Day Treatment at NorthStar Recovery Center in Southborough, MA


The iconic author and philosopher Eckhart Tolle said, “The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment: You create a good future by creating a good present.” People in active addiction often find themselves in two places – one is regretting the past, and two is fearing the future. They are rarely in the present moment, and if they are, they are quick to blot it out with alcohol and drugs. So, when that present moment pops when an individual is ready to get help, they must get the right help. Effective day treatment offers that help.

The Prevalence of Addiction and Mental Illness in the U.S.

Addiction and mental illness are certainly in the public conversation today. However, many people may not realize just how prevalent they really are. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “7.7 million adults have co-occurring mental and substance use disorders… Of the 20.3 million adults with substance use disorders, 37.9% also had mental illnesses,” and “Among the 42.1 million adults with mental illness, 18.2% also had substance use disorders.”

Unfortunately, many of these individuals don’t end up getting the proper addiction and/or mental health care that they ultimately need. According to NIDA, “[D]ata from 2020 shows that only 13 percent of people with drug use disorders receive any treatment.” Also, “Only 11 percent of people with opioid use disorder receive one of the three safe and effective medications that could help them quit and stay in recovery.” Also, many people who seek recovery wind up in the wrong treatment program or with an ineffective recovery plan.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Recovery Program for You

There are many different types of treatment. The most common are residential care and day treatment. Residential addiction and mental health care are for those individuals who require more round-the-clock attention and tend to be at the more severe stages of mental illness or addiction. This type of treatment is also very helpful for individuals who struggle with relapse.

Many people don’t realize just how prevalent relapse is. According to the peer-reviewed journal Current Psychiatry Reports, “It has long been known that addictive disorders are chronic and relapsing in nature. Recent estimates from clinical treatment studies suggest that more than two-thirds of individuals relapse within weeks to months of initiating treatment.” Also, “For 1-year outcomes across alcohol, nicotine, weight, and illicit drug abuse, studies show that more than 85% of individuals relapse and return to drug use within 1 year of treatment.” Day treatment can also be helpful for people who struggle with relapse when they try to recover on their own.

Better Understanding Day Treatment

Day treatment is a form of recovery that allows the individual an opportunity to work on their recovery while also maintaining a connection to their day-to-day lives. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who have responsibilities that they must attend to during the recovery process. This may include family, school, and/or work obligations.

Many people often look at day treatment as a less intensive form of treatment than residential care. With effective day treatment, this is not the case. Day treatment fully engages the individual and fully immerses them in the process while they are at the treatment center. The primary difference is they still live and function off the property. This is just one of the benefits of day treatment.

The Benefits of Day Treatment

Day treatment offers a myriad of benefits. Yes, flexibility may be the most prominent one, but there are many others. The following are just a few more of the benefits of day treatment:

  • It helps connect individuals to other people in recovery (helps create a “sober network”)
  • Offers the support needed to focus on recovery
  • Connects individuals with a recovery community while they are still in treatment
  • Reduces the chance of relapse
  • Keeps individuals accountable for their recovery
  • Helps teach crucial life skills needed to maintain long-term recovery
  • Begins the therapy process
  • Provides essential structure needed for recovery
  • Keeps individuals connected to any necessary medical help
  • Connects individuals with alumni resources once they are done with day treatment
  • Often offers an opportunity to “step down” to a sober living facility

As one can see, these benefits can be crucial for attaining and maintaining long-term recovery. These benefits can also be experienced by most people who choose day treatment.

Who Is Best Suited for Day Treatment?

Individuals best suited for day treatment are those who are struggling with issues of addiction and mental illness but are still functional enough for day-to-day life. Day treatment is also best suited for people who are willing to do the work because it involves intensive work.

A few people that day treatment may not be suited for are those who are coming right out of detox and still need 24/7 attention to avoid harming themselves or others (including those who have a history of relapsing right after detox). It may also not be for individuals who currently live in toxic “triggering” situations that may keep them from fully focusing on their recovery.

It should also be noted that insurance and financial factors can play a part in getting into day treatment. However, one should never put finance over recovery, and there are often many ways in which a person can get the help they need, such as working out a payment plan with a recovery center. The key is to reach out and ask – most recovery centers have an admissions center that will be happy to help get an individual into the right place and type of treatment for them.

What Does Effective Day Treatment Look Like?

Effective day treatment is going to look specific in two ways. It is going to look individualized, and it is going to look comprehensive.

This means that each recovery plan will have a focus on each client’s specific needs. This includes a proper intake that focuses on their backstory, their current needs, and their goals for the future. It will also take into account any co-occurring disorders that an individual may have, as well as any family dynamics they may be dealing with.

Comprehensive care means that a recovery plan utilizes many means, methods, and modalities to help individuals recover. These types of treatment should be pulled from all different areas of recovery such as the psychotherapeutic, the experiential, and the holistic.

Effective day treatment will also look very active. It should involve an entire week of work (a minimum of five days) with full days of treatment (a minimum of six hours a day). Day treatment should also expect the individual to do work while they are not at the recovery center. This often includes connecting to a recovery community and attending recovery meetings (such as 12-Step meetings).

