When you think of a substance use disorder as a disease, it is easier to understand the concept of extended care following treatment. Imagine suffering from a debilitating health condition. It is unthinkable that someone just recovering from a serious illness could just head out of the doctor’s office and immediately resume their normal activities. Of course not! Instead, the individual will likely recuperate from the effects of the disease or injury through therapeutic services, like recreational therapy, physical therapy, or occupational therapy. These supportive measures slowly guide the patient back to full functioning and strength as they recuperate.
The same is true for those in the early days of substance recovery. After completing comprehensive inpatient treatment, an extended care program provides the valuable support services that help the person further solidify their recovery efforts. New lifestyle habits take time to become second nature. By participating in an extended care program these healthy routines have an opportunity to take root within a supportive environment. The continuing care efforts act as a protective factor against relapse during early recovery and beyond.
What is Extended Care?
Substance use recovery involves a continuum of care starting with detox, rehabilitation, and extended care. The extended care piece focuses on reinforcing what is learned in treatment to further support recovery in the early months following an inpatient program. The focus of the extended care curriculum is on reducing the risk of relapse, so recovery care activities will revolve around that primary objective.
Extended care may include the following elements:
- Transitional Housing. Residing in a substance-free home environment for a designated period of time while stabilizing in recovery. Within the gender specific sober living home individuals will enjoy living alongside others also committed to a sober lifestyle. This setting allows residents to further stabilize in early recovery within a supportive living space and to establish new healthy daily habits.
- 12-step or SMART Recovery Programming. Participating in recovery communities that provide a framework for maintaining a sober lifestyle as well as social support and fellowship.
- Relapse Prevention Planning. Creating an individual relapse prevention strategy by identifying personal triggers and defining proactive steps to avoid a relapse.
- Psychotherapy. Continuing to address the underlying psychological factors that have been identified through ongoing therapy sessions. These issues might involve unresolved grief and loss or a history of trauma, or the individual may need help to shift unhealthy thought patterns.
- Support Groups. Sharing experiences, thoughts and feelings related to recovery topics, under the guidance of a licensed therapist, can promote valuable peer support.
- Life Skills Training. Taking workshops or classes that will help the individual develop practical life skills supports independent living in recovery.
- Nutritional and Fitness Plans. Emphasizing regular exercise and nutritious dietary choices will help restore health and wellness in recovery.
- Complementary Activities. Learning how to reduce stress through natural relaxation methods is key to maintaining stability in recovery. These might include yoga, meditation, equine therapy, art therapy, and practicing mindfulness.
What Are Your Recovery Care Options?
When beginning a new life after residential treatment, there are decisions to be made. Readjusting to a former life can be difficult. Do you return to your home environment immediately, or should you consider taking it a step at a time through transitional extended care services? Recovery care and support is an intrinsic part of long-term success. Continuing care helps to reinforce all that is learned in treatment while preparing you for independence in the months and years ahead.
Recovery care options may be available through your residential treatment program, possibly on campus through transitional housing and outpatient services. If not, sober living housing, outpatient therapy, and recovery meetings are all recovery care options widely available in the community. Regardless of where you obtain them, these continuing care actions will serve as protective factors to help you achieve a sustained recovery.
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 both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.