Millions of Americans struggle with drug or alcohol abuse and addiction. Addiction is a chronic illness so, like diabetes or heart disease, it can’t be cured. However, it can be managed and individuals can lead relatively normal lives with the right treatment. It’s essential that people battling addiction receive ongoing care long after they leave rehab. This is known as aftercare and the process as an Addiction aftercare program.
An addiction aftercare program can involve several components, but outpatient treatment, 12-step meetings, sober living, and counseling are common features. It may be difficult to think about these things early in your sobriety journey but creating an aftercare plan allows you to prepare for the challenges you’ll face and devise solutions. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of supporting recovery with aftercare planning.
What Is an Addiction Aftercare Program?
An aftercare program includes interventions, resources, and activities designed to support a person after they leave rehab. The program helps to prevent relapse and assists the individual as they work towards their new goals.
Having an aftercare plan is more important than you may think. People who want to quit drinking or using drugs often focus on a detox or spending time in rehab. These are two very important stages of the recovery journey but they don’t fully prepare individuals for returning to their home and community. Many people struggle to transition out of treatment and the risk of relapse is high in the first few months after intensive treatment.
Between 40 and 60 percent of people in recovery relapse at some point in time. This is characteristic of chronic disease and on par with relapse rates for hypertension, diabetes, and asthma. Though going back to using drugs or alcohol is common, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on avoiding relapse in aftercare.
Developing an aftercare program in the early stages ensures you’ll have support when you leave rehab. You’ll know exactly where to turn as you continue to work on all the issues surrounding your addiction.
Each person’s aftercare program will look different since each person has different challenges, strengths, needs, and targets. However, common features include:
- Staying in a sober living facility
- Joining your rehab centers’ alumni program
- Attending recovery meetings
- Finding a sponsor
- Participating in individual or group therapy sessions
What Goes into Creating an Aftercare Plan
As your time in rehab draws to a close, you’ll meet with your case manager or therapist to set up an addiction aftercare program. However, you also have the option of working with an outside addiction professional or counselor to devise your plan. If you traveled for rehab but you need to return home, you may want to work with someone closer to where you live.
The plan will depend on how advanced you are in your recovery and how much additional care you will need. If you need assistance with finding safe housing or a job, your therapist will take this into consideration.
Once your needs have been established, you’ll work with your therapist to identify resources to meet those needs. Therefore, if your home environment isn’t conducive to sober living, your addiction aftercare plan may include moving into a halfway house.
The duration of your aftercare program will be based on your specific needs. It is usually recommended that individuals in recovery access follow-up care for at least a year after leaving rehab. However, some people may be advised to participate in just weeks or months of aftercare. It’s important to note that the plan isn’t set in stone. It is likely to be modified over time in response to your changing needs and goals.
Types of Aftercare Programs
Completing residential treatment is a wonderful accomplishment. However, you’ll face a variety of stressors and triggers when you return to your home, community, or workplace. You’ll need to make a conscious decision to stay sober even when things are difficult. That’s why it’s so important that you continue to receive care long after leaving rehab.
People who have struggled with addiction are more likely to avoid relapse when they actively participate in aftercare programs. You will probably participate in more than one type of program as you progress through your recovery journey. Let’s look at some of the options.
Ongoing Therapy and Outpatient Services
It is important that you enter an outpatient treatment program or continue attending therapy. This will enable you to keep working on your mental health issues and also come up with a plan for preventing relapse. Outpatient services also give you an opportunity to work on strengthening your relationship with your family.
Before your inpatient treatment ends, your treatment team will discuss the next steps with you. Most people need a program that gives them a little more freedom while also remaining quite structured. Some outpatient programs require participants to meet every day while others only require one or two meetings per week. Outpatient programs are best for individuals who can attend counseling on a regular basis and have stable living arrangements and a supportive social circle and.
Outpatient treatment can take the form of:
- Partial hospitalization programs. This is when the patient visits a treatment center for up to 20 hours per week to access therapy and medical services. It can follow inpatient treatment or be used to stabilize an individual who has relapsed.
- Intensive outpatient programs. These typically require a minimum of nine hours per week. Patients usually participate in lots of group therapy and some individual sessions over several weeks or months.
- Standard outpatient programs. These are similar to intensive programs but they require fewer hours. Standard programs are often a step down from intensive outpatient treatment.
Many addiction recovery centers offer alumni programs for people who have completed residential treatment. These programs are designed to connect individuals in recovery with sober peers who can offer support. They equip participants with the tools to cope with addiction as they return home.
