Once you’ve detoxed from your substance of choice, it’s important to create an addiction aftercare plan. Doing so will help stop you from relapsing and encourage you to build a new life with goals you look forward to achieving.

You should include interventions, resources, and activities in your plan to help you cope with your triggers, cravings, and stress once your treatment is over. While this may sound easy, there are many factors you need to take into consideration here.

What is an Addiction Aftercare Program?

About 20 million people in the United States suffer from addiction today. For them, getting sober is an enormous accomplishment. However, treatment doesn’t end there. You’ll also need an aftercare program. This is an ongoing treatment modality that follows withdrawal and recovery. It can occur either in an inpatient rehab facility or as part of an Intensive Outpatient Program. The important part is choosing a program that’ll work for you because then you’re less likely to relapse.

You should know that each of these programs will have its own attendance requirements. While some programs will meet daily, others will only meet a few times a week. If you have transportation available so that you can attend these sessions with regularity, this may be an option for you. It also helps if you have stable housing and support from your family and friends since you won’t live at the treatment facility.

What to Look for in Addiction Treatment Aftercare Plan

Recovery is something you must work towards each day throughout the rest of your life. Having a good aftercare plan in place will help you remain focused and on track towards success. This is especially true when you stop to realize that relapse rates are as high as 65%. With this in mind, here’s what you should include in your addiction treatment aftercare plan:

  • Your plan will provide you with an immediate next step, which will help as you transition back into “normal” living. This is where an Intensive Outpatient Program can also be beneficial.
  • Even though you’re proud of yourself for getting clean, you still need to create a relapse prevention plan. While it may feel somewhat pessimistic now, you’ll be glad to have it if you need it. Since relapse is a part of recovery, you’ll want to approach it from a practical standpoint. Doing so means creating an outline of how you’ll actively work to prevent relapse. Here you should list any warning signs and triggers (e.g., people, places, situations) you know you have. It’ll also remind you of what you should do if one occurs is something you need to do.
  • Another vital part of recovery is having a robust, reliable support system in place. With the support of people you met while in treatment, as well as your friends and family, you can overcome the temptation to return to substance abuse. You should also consider which people and things no longer fit into your lifestyle. 
  • It’s important to create a list of aftercare recovery resources you can embrace. Your list should include continuing individual therapy, family therapy, and attending 12-step support groups. Your caseworker who helped you write this plan should help you connect with these things in your local community. Don’t be surprised if you can’t continue using the same resources you did while in treatment.
  •  Besides resources, you’ll also need healthy coping strategies (e.g., having a sponsor, knowing who you can call when you feel tempted). These will help you overcome the cravings and temptations that’ll persist long beyond rehab.
  • Although you probably won’t be able to continue engaging with the same therapists and groups as you did while in a treatment facility, you should be able to contact someone at the facility. You should also be able to engage with other alumni so that you can continue assessing your progress and see if there’s something you need. Maintaining the connections you made while in treatment will also help you exchange support with people who truly know you and understand what you’re going through.

Creating an Addiction Aftercare Program

As you near the end of your time at a treatment facility, you’ll meet with a variety of therapists and caseworkers who will help you create your addiction aftercare plan. Sometimes you may also have access to an outside therapist or addiction professional to work with to create this plan.

When you work with these professionals, they’ll help you assess your situation. They’ll determine your need for things like housing, employment, and continued treatment. Much of this will depend on how far along you are in recovery, how frequently you need care and an idea of how long you’ll need this care.

Once everyone has a better understanding of your needs, you’ll work with them to locate resources either online or in your community to address these needs. For instance, if you don’t have somewhere sober to live, they will help you locate a sober living facility, as this will be an important part of remaining sober.

Everyone will also work together to assess your needs so they can determine how long the aftercare plan needs to last. While someone who is in your treatment facility with you may need weeks or months of aftercare, you may need a different schedule, it varies by situation.

Most programs recommend you remain engaged in an aftercare program for at least the first year after treatment. Adolescents should remain engaged in their program for as long as three years. Throughout this time, you will be able to modify your plan as your needs and goals continue to grow and change.

Importance of Addiction Aftercare

Aftercare Programs and Alumni Participation

In any look at rehabs, you will find that many addiction treatment facilities offer alumni programs. These are available for anyone who has successfully completed treatment and yet continues to face challenges to their sobriety. Here, you will have the tools and support you need so you can cope with your addiction while transitioning back into your home life.

Most alumni aftercare programs offer sober events, telephone support hotlines, opportunities to check in with the facility, and online support (e.g., email, forums, social media). The goal of these programs is to offer you continued support. These meetings allow you to meet others with whom you can discuss your experiences and struggles. They’re a great opportunity for you to receive advice and encouragement.

Alumni aftercare programs differ from treatment programs in that they are available for as long as you need them. It’s a good idea to actively take part in these services so you can remain strong in your recovery and find encouragement to prevent any future relapses.

Types of Aftercare Programs

There are many aftercare programs that you can engage in once you’ve completed your detox and withdrawal at a treatment facility. It’s important to know what these various programs are and how they work so you can choose the one that’s best for you. Once you’ve made this decision, your caseworker should help you make arrangements to engage in the program before leaving the treatment facility.

Sober Living

Sober living facilities (a.k.a., halfway houses, transitional living facilities, recovery residences) are houses or apartments that offer support after you leave the treatment facility. They facilitate in helping you learn how to live a healthy, sober lifestyle while also forming a sense of community in early recovery.

