Once detox and rehabilitation from a drug or alcohol addiction has been completed, the recovery work has only just begun. The recovery trajectory will continue for the rest of an addict’s life, which is why preparing for the continuing care element of treatment that begins after rehab is so important. Ignoring this phase of treatment leaves the newly sober individual vulnerable to the challenges they are sure to face in daily life. With a solid aftercare plan in place, the chances for success are significantly improved.
Life in an inpatient rehab program is highly structured, predictable, and monitored. This is not the case in the outside world where stressors and triggers can quickly undo all the hard work done in rehab by instigating a relapse. No one is solid upon discharge; everyone leaving a completed rehab program is vulnerable to relapse. Recovery is a process that must be actively practiced, not a destination.
For this reason it is important to make a continuing care plan to commence after the completion of rehab. These aftercare options offer the sources for continued support on the recovery journey.
Planning Your Aftercare Strategy
Here are some helpful continuing care strategies:
Having a home environment that is supportive of one’s sobriety is crucial in early recovery. Many times, the family home is not the best place to reside during this critical juncture fresh out of rehab, as family members may continue to use alcohol or drugs. The family home may be emotionally unsupportive as well, due to unhealthy interpersonal relationships and dysfunction.
A sober living environment provides a safe, supportive, drug and alcohol-free living space for the newly recovering individual to reinforce their life in sobriety. Sober living requires intermittent drug and alcohol testing, setting up a strong deterrent against relapse. Fellow housemates become a source of social support and help guard against loneliness in the key early months. Sober living housing allows sufficient time for confidence to build and new recovery tools to be practiced, leading to a healthy transition back to the family home.
Ongoing outpatient counseling is an essential aftercare treatment element. The therapy sessions offer the individual a source of counsel and support to access during the often difficult early months of recovery. Instead of attempting to go it alone, those who access outpatient group therapy or individual therapy approach sobriety feeling they have someone in their corner to help guide them through any challenges that crop up.
Whether one is a proponent of the A.A. 12-step program or the non 12-step programs such as SMART Recovery, involvement in some type of recovery community is a very important step after completing rehab. These communities provide the important peer support piece of recovery, where people can openly share their struggles and triumphs with others who are also committed to sobriety.
Embracing a Sober Lifestyle
The worst thing someone in early recovery can do is hole up and isolate oneself from experiencing life, as loneliness and isolation are triggers for relapse. Instead, after rehab is completed, embracing new sober activities is an excellent way to improve mood and to make new sober friends. There are Meet-up groups that are dedicated to outdoor sober activities, sober travel groups, and A.A. offers many sober outings for its members as well.
Restoring Physical Health
The toll of addiction on the body can be significant. Once rehab is completed, a commitment to restoring one’s health and wellbeing will enhance recovery and improve self-esteem. Through a nutritious diet of lean proteins, fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and nuts, and avoiding junk foods, sugary treats, and limiting caffeine, the brain and body will heal. Daily physical activity, whether taking a walk, a run, a hike, a bike ride, a swim, or a gym workout, will boost endorphins and improve mood, as well as improve overall fitness.