In your group meetings, you’ll discuss your experiences, challenges, and successes and receive advice and encouragement. Alumni groups often host fun activities that provide an opportunity for you to practice socializing without drugs or alcohol.
Alumni programs often run for an extended time so you can participate for as long as needed. Taking part in the various activities can help you to stay away from drugs or alcohol in the long term.
Sober Living Facilities
Search for addiction aftercare and sober living is likely to come up. That’s because having stable, drug-free housing is an important part of recovery. If you live in a home where people use illegal substances or drink in excess, you will be tempted to use them as well. It can be very hard to resist those temptations. If your living arrangements aren’t ideal, it may be best for you to move into a sober living home.
What is a Sober Living Home?
This is a residence that’s designed to offer a safe, supportive environment in which to recover. Halfway houses are the most popular form of sober living. No drugs or alcohol are allowed since the aim is to help residents transition to living on their own. If you move into a sober living home, you’ll be expected to follow the rules and work on maintaining your sobriety. While each residence has its own rules, individuals generally have to adhere to a curfew and carry out chores. Some programs offer assistance in finding jobs or volunteer opportunities.
Sober living facilities often urge or require residents to attend 12-step meetings such as those offered by Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous. Some research shows that involvement in a 12-step program while living in a halfway house can lead to more positive results.
It’s important to note that sober living residences are only temporary. The length of your stay will depend on your circumstances. However, once you’ve remained sober for a certain period, you’ll either return to the community or step up to a different level of support if you’re still experiencing significant challenges.
Your treatment providers can assist you in finding a suitable residence. However, you also have the option of researching facilities on your own and contacting them to find out if they’re right for you. Keep in mind that you’ll need to pay weekly or monthly fees so it needs to be somewhere you can afford
Drug Addiction Recovery Meetings
While support is necessary, there’s also a role for self-help in addiction treatment. Some aspects of your addiction aftercare program, such as recovery meetings, can be quite informal. These are free groups for people who are in recovery. Recovery meetings provide an opportunity for individuals to meet other people who are on a similar journey and give and receive support.
The most popular type of recovery meeting is the 12-step group which puts emphasis on abstaining from substance use. While these programs have a spiritual focus, they’re not tied to any particular religion. In these groups, members follow a set series of steps aimed at helping them to take responsibility for their actions, share their journey with others, and learn from more experienced members.
Some meetings are open to everyone while others are specifically for youth, men, women, LGBT individuals, or other special demographics. This means you’re likely to find a meeting that suits your needs.
However, if you’re not comfortable with the philosophies of 12-step programs, you can try one of the alternatives to AA for aftercare. While AA is popular, it’s not the only option. Your therapist can help you to find an appropriate option in your area. You can even try out a few different types of recovery meetings until you find the one that’s right for you.
The Role of Sponsorship in Aftercare
You will be encouraged to find a sponsor if you join a 12-step program. A sponsor is an individual who is also in recovery but who has been sober for at least a year. They provide guidance to another person who is trying to maintain their sobriety. Your sponsor needs to be someone with whom you’re comfortable and to whom you can relate.
Many people who are in recovery find it extremely helpful to cultivate a relationship with a sponsor early on. That way, they have someone to talk to when they’re experiencing drug or alcohol cravings. Your sponsor can help you to come up with a way to stay sober when you feel triggered or overwhelmed.
Other Available Resources for Recovery Aftercare
Individuals who have been addicted to drugs often experience a wide range of issues relating to their sobriety. Not everything is specifically about drug or alcohol use. Therefore, you’ll likely need support from people other than clinical or medical professionals. You may be dealing with legal issues or finding it hard to keep a job. The stress associated with these problems can lead to relapse if you don’t get practical assistance. Your addiction aftercare program, therefore, needs to cover these aspects of your life as well.
Your therapist or counselor may need to connect you with additional services such as:
- Academic support
- Career counseling
- Community support
- Legal advice
- Financial planning
People who have struggled with addiction often don’t have easy access to this type of assistance. They may have alienated the people who could help them or their lack of social support could have been a contributor to their substance abuse in the first place. Fortunately, a well-conceived aftercare program can help to turn things around.
Get in Touch with Circle of Hope to Learn More
Maintaining sobriety is challenging but there’s lots of help available and it can be customized to suit your needs. Regardless of which stage of your recovery you’re at, the professionals at Circle of Hope in Los Angeles can help. Our luxury facility provides a wide range of services inclusive of addiction aftercare. We’ll help you come up with a plan for maintaining your newfound sobriety and adjusting to sober living. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help get you started on the road to recovery!