Staying Sober After Rehab
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What to Expect in Life After Rehab
When you go to rehabilitation for drug or alcohol addiction, you put in a lot of hard work, but what about life after rehab? What will your life look like then? This is a time that you might not have thought about initially.
You might think once you finish your treatment program, all of the “hard part” is over. That’s not necessarily true. Long-term or aftercare planning is critical to recovery.
What is Aftercare Planning?
Aftercare planning is a broad name for preparing for your life after rehab. During treatment, your treatment team will work with you to create a personalized plan for your life after treatment. When you have an aftercare plan in place, it strengthens your recovery after rehab. An aftercare plan can help you prepare for challenges to your sobriety and allows you to have solutions already in place.
Specifically, aftercare planning has the following goals:
- To help support you in your early recovery after rehab.
- To prevent relapse.
- To provide a framework to work toward other life goals.
What’s Included in an Aftercare Plan?
An aftercare plan can include a combination of interventions, resources, and activities. These are meant to help you cope with the stress, cravings, and triggers you will encounter. With a well-defined aftercare plan, you are more prepared to prevent relapse. A team of treatment providers will work with you to develop your plan for life after rehab.
These providers may include therapists, case managers, and counselors. Addiction professionals and outside therapists may also be part of the planning. As part of a personalized approach, your providers will connect you with resources in your community, as well as online, in order to meet your needs in life after treatment. If you need continued treatment or help with housing and employment, this can be outlined in the plan, too.
For someone who doesn’t have a sober environment to return to or isn’t ready for that, sober living may be included in their plan. Some aftercare plans last for weeks — others for months or even years.
The Risk of Relapse and Life After Rehab
The entire goal of getting addiction treatment is to get clean and then to help you avoid relapse. However, relapse is very common. Relapse happens to many people who are in recovery. It takes time, effort, and practice to learn how to live your life without drugs or alcohol. Addiction is similar to other chronic illnesses such as diabetes, where relapse is possible even after long periods of recovery.
Understanding the risks of relapse can help you after drug treatment. Incorporating family and friends as integral parts of your recovery may also be helpful. Some of the signs of relapse include:
- Not attending therapy or treatment sessions
- Spending time with people who use drugs or alcohol
- Glorifying substance use
- Justifying the use of substances
- Increasing mental health symptoms
What Happens After Rehab?
In life after rehab, some of the following components are often included in a plan.
Counseling is one of the most important cornerstones of rehab and recovery after rehab. Behavioral therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are common ways to address negative thought patterns and behaviors. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy also focuses on helping you build strategies and coping skills to deal with stress. With these coping mechanisms, you may be able to handle triggers more easily that would otherwise lead to relapse.
You might participate in individual or group therapy. You could also do family therapy. There is often a lot of damage done to families due to addiction. Dealing with this damage and working to rebuild trust is a big part of life after rehab. The goal of family therapy is to help not just rebuild trust but also make your family function well again and to improve communication. When your family and loved ones are part of your life after rehab, they can learn the best ways to support you and help you avoid relapse.
Many treatment centers offer alumni programs, which can be part of recovery after rehab. An alumni program is designed for people who have completed treatment and are in recovery. These programs provide support and tools as you transition from rehab to daily life.
In alumni programs, there are a variety of virtual and in-person events where you can receive support and encouragement and also share your challenges and triumphs. Many of the activities an alumni program will host are also just fun and can keep you socially connected.
Not everyone will go to sober living after rehab, but it is a valuable option to consider.
Sober living tends to be an option if you have a severe, long-term addiction and maybe aren’t ready to return home yet. For instance, you may choose sober living if you don’t have a supportive environment to return to after treatment.
A sober living home offers a secure, stable, and substance-free environment. There are rules and structure, so it can be a good stepping stone after drug treatment. You also have to follow a curfew and other rules and complete chores.
The overarching goal of a sober living home is to help you, as a resident, gain access to resources as you transition to living independently. At a sober living house, you continue work on your recovery.
One of the most common things people do in their recovery after rehab is going to recovery meetings. Recovery meetings are free self-help groups.
There are well-known groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. These are 12-step programs. There are also 12-step programs for families of addicts like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon.
SMART Recovery is an alternative to 12-step programs, which doesn’t utilize the concept of a higher power. All 12-step groups focus on sharing experiences, helping others, and taking responsibility for your recovery.
If you do attend a 12-step group, you will probably be encouraged to get a sponsor. A sponsor is a long-term member of the community who works to guide and help someone trying to stay sober. Sponsors can give you individual one-to-one support, especially when facing challenges in your life after rehab.
Your treatment center may offer outpatient services, or they could be part of a community program closer to your home.
Outpatient services can be broad. For instance, some outpatient services include therapy but also help with finding a job and medication management when necessary.
How to Succeed in Life After Rehab
As you plan to leave rehab, what else can you do? You should plan to attend recovery meetings as much as you can. In fact, for newly sober people, it’s recommended you attend a meeting every day for a month. Attend all of your therapy sessions. Work to build a network of sober support. During this time after drug treatment, start to learn how to identify your triggers.
Triggers can be people, places, and things that cause you to have cravings. You should also have a relapse prevention plan. A relapse prevention plan can be a written set of steps you will take if you experience cravings. Find hobbies during the early days of your recovery to help manage your stress and fill your time. Start making self-care a priority as well.
Get Help Today
If you are interested in learning more about addiction treatment, contact Resurgence. We offer specialized treatment and care for drug and alcohol addiction. Along with comprehensive services, our facilities are welcoming and comforting.
Our team is available to answer questions you may have, help you explore your options, and verify your insurance coverage. Moreover, we will work with you to develop a strong aftercare plan. Get started on the road to recovery today.