Therapy and Day Treatment

One of the most important components of day treatment is therapy. The primary type of therapy is often psychotherapy like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

These types of therapy can get to the underlying issues of one’s addictive behaviors. As is often the case, “the substance is but a ‘symptom’ of deeper issues.” Many times, these issues include trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is much more common than many people may think. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the National Center for PTSD, “About 6 out of every 100 people (or 6% of the U.S. population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.” Also, “About 5 out of every 100 adults (or 5%) in the U.S. has PTSD in any given year. In 2020, about 13 million Americans had PTSD.” Effective psychotherapy in day treatment will address these underlying issues of PTSD.

Another type of therapy that is often used in day treatment is experiential therapy. These are therapies that focus on experiences (either active experiences or creative ones) to help individuals work through their issues. Perhaps the most common type of experiential therapy is art therapy. Art therapy helps individuals and their therapists analyze artistic choices and end products to help work through and address the issues an individual is dealing with.

Working With Others in Day Treatment

One of the most important aspects of recovery is connecting and working with others who have “shared experience.” This is discussed in the primary text of 12-Step recovery (often referred to as the Big Book). The book states, “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking [and using] as intensive work with other [people in recovery]. It works when other activities fail… You can help when no one else can.”

Working with others in recovery can also come out of connections made in group therapy, which is often another critical component of day treatment. Connecting with others while in treatment also makes it much easier to connect to others outside of treatment, which can be essential.

Connecting With a Recovery Community While in Day Treatment

It is often said in recovery that one needs to get “in the middle of the herd.” This means that getting involved in a recovery community can be very helpful in keeping one sober and avoiding a potential relapse.

Many people think of getting involved in a recovery community as simply going to meetings. However, while this is important, it is the minimum that one can do. It is often much more effective to join a “home group” of a recovery community and volunteer one’s time. This might involve greeting people at the door, making coffee, or even leading the meeting. This service can be vital in keeping one sober in the long term.

Creating a Healthy Lifestyle in Day Treatment

Day treatment is also a great way to create a healthy “design for living.” This means learning essential life skills like financial responsibility and sleep hygiene (creating healthy sleep cycles). It also often means bringing healthy holistic practices into one’s life, like yoga and meditation.

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years to help people quiet their minds and find inner peace. Originally, yoga was practiced solely for religious or spiritual purposes, but it has since moved into the realm of recovery.

Yoga offers a myriad of benefits that can help individuals with addiction and mental health recovery. According to the International Journal of Yoga (IJOY), “Therapeutic yoga is defined as the application of yoga postures and practice to the treatment of health conditions. Yoga therapy involves instruction in yogic practices and teachings to prevent reduce or alleviate structural, physiological, emotional and spiritual pain, suffering or limitations. Yogic practices enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall well-being and quality of life.” Meditation also offers similar benefits.

Meditation is a great practice to learn in day treatment because not only does it have benefits, but it can go virtually anywhere the individual goes. According to the International Quarterly Journal of Ayurveda (AYU), “During the process of meditation, accumulated stresses are removed, energy is increased, and health is positively affected overall. Research has confirmed a myriad of health benefits associated with the practice of meditation. These include stress reduction, decreased anxiety, decreased depression, reduction in pain (both physical and psychological), improved memory, and increased efficiency.” It can also help with goal-setting.

Setting Goals in Day Treatment

Day treatment also offers a great opportunity to set goals for the future. Yes, these include goals regarding staying sober, but they also include familial, financial, and social goals.

Another big part of setting goals in recovery is connecting with loved ones and healing together. Many people understand that addiction is a disease, but they may not be aware that it is a “family disease” as well. This means the entire family is affected by one person’s addiction. It also means that the entire family may require help to heal.

Day treatment can offer an opportunity for the family to both heal together and apart. This may include individual therapy and counseling as well as family therapy, both with and without the individual who is in day treatment. This can also be a big help when it comes to transitioning back into everyday life.

Transitioning Back Into Everyday Life After Day Treatment

Day treatment is not just about the present moment, but it is also about the long term. This is one of the paradoxes of recovery – one must “live one day at a time” in order to attain long-term recovery.

Day treatment can help this transition back into day-to-day life because an individual always maintains some connection to their outside lives while also focusing on their recovery in the treatment center. Many recovery centers also help this transition happen by offering comprehensive alumni support services. These alumni services help individuals stay connected to other people in recovery, as well as offer support and relapse prevention plans.

The Importance of Enjoying Recovery and Long-Term Success at NorthStar Recovery

Eckhart Tolle also famously said, “Always say ‘yes’ to the present moment… Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life – and see how life starts suddenly to start working for you rather than against you.” When the opportunity presents itself, it is also time to “say yes” to recovery. For many, it is time to “say yes” to day treatment.”

Here at NorthStar Recovery Center, we know that seeking help for addiction can be daunting. However, we also know that seeking help for addiction is one of the best choices an individual will ever make.

Recovery is possible, and there is hope. The key is to reach out, take the first step, and ask for help. Once that happens, we will always be here at NorthStar Recovery Center to help take the next steps toward a life beyond what was once unimaginable.

For many people, day treatment is the best option for recovery. This is due to the convenience of these programs and how they allow individuals to seek treatment while continuing to handle their daily responsibilities. Day treatment is also a great way to stay focused on one’s recovery without having to commit to residential care. If you feel like you or a loved one are struggling with issues of addiction, mental illness, or co-occurring disorders, we can help get you on the right road to long-term recovery right away. For more information about the benefits that day treatment provides, please reach out to NorthStar Recovery Center today at (888) 311-0911.