Leaving Addiction Treatment? Don’t Forget Your Aftercare Plan
Completing time at a drug or alcohol addiction treatment center is the first big step toward recovery from an addiction. While there, you will get the support and structure needed to make healthy life changes and start on the road to recovery.
Leaving all of that structure and support to return to your daily life can be scary. Who will you turn to when you need support? What happens when you have a craving? How will you make sure you don’t relapse? What will you do with all of your free time?
A good addiction treatment center will help you to answer these questions by putting together an aftercare plan. Before you leave addiction treatment, you and your therapist will put together a plan that will help you to stay sober and minimize the risk of relapse.
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Addiction Treatment Aftercare Plan
Aftercare plans are individualized to you based on your needs, concerns, and lifestyle. However, there are some elements that are included in most addiction treatment aftercare plans:
- Continuing counseling: Even when you are done with addiction treatment, you may still need to participate in ongoing therapy. Whether that’s outpatient treatment or returning to individual therapy, make plans for continued counseling before you leave addiction treatment so that there is no gap in your support.
- Support programs: Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are two programs that can help you get ongoing support from your peers. These organizations follow a 12-step model to help you commit yourself to sobriety. At meetings you’re going to meet people who have similar issues – it will give you the opportunity to open up and share your experiences with others.
- Volunteering: Doing volunteer work can help you to feel connected and take on some responsibilities in an environment that is happy to have you there. You may be able to do some volunteer work for your addiction treatment center, but you also have a chance to do some work in an area that’s always interested you, whether it’s the environment or working with kids.
- Engaging in positive activities: Rather than focus on preventing relapse, adopt the approach of focusing on positive things you can do, which will automatically keep your mind off drugs or alcohol. Enroll in some courses you’ve always wanted to take or finish that book you started writing a couple of years ago.
- Getting in shape: As you continue to ease yourself back into a normal life, it can be essential to check into a fitness or holistic health program. Exercise will not only keep you in shape, but also build stamina and curb your cravings for drug or alcohol. It is also imperative to fuel your body with good food. Balanced nutrition and exercise will help minimize the damage of addiction, and help build your strength and immunity back.
- Get support from family and friends: You can’t do this alone. You’re going to need loads of support. Remember, you’re still in a very vulnerable state and you want to have people to turn to when you have a craving or find yourself in a dangerous situation. Your friends and family will act as your scaffold against relapse. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. They’ll be more than glad to help.
As you progress through sobriety, you may need to reevaluate and alter your aftercare plan so that it’s more relevant to your current situation. Just remember that sticking to your aftercare plan is important to preventing relapse of your drug or alcohol addiction, so it’s always wise to have one in place both when you leave addiction treatment and for as long as you need one.
Since 2004, Lori has worked with the behavioral health treatment community to bring awareness about mental health disorders and evidence-based treatments. Lori strives to help people better understand mental illness and provide support to those needing help and their families. As a mental health advocate, Lori works to be a voice for those suffering from substance abuse, dual diagnosis, borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, trauma, or any other disorder.