Finding continued success after treatment doesn’t just happen, it’s the result of careful planning and follow-through. As anyone in recovery knows, treatment doesn’t end when you’re discharged from a residential program.
Graduation day is just the beginning. While completing a program is a milestone that is certainly worthy of celebration, it should also be a transition you’ve been preparing for.
Long before treatment ends, staff should have worked with each individual to create a customized aftercare and relapse prevention plan. This may include a step-down to outpatient treatment or a sober living facility. It may involve a network of local meetings and accountability in the form of a sponsor or alumni group events. Whatever the plan, the person leaving treatment should be an active participant in the decisions being made and fully on board.
A Return to Real Life
After spending time behind the safe walls of a treatment center, heading back to reality can induce quit a bit of anxiety. It’s one thing to stay sober during a residential program, but triggers abound back home. Fortunately, most programs offer family sessions that address issues of enabling and co-dependency, helping to ensure that loved ones are aware of their role in the problem and are given tools to help in the ongoing recovery process. There are also a wide variety of options for additional help and support. A return to real life can be full of possibilities, as long as you plan ahead.
Trying Out Some Training Wheels
You have to learn to walk before you can run, and some individuals may need a little more time to get steady on their feet before they’re return home. In these cases, they may opt for extended care. A step above sober living, these programs provide a transition to more freedom within the structure of an ongoing program. Programming is more limited than in a regular residential program and participants are often permitted to have a car and leave the property for short periods of time. There are curfews and meals are usually eaten together, family style, much like in regular treatment, but the additional freedoms help with the transition.
Sober Living for Structure and Accountability
A step down from extended care, residential sober facilities provide communal living with additional freedoms. Many participants in sober living programs hold down jobs or are away during the bulk of the day, returning at night in time for an enforced curfew. Meetings are held focusing on recovery skills and relapse prevention, but the schedule is much less strenuous than during residential treatment. Some choose to attend sober living near home as a way to ease back into life with family and career while others choose an out-of-state option. Residential or outpatient staff can help you determine the best options for you and suggest reputable programs.
Everyone Needs Someone to Lean On
Anyone who leaves treatment is in need of some sort of aftercare support. Local 12-step meetings, sponsors, accountability through other program alumni and ongoing counseling are all good ways to ensure you stay on the right path. As life creeps back in and time passes, it can be tempting to think you have your recovery under control. But everyone needs a helping hand from time to time. Staying connected will help keep you aware of any bad habits that crop up so you can address them.
Don’t forget where you came from either. By maintaining a link with the people you came to know during treatment, you have a built-in network that can provide continued support long after treatment has ended. Upon completion of a residential or intensive outpatient program, you become a member of an alumni network. What this means varies from program to program, but take advantage of the post-treatment services and resources offered to you. Regular gatherings, annual picnics, ongoing education and even phone calls from an alumni coordinator to check in on your progress are helpful tools to support long-term recovery.
Connection Is Key
Whether you attend daily or weekly meetings or take advantage of online events or monthly gatherings, the goal is to keep you connected. If you’ve completed treatment and aren’t yet part of an alumni group, it’s not too late. No one walks this road alone. Connecting with others who understand the unique issues related to addiction and recovery can make all the difference when it comes to long-term success in beating substance abuse.
Online communities like Heroes in Recovery (heroesinrecovery.com) has an engaged, sober network aimed at education, support and empowerment. Through events across the country, they seek to inspire a sense of community wherever they can. Hundreds of inspirational stories can be found on their website and they host uplifting regional events that celebrate recovery and the brave individuals who walk that road every day.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a new addiction or is in danger of relapse, call us today. We’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can provide information on treatment programs, mediation, help with insurance and answer questions about the treatment process.
Articles posted here are primarily educational and may not directly reflect the offerings at The Oaks. For more specific information on programs at The Oaks, contact us today.