homes, and they’re broke. Their life is just in shambles. And then of course you have to rebuild that. And so my plea to people is recognize when you’re having these problems and when you have an addiction and when this is going on, and don’t wait until you hit rock bottom, but instead recognize this is where it goes. You can ask any addict, you can ask any alcoholic, you go to a meeting and you’ll find a room full of people that have found that bottom and said, “I’ve got to stop. I’ve got to change this.”

And so you can change it and my advice is change it early and avoid many, many, many of the pains and throes in the agony that you’re going to go through. It’s just a matter of when. So that would be my advice to those people and you can do it, and the sooner the better.

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