While living in a sober living facility, you’ll have certain responsibilities. These typically include helping to maintain the home’s cleanliness, abiding by a curfew, attending support group meetings, and remaining clean and sober. There will be a house manager or behavioral health tech who ensures you do these things. They’ll also administer drug and alcohol tests as mandated by the program.

Unfortunately, insurance rarely covers these facilities. However, most aftercare coordinators will work with you to find a halfway house that you can afford.

Intensive Outpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment Programs

When you’re looking for something less intensive, you should check out outpatient treatment programs like Intensive Outpatient Treatment. These programs will last 4 – 6 weeks and you should only consider them once you’ve completed an inpatient or residential treatment program.

Outpatient programs allow you to benefit from the support a structured addiction recovery program offers. During this time, you’ll either live in your own home or at a sober house.

Intensive Outpatient Programs comprise a three-hour meeting at least three times weekly. You’ll also have a weekly meeting one-on-one with your therapist. This is a great way to receive additional accountability since the facility will screen you for drugs and alcohol multiple times each week.

Most of these programs work with insurance providers. Therefore, your aftercare caseworker will help you find one of these programs. Since these programs vary somewhat from one another, they’ll also work with you to determine which one will be the best fit.

Individual Therapy

With individual therapy, you’ll work one-on-one with a therapist. Usually, you meet with your therapist weekly, but there are many therapists who will adjust their schedules so they can meet with you more frequently when necessary.

One of the major benefits of your aftercare plan is that it’ll ensure you have a therapist available to focus on your individual needs. This will increase the likelihood that you’ll succeed with your recovery. You can find a therapist who works with your insurance. If you’re struggling to do so, your aftercare program will work with you to find one who best meets your needs.

Importance of Addiction Aftercare

Aftercare and Sober Living

It’s important for your recovery that you have stable sober housing in place. This is because living in an environment where you’re surrounded by drugs and alcohol may result in you craving to abuse your substance of choice again. If this is something you’re concerned about, you may want to look for a sober living facility.

A sober living facility will ensure that there aren’t any drugs or alcohol inside of the residency. This allows you to have a safe, supportive environment throughout your recovery. The point of creating this environment is to allow you to build the resources you need to help you remain sober as you transition into independent living.

Your treatment facility will work on this option with you while creating your addiction aftercare program. In doing so, it’s important for them to know where you want to live and how much you can afford to pay for “rent.” Once you find a few homes that you feel would be right for you, the home’s staff may interview you to see if you fit well with the home. This is also an opportunity for you to tour the home and have your questions answered.

While living in one of these homes, you can’t use drugs or alcohol. You must follow the house rules while working on your recovery. Each home will have its own rules, but you should expect to have chores to do, a curfew in place, and only be able to entertain guests at certain times of the day. You’ll also be able to work and volunteer. Some programs will even help you find a job or volunteer opportunity. Many of these facilities also mandate their residents participate in 12-step meetings since doing so will result in better outcomes.

The halfway house will charge you a fee for residing at the home based on the length of your stay. The length of stay will vary widely depending on the client, but these facilities aren’t intended to be a long-term option. Instead, they’re meant to help you establish sobriety so you can move into a different level of care (e.g., living in your own home).

Group Support and Aftercare Programs

There are also free recovery meetings available. These are informal self-help groups you and your family can participate in while in recovery. You’ll find that there are many types of meetings, but they all have one thing in common: you will meet others who are in recovery and be able to support one another.

The most popular type of self-help group are 12-step groups. These groups use a set of 12 steps to encourage recovery and stress abstinence from your drug of choice. Even within 12-step meetings, you’ll encounter different focuses (e.g., men, women, LGBT) and topics. As a member of one of these groups, you’ll be able to share your experiences, help other members, and form a relationship with your higher power. You’ll also work with a sponsor (an experienced member in long-term recovery).

You can go online to find a meeting near you. Once you find a website that lists groups that meet near your home, you’ll receive the group’s local chapter information and meeting times. They usually hold these meetings in a public building, such as a church. Make sure you read through all of this information to ensure you find something that works for you.

If you find that 12-step programs don’t work for you, there are other philosophies you may feel more comfortable with. Your caseworker can help you find these various types of meetings. One you may wish to try is SMART recovery groups. These recovery groups are based on scientifically proven cognitive therapy techniques. In these groups, you’ll learn how to replace your negative emotions, thinking patterns, and actions with more balanced and fulfilling life choices.

Ongoing Therapy and Outpatient Services

When you’ve already completed inpatient or residential addiction treatment and yet you’re still facing triggers and challenges in your recovery, it’s important to have a therapist to work with. This is also a great way to work through any mental health issues and improve your life skills (e.g., communication, relationships). Since this is an important part of your addiction aftercare program, your caseworker will help you find the right therapist to continue assisting you.

There’s no reason for you to be concerned about going without therapy after you leave the treatment center. You’ll find that there are many therapists who will accept your insurance and if you’re uninsured, a sliding fee payment scale may be available. Once you’re established with a therapist, they should be flexible in scheduling sessions with you.

It can also be important to note that you may not find the right therapist immediately since you need someone with who you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings. Therefore, it is also important that you don’t give up regardless of how many therapists you need to meet with to find the right person for you, this single factor can make a huge difference in your recovery. 

Supporting Recovery with Aftercare Planning

Planning for an addiction aftercare program will not only help you transition back into society, but it’ll also enhance your life as you do so. The program will hold you accountable to being honest. It will also help you to focus on building a community around you that will help you focus on remaining sober and taking care of any underlying mental health conditions. At Divine Detox, our aftercare planning will help you to live the life you’d only dreamed of before. We truly care about your success and look forward to working with you soon.

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