Substance use recovery proceeds along a three-fold continuum that includes withdrawal management, treatment, and aftercare. Neglecting any one of these essential components of the recovery process can disrupt your goal of achieving sustained abstinence.
Sometimes, in the haste to check treatment off the to-do list, some may fail to plan for what could be the most important part of the recovery journey: aftercare. While it’s understandable that you’re excited to return to normal life and resume daily activities, skipping aftercare can be a rapid setback to your recovery efforts.
The best time to plan your aftercare program is while you are still in treatment. By making an aftercare plan in advance of discharge, you can transition into the crucial next phase of recovery without missing a beat.
What is Aftercare?
Aftercare is like the scaffolding that holds a building together when it’s under construction. While in treatment, you carefully cultivated a recovery course, but did so within a highly structured and safe treatment environment, which is quite different from the real world. Aftercare helps protect these efforts once you step back into a normal environment.
Aftercare planning can help you manage unforeseen threats to your hard-earned sobriety and prevent a relapse. Daily stressors, triggers, difficult life events, the loss of a loved one, or a job loss are events that can overwhelm you. Participating in aftercare services provides additional layers of support during the vulnerable early phase of recovery, and dramatically increases the chances of recovery success. Consider these valuable aftercare actions:
- Outpatient therapy. Weekly group and/or individual therapy sessions offer ongoing support in the early months of recovery when triggers, challenges, or temptations might threaten recovery.
- Support groups. Attending 12 Step or similar recovery meetings provides the important social support that can offer both fellowship and accountability.
- Ongoing relapse prevention techniques. Relapse prevention plans can be fine-tuned as you move forward into the real world. Relapse prevention is a proactive process that must be constantly self-monitored and refined.
- Alumni activities. Social activities and follow-up contact with others who have completed the treatment program offers important peer support.
- Life skills. Early recovery is about rebuilding your life, and that often includes making new career or academic goals. Brushing up on interviewing techniques and resume writing via life skills classes can be very helpful in this effort.
- Sober living housing. Sober living provides a substance-free living environment that offers several recovery benefits. Sober living provides a supportive space where you can practice recovery skills prior to returning to your home.
How to Maintain Recovery with Case Management and Aftercare
After completing a treatment program, you may be referred to various adjunct services that will assist you in recovery. A case manager, usually a licensed recovery counselor, will provide some oversight and coordination of these services. They are responsible for working with various social services entities so that you can smoothly access these services as needed.
The case manager will become your advocate, helping you procure assistance for life skills, job seeking, legal counsel, medical and mental health treatment, social services, such as welfare or food stamps, overcoming housing challenges, and other services. Case management helps you make the best use of important support services that will help fortify your recovery.
Aftercare services are often included in the case management planning. All aspects of case management and aftercare work together to create a comprehensive recovery support system. Have a well-developed and thought-out aftercare plan in place prior to completing your treatment program for the best recovery outcome.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle – “everything for recovery” – reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.