Outpatient programs are designed to give people in recovery more freedom. It is crucial to learn the balance of focusing more on living well within the current lifestyle (work, family, home) and still put effort into recovery. It is still a lot of work and requires diligence and planning. Organizing aftercare is key to supporting and helping a loved one find healing in recovery. A safety net of resources and services can help someone feel supported in recovery and lower the risk of relapse.
Why Aftercare Planning Works
Stopping substance use and finishing treatment is an accomplishment that should be recognized. It is the first step of the journey and in order to continue the success of living a sober life, development of an aftercare plan is important to relapse prevention. It provides a sense of empowerment and security as well as assisting in building confidence. Many treatment professionals discuss a “continuum of care,” referring to different levels of treatment and support available. A long-term journey of healing with outpatient services means combining various modalities to help a person lower the risk of relapse and maintain a connection to loved ones. A person’s level of aftercare treatment should match current needs and allow that person freedom to access more or less intensive care as needed. Aftercare routines and therapies can develop into healthy habits that focus on self-care and continued success.
Planning In Treatment
If a person starts with inpatient care, they can work with a treatment team to develop ideas for their recovery and transition to outpatient care. Before finishing the program, an aftercare plan will be worked out with consideration to the individual needs of the patient. The plan should be clear to understand and follow, like outlining 12-Step meetings, the number of times per week to attend, family and individual therapy sessions, enrollment in outpatient treatment, and necessary services to bring healing. Good relapse prevention planning means a person and their providers can deal with triggers they may encounter and how to manage them.
Beginning Outpatient Work
The plan for aftercare is important because it helps people find the level of care that works for their daily routine. If it does not work for them, they are less likely to succeed. Some questions to consider when thinking about outpatient treatment may include:
- What other programs exist that may help the person stay connected to their home base?
- How many hours or days per week is the commitment?
- What activities take place?
- What are the outside connection opportunities?
- Is there insurance coverage?
- Can family be part of the therapeutic process?
Creating deliberate expectations upfront is critical so everyone is working toward the same goals. Prior to starting a program, it helps to know what to expect. An initial intake assessment may be needed to identify treatment goals and give a general outline of the process. Setting healthy expectations and remaining positive and committed to a sober lifestyle offers many benefits and rewards.
Outpatient treatment provides services in an environment where the person can come and go at their own pace. With a proper outline of the services they need, the person will be able to develop key strategies to support their recovery, which can include:
- Education about substance use disorders and their specific issues that the patient may encounter.
- Help with connecting to support groups that meet the needs of the individual with the fewest obstacles.
- Medication management so that dosages are not altered.
- Family counseling and individual counseling for family members.
- Group and individual therapy of various styles to fit the goals and lifestyle of the patient.
Additional services help a person grow in confidence and self-efficacy. Other programs might help them address living environment, housing, employment, and recreational activities. An outpatient program provides structure as the participant’s transition from inpatient treatment and learn how to live in a new world without substances. They can learn how to cope with emotional stressors in healthy ways and discover means of communicating to establish and maintain healthy relationships. This is key to long-term sobriety.
Having a plan for aftercare is crucial, but what happens after that is anyone’s guess. It depends on the person, their goals, how far they get in those goals, and what their desire is next. If they have felt pretty good about recovery, they may decide to step away from outpatient work a little at a time and start becoming self-sufficient with the tools they learned to use. While they may stay connected to 12-Step groups or community supports, a person who is working well with recovery may, years down the road, experience healing and move away from the intense schedule they had early on. They may even step into greater support roles for other people in recovery. Evaluation is key to helping someone complete outpatient treatment because it helps them move forward and monitor progress. Whatever the path may be, there will always be support there to help someone willing to reach out and ask for help.
Ashley Addiction Treatment is an innovative treatment program located on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Ashley provides support for professionals seeking help with addiction. We are able to help people with co-occurring disorders and offer confidential treatment programs to meet your needs. Please reach out to us today at (800) 799-4673.