By Madeline Mayhood
An Intensive Outpatient Program—IOP—is industry jargon for protocols typically used in the treatment of addiction. IOPs are designed to address the disease in a myriad of ways and at various stages: as a preventative measure for people who are in the early stages, as a way to get help when a residential level of care isn’t warranted, for those who don’t need medically supervised detox, and for people who’ve completed a residential treatment program but need additional support. While IOPS sound like well-designed plans for the road to recovery, there can be hiccups along the way.
“IOPs are around meetings,” explains Bob Cabaniss, founder of Williamsville Wellness in Richmond, a rehab facility that focuses on a holistic approach to treating addiction. “And that means that the patient is the one to come to the IOP.” Life is messy; add addiction to the equation, and it’s barely navigable.
Always on the hunt for ways to continuously improve the services and outcomes at Williamsville Wellness, Cabaniss wondered about obstacles to success: what effect do the demands of work and family have on the recovery process, specifically with regard to an IOP? And what about transportation challenges and the time commitment IOPs require?
Meetings and intensive group therapy, which are part of every IOP, often require at least three to four days a week several hours a day. That translates to a huge time commitment and one that demands discipline, determination, and diligence. The potential threat to employability can be significant. After all, who can afford to be absent from a 40-hour-a-week job for large chunks at a time?
Bottom line is that those sorts of barriers present real obstacles. Cabaniss and his staff knew all too well that these challenges are faced in a profoundly fragile period in a recovering addict’s life; introducing added stressors to an already chocked-full equation is risky at best. “Recovery is difficult enough,” says Cabaniss. “Why add to the stress by trying to match your schedule to everyone else receiving treatment or by being absent from work for extended periods of time?” So Cabaniss tossed the old model on its proverbial ear: what if the IOP came to the patient?
“The Internet has been a significant game-changer for every sector of society,” notes Dr. Lyndon J. Aguiar, Clinical Director at Williamsville Wellness. “It’s no longer the exception, but rather it’s the norm. It is a way of life.” And telemedicine is one of those burgeoning Internet platforms making never before available resources accessible with the stroke of a key. So Cabaniss, Dr. Aguiar, and the Williamsville Wellness team leveraged the reality of 21stcentury connectivity to make treatment easier to access.
Enter Smart IOP. Via computers, laptops, phones, and tablets, patients can receive Smart IOP treatment in their homes and at their own pace. “It breaks the mold and overcomes the barriers to the traditional IOP,” says Cabaniss, who prides himself on his mastery of technology to enhance addiction treatment models. Whereas the standard IOP model is designed to help a group simultaneously with multiple patients meeting at the same time, Smart IOP makes it possible to truly individualize the IOP treatment plan.
Patients can meet with their therapist one-on-one. Additionally, online tools allow patients to participate in sessions with other members of their assessment team. And, a comprehensive video library is part of every curriculum, which enables patients to learn at their own pace.
The Old Guy
“I’m an old guy,” says Cabaniss, “and I’ve got all the latest technology that enables me to stay current and up-to-date.” This, in turn, allows him to help people, which is his ultimate goal. “It’s about staying ahead of the curve,” he says, “as important in addiction treatment as it is in any successful venture.” Smart IOP is just one tool he’s developed in his journey to provide the best, most cost-effective treatment for addiction. “I am pleased and humbled to provide a place where individuals will find the best and most effective options for recovery.”
No stranger to addiction, Cabaniss battled both alcoholism and a gambling addiction before he found his own path to wellness and sobriety. In 2007, he opened Williamsville Wellness in his family’s home — a sprawling, picturesque 18thcentury colonial plantation in Hanover County just north of Richmond that was once Grant’s headquarter’s during the Civil War.
Many familiar with the property describe it as an oasis. Set on over 400 acres, much of it undeveloped forest, patients are free to explore its miles of walking trails, as well as several ponds stocked with fish. The main house, one of the most well preserved Federal-style houses in the area, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Several dependent buildings and a train caboose on the property are now used for offices. All have been modernized. Formal gardens offer spaces for relaxation and contemplation; a well-equipped gym and sauna are additional features that speak to a commitment to wellness. Since it opened its doors, those seeking to break the bonds of addiction have found Williamsville Wellness to be a fulfilling, holistic experience that treats both mind and body.
Cabaniss knows he’s one of the lucky ones. While his life imploded as his addictions took hold, he found help—the right help. And he’s committed his life to giving back those in need. The Williamsville model, developed by Cabaniss and a renowned addiction specialist, is an Advanced Synergized treatment method that combines five different therapeutic modalities supported by highly trained psychologists, counselors, and social workers. It is the only one of its kind in the U.S.
What if instead of shunning addicts, we created opportunities for them? What if instead of placing obstacles, we connected with them? What if instead of threatening our bonds with them, we supported them? What if we tried a different approach?With Smart IOP Cabaniss and Williamsville Wellness bring innovation and a whole new approach to the treatment of addiction.