January 7, 2021

The Substance Use Program at Families First is a system constantly in motion. We offer two levels of support groups tailored to addiction intervention, with multiple running at any given time. These groups are designed to be accessible, informative, and up to date offering evidence-based intervention techniques. We encourage our clients to address their needs and goals by offering a supportive, trauma-informed approach to recovery.


The substance use program begins with an assessment. Clients can call Families First and schedule an appointment with an Intake Specialist. At the time of your appointment, prepare to spend about two hours on this process, as there are a lot of questions and paperwork. Beyond logistical questions, you’ll discuss your physical health, mental health, and social health. The team is ultimately trying to determine both your needs and strengths, as well as learn more about your personal situation.

Substance Use Program Supervisor, Katie Butler said, “We don’t just look at their substance use. We look at their history, we look at their current use. We’ll look at if they’ve done treatment before, and if after completing treatment before did they start using again? What happened after that? But then we look at everything else going on in their lives too, are there any mental health issues present? Are there family problems? We look at everything,” said Katie Butler.


At Families First, there are two different levels of treatment: the Outpatient Program, and the Intensive Outpatient Program. Our system revolves around group therapy at different levels. These programs follow a specific timeline and curriculum designed to educate and build people up in their recovery.

The Outpatient Program groups meet for two hours, once a week for 12 weeks. This group focuses on educating members about substance use and addiction. Our counselors cover all necessary topics such as coping skills, healthy relationships, and setting boundaries.

The Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) requires more time and commitment than the former group. This program meets for three hours a day, three days a week for eight weeks, and then drops down to one three hour session per week for the next eight. This group’s educational piece is similar to the previous outpatient group, but IOP spends more time digging deeper with therapeutic education, essentially trying to help clients understand why they use and how to cope with those underlying motivations. This group also focuses a lot on safety planning, handling triggers, and preventing relapse.

Both programs require drug screenings and use a trauma-informed curriculum titled Seeking Safety. As supplemental support, they both require members to attend recovery support meetings outside of the FF program. These meetings could be AA or NA, or other groups like Smart Recovery or Celebrate Recovery.


Groups can range in size from 6-20 people and clients usually have a choice to join a morning, afternoon, or evening group depending on their schedule. Each session is typically led by the same counselor each time. Additionally, a recovery coach comes in once a week for a recovery support session where they teach and share from their own experience of overcoming addiction.

On preparing to enter a new group situation, Katie Butler recommends preparing yourself to dig deep and discuss sensitive topics. Overcoming addiction requires facing difficult emotions and experiences within the self, which may be new to some. “It’s not about the counselor telling you or teaching you what you need to be doing. It’s more about creating a discussion and getting feedback from clients and caring about their experiences. Everyone is an expert on their own life and we ask clients to be open with us about that,” said Katie.


Payment for these services often depends on the client’s situation. Department of Child Services pays fees for all clients referred through their office. Clients who come to us through the criminal justice system can apply for funding through a state program called Recovery Works, which helps individuals with a felony on their record who make below a certain income. We also accept most insurances and offer a sliding scale fee that prices services based on a percentage of a client’s monthly income.


Directly after clients finish with their program, they are required to do three family group sessions. These are one hour counseling sessions shared with a person you consider a support, not necessarily a family member. We try to make sure that there’s someone in your life who understands what you’re going through and can offer informed support after you’ve left our programs.

And there’s always the option to attend individual therapy with Families First during or after participation in a substance use program. We also offer an alumni group for clients who have completed support group programs, but want to stay involved, continue their relationship with other group members, and maintain their recovery. The alumni group is free and completely voluntary. They also plan different events throughout the year like family game nights or bowling nights.

At all stages of the recovery process, we try to meet our clients where they are, and help them achieve what their own personal success looks like. “For me, success isn’t just defined as completing the program,” said Katie. “Success is defined as: are they meeting their goals? Are they addressing things that they had buried? Are they really starting to heal from stuff? To us, success is defined in a lot of different ways.”