Substance use recovery is what happens after a person finishes treatment and begins the journey of healing. Aftercare planning in treatment is essential to help people put the pieces of their life back together in a way that makes some logical sense. Developing an aftercare plan helps them to figure out what to do with the challenges they face, work out how to navigate issues around triggers and cravings, while also developing friendships with others in recovery. A healthy aftercare plan can be as diverse and varied as needed to suit the individual. Success requires well-thought-out planning and understanding of the components of effective aftercare.
Aftercare is a plan to support someone early in recovery, to prevent relapse, and help them move towards their life goals. An aftercare plan includes interventions, resources to help them with stress and cravings and figure out how to cope with triggers. Each person’s aftercare plan varies based on their needs. Every individual should have their own plan. This might include some of the following things:
- 12-Step or other programs or groups.
- Sober or transitional living spaces.
- Alumni program involvement.
- Individual or group counseling.
Aftercare planning is vital because many people face challenges with their transition out of treatment. People who are in recovery are always at risk of relapse, but it is highest during this vulnerable timeframe. The development of an aftercare plan and strategy can provide tools and resources to cope with any issue that may arise.
An aftercare plan is not done in a vacuum. Therapists, trained counselors, and others will create a support network to develop strategies and plans for how to deal with what comes up in recovery. A therapist can help consider what to do with housing, employment, or continued treatment. The plan may also depend on how far into treatment a person is and how long they need care. With these needs identified, a person can work with a therapist to find resources in the local community and online that help address these areas. The length of a plan depends on what a person needs from it. Most plans cover at least a year. Most programs recommend a person be in aftercare at least that long so they can develop the best strategies for growth and healing going forward. Modifications are always necessary as a person grows and changes in recovery.
When someone wants to join an alumni program, they are stating they have finished treatment in a facility and are wanting to challenge themselves further in recovery. Aftercare plans that include alumni programs provide tools and support to help a person cope with a substance use disorder as they transition home following treatment. A healthy treatment program will likely offer lots of sober events, in-person or telephone check-ins, or online support, and social media support. Alumni programs are designed much like college alumni programs. They help people feel encouraged, involve participation in sober activities, and let people enjoy life without the use of substances or alcohol.
Seeking Ongoing Therapy
The therapeutic work does not end when treatment does. People who complete inpatient or outpatient work often find they need additional support to face real-world challenges. Transitioning to an outpatient program or meeting with a therapist can help that person continue to address critical issues. Counseling and therapy are not just for that person, but the whole family. They can discuss ongoing needs in treatment, assist with outpatient programs, and seek private therapists. Private therapy offers flexible scheduling, insurance, and sliding fee scales for people who cannot afford the full cost. Structured outpatient programs have different goals and a different mindset. Still, the outcome is the same: recovery and sobriety for those enrolled in a treatment program.
Strong aftercare has to incorporate family, friends, loved ones, and community. There are many ways to do this, and no two ways are alike. There are some key things to keep in mind when building a healthier support network in recovery:
- Know that not everyone will be happy with sobriety goals or recovery. Focus on being educated about how to handle life’s challenges and don’t let others tear down recovery.
- Create and maintain healthy boundaries. Empathize with what a loved one is going through but don’t enable them. Be educated on the signs they are relapsing and seek support from like-minded groups of family and friends with loved ones who have a substance use disorder.
- Celebrate successes and encourage healthy habits. The loved one has been working hard (or oneself), and it takes immense effort to figure out how to navigate life in recovery.
Aftercare is going to look different for everyone. Plan for all contingencies, but don’t wait for relapse to happen. Seek opportunities to get out there and find ways to be hopeful that this time will be different and will bring the peace and joy of a healthy recovery.
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.