The day you complete a recovery program can be an incredibly joyful experience. At the same time, it can be pretty scary. You may be in a structured in-patient treatment facility or regular outpatient appointments, but the idea of suddenly tackling recovery and sobriety alone can cause a lot of stress. This is why it is important to develop an aftercare plan for an easier transition. The purpose of an aftercare plan is to support your transition from recovery, prevent relapse, and meet goals.
What an Aftercare Plan Looks Like
There are different components of aftercare plans that you can consider. Arguably the most crucial is a relapse prevention plan. While you are in recovery, a specialist can work to discover your triggers and provide you with the necessary coping strategies. This way, if you do feel a craving brought on by a trigger, you will be better prepared to deal with them healthily. You may rehearse your relapse plan while in recovery to help you feel comfortable with the steps you will take to prevent any possible relapse.
A relapse prevention plan should help you understand relapse. First, it is a process, not a singular event. There are different categories of relapse: emotional, mental, and physical. Effective relapse plans will help you understand the signs of each stage of relapse and what exactly is happening in each stage. For instance, in the emotional stage, you’re not thinking about using again, but your emotions are setting you up for a possible relapse. Your plan should also include self-care strategies to help deal with each stage of relapse, if they should arise.
Your aftercare plan may involve mental health counseling post-treatment. Often, addiction is accompanied by mental illness. Many people who suffer from undiagnosed or untreated mental health disorders become addicted because they use drugs to “self-medicate.” To best prevent relapse, it’s important to take care of any mental health disorders you may experience, including trauma disorders. Abusing drugs can be a very traumatic experience, or can lead to traumatic experiences. People who suffer from trauma are more likely to abuse drugs than their counterparts. Unaddressed trauma post-treatment is a risk for relapse.
Any type of stress has the potential to send you into the emotional stage of relapse. Life after addiction is especially stressful because you may be dealing with mending damaged relationships, finding a stable job, or perhaps legal issues that may have arisen from your addiction. Attending counseling, whether it is one-on-one or group therapy, can be beneficial when dealing with these issues. In group therapy, there is an empathetic environment of non-judgment that may be the positive support you need. Finding a supportive environment is crucial to the recovery process. You may find that the hardest part of recovery was having to end unhealthy relationships. It’s important to surround yourself with people who live healthy lifestyles. These steps will help prevent triggers that may be associated with environmental cues.
Sober living homes can also be part of an aftercare plan. It may be easier to transition from inpatient treatment to outpatient if you still have a supportive environment to return to even if you can move freely. Many people who have not suffered from addictions have a hard time understanding or empathizing with it. This can make some living environments stressful, especially if there is little respect for the process you are working through. This is part of finding a supportive environment. Sober living houses may require drug testing to monitor your sobriety. While the idea of drug testing may seem uncomfortable, it’s the best way for professionals to catch a relapse quickly to give you the support and tools you need to gain sobriety again.
What to Look for in Aftercare Programs
Aftercare plans are very important, and many treatment facilities will help you build an aftercare plan. If this is not available to you, talk to your care provider about creating one before you leave treatment. Being proactive in preventing relapse is best. There are a few qualities of a good aftercare plan that you should consider when creating one for yourself.
- The use of evidence-based treatment methods – these methods are backed by sufficient research showing their efficacy in relapse prevention.
- Find a program that fits your needs – aftercare plans are not a one-size-fits-all deal. Not everyone struggling with addiction is the same; they do not share the same motivations, mental and emotional states, or experiences. It is only logical that a successful aftercare plan would be made to fit the needs of the patient and have the ability to be altered during its creation if new issues arise that may not have been obvious in the beginning.
- Easy access – not everyone is in the same position when leaving treatment. Some people may not have cars or drivers licenses, adequate health insurance, or home support to honor the aftercare plan. This is why when choosing components of your aftercare plan, you should find techniques that are easily accessible to you.
- Continuous evaluations – for a successful aftercare program, there should be regular evaluations to monitor your progress. If you hit a snag in your sobriety, an evaluation can help determine what the issue may be and the best way to solve it. Sometimes, it may be hard to admit if we are not meeting our goals.
Sustainable recovery is always the goal for addiction treatment, but the process does not end when you leave a facility. It is something that should be continuous, and for many, a permanent fixture of their life.
At Avalon Malibu, we understand that life post-treatment can cause stress and be a bit daunting. Our specialists are dedicated to providing a tailored aftercare plan for our patients to support their success in recovery. Much like our customized treatment programs, an aftercare plan is highly personalized to meet your specific needs. With the right aftercare plan, you give yourself a better chance at a more successful recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and/or mental health issues, now is the time to reach out for help. At Avalon, we work hard to set you up for success in your recovery journey. Call us today at (844) 857-5992.