Planning for Aftercare is Essential for Your Treatment Plan
Rehab is only the beginning of getting sober. Maintaining sobriety requires having a solid aftercare plan. Planning for that starts while you are still in inpatient rehab. The more planning you can put into it, the better. It is important not to make the mistake of just returning to life as it was and thinking rehab cured everything. Recovery is an ongoing, lifelong process.
There are five essential components to planning for proper aftercare. Just like your stay in rehab, your plan and course of care can be modified as you continue to move through recovery and gain more sober time.
You can’t just go through intensive rehab and stop cold turkey. It will be too much of a shock for you to get re-adjusted into the real world without the strong support you had while you were in treatment. The best choice is to continue with outpatient care. Outpatient rehab is a less-intensive version of care that allows you to go back to work or school and live at home. However, it gives you continued support and keeps recovery on the forefront of your mind. The amount of time you spend in outpatient care can slowly taper down until you are ready to just meet with a therapist once a week or so to have someone to talk to.
Your Living Situation
It is strongly suggested that you consider a sober living home as part of your aftercare plan. As long as your situation allows it, a halfway house will give you additional support and accountability. Sober living requires that you maintain a drug and alcohol-free lifestyle, and you will be randomly tested. You will need to adhere to a curfew and other house rules. It is a great way to slowly get reacquainted with real-world living while focusing strongly on your recovery.
Your Support System
It is extremely important to cut the people who you used to use or drink with out of your life. As harsh as that sounds, they generally will not have your best interest in mind, but rather they will be happy to have you relapse and join them once again. Instead, surround yourself with people who are sober – preferably for over a year. If it works for you, attend 12-step groups regularly to help with your recovery and surround yourself with people who have the same goal in mind. As they say – you are who you surround yourself with. So, surround yourself with the right people.
Knowing the Stages of Relapse
Part of recovery is knowing yourself and why you struggle with addiction in the first place. Knowing this will help to prevent future relapse. Relapse actually happens in three stages. In the first stage, you let your guard down. You may stop taking anxiety meds, or maybe you are hanging around the wrong people. It is essential to recognize your behavior at this stage so that you can prevent it from progressing.
In stage two, you are actively thinking about relapsing. You may have already set a time or contacted your dealer. Reach out to your support system so that they can talk you out of making a bad decision.
Stage three is a full-blown relapse. The physical act of ingesting your drug of choice. Relapse does happen, but it is up to you to prevent it. When it does happen, it is essential to put a stop to it, learn from your mistakes, and keep moving forward.