Sobriety is a lifelong commitment. Recovery from addiction doesn’t stop when your treatment period ends. In essence, aftercare is continued treatment which follows the relatively shorter period of addiction treatment, whether it be intensive outpatient drug rehab or residential substance abuse treatment.
Why Is Aftercare Important?
The results of a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) showed that more than 23 million people 12 years of age or older required treatment for substance abuse. Some substance abuse treatment centers boast success rates of more than 80%. This success is possible due to aftercare programs that help you transition from treatment to your home environment and usual routine.
An aftercare program can help you plan for expected obstacles and overcome unexpected difficulties or challenges that may occur during your recovery. However, in order for an aftercare plan to be effective, it must be designed to meet the different aspects of your life. The most effective aftercare plans are those you develop with your substance abuse counselor or addiction specialist.
Choosing the Right Aftercare Plan
Relapse prevention is the main goal of an aftercare plan, but not the only goal. Building a healthy, productive life is the long-term goal of going through rehab and achieving sobriety, so your aftercare should move you in that direction.
The details of your plan will depend on your home environment and usual routines. Every possibility for a relapse should be identified. Without an aftercare plan in place, the chances of a relapse are significantly higher. An effective aftercare plan will take into consideration all issues that might cause a relapse. Most importantly, an aftercare plan provides rehab graduates with a blueprint for the future.
Choosing your aftercare program begins before you leave treatment. This is when you will develop strategies for avoiding or handling situations that may come up once you leave the treatment center, or your outpatient treatment has concluded. For example:
- How will you avoid situations that may lead you back to using?
- What will you do if offered alcohol or drugs?
- When you feel distressed, overwhelmed, and tempted to use, who will you call?
- What is your plan for crisis situations?
- How to you plan to maintain your recovery once your inpatient or outpatient treatment has concluded?
Your aftercare plan should address goals such as:
- Obtaining employment or training
- Finding affordable housing
- Resolving mental and physical health issues
- Anger management
- Learning parenting skills
- Family reunification or reconciliation
- Continuing recovery support
Aftercare often involves support groups, 12-step meetings, counseling sessions, family nights, group therapy, and alumni events such as softball games.
Recovery is a life-long process that doesn’t end once you leave the treatment center. By developing an aftercare plan customized to your needs, you can find a supportive environment that will help guide you through life after rehab.