The Importance of Aftercare to Recovery from Addiction

 In Addiction, Recovery, Treatment

Congratulations! You completed substance abuse treatment. Whether it was last week or last year, you did it. You feel ready to return to living your life. Taking control of your life is an essential part of recovery. You have learned to make better choices, and you feel prepared to put your new decision-making skills to the test. However, everyone around you is trying to slow you down. What is going on?

Well, they are showing you they love you and want what is best for you. Recovery is an ongoing lifelong process that continues long after treatment. Your friends and family want to make sure you have safeguards in place that support you and prevent relapse.

Aftercare and Stages of Recovery

Recovery takes place in stages. It takes place throughout six distinct stages of change. Since you have completed treatment, you have completed four of the six stages and are working on your fifth stage of change. These stages will see you first at active addiction and finally at lasting sobriety. Each stage summarizes part of the rehabilitation process.

  1. Pre-Contemplation: At this stage, you recognized the consequences of your substance abuse on yourself and others but were unwilling to change.
  2. Contemplation: You believed the consequences of your substance abuse outweighed the benefits of the substance use but were not ready to consider treatment.
  3. Preparation: You recognized a need to change your behavior and believed the only way to do it was to enter a treatment program, which you did.
  4. Action: You completed the substance abuse treatment program. Great job! You worked hard to get to where you are today. Everyone is proud of you and wants you to succeed.
  5. Maintenance: You must now maintain your sobriety. It is at this stage that most relapses occur. Aftercare plans are implemented at this stage to help you maintain your substance-free lifestyle.
  6. Termination: Once you reach this stage, you are considered recovered. Recovery is a reality in the sense that you are healthy, you have a job, secure housing, healthy relationships, and no longer desire substances you once craved.

Remember, you are still getting to know yourself: the new you, the one who does not abuse substances. Slow down, take the time needed to complete this process.

Common Aftercare Activities

Your aftercare plan includes specific activities that will help you maintain your sobriety. A common refrain is to change people, places, and things. You may want to avoid anyone or anything related to your using days. 

  • Consider Sober Living Arrangements: If you do not have a safe place to live after completing treatment, consider a sober living home. These homes have rules and structures that help you remain sober while getting back on your feet. You can begin to test your decision-making abilities, like seeking a job, while having a safe place to land if things do not work out as planned.
  • Work With a Sponsor: Having a sponsor can be a great help to you. That person serves as a guide or mentor during your ongoing recovery. If you have a moment when you are struggling with your sobriety, you can call your sponsor for encouragement and support. 
  • Participate in 12-Step Meetings: Depending on where you live, there may be lots or only a few meetings to attend. In today’s environment, meetings may be in person or online. The benefit of online 12-step meetings is you can find one at any time you need it. 
  • Join Alumni Support Groups: Your treatment facility may offer alumni support groups that can benefit you, especially if you are more introverted. You may be less likely to attend a 12-step meeting you have never joined before. Attending an alumni group helps you feel more comfortable because you are around people you know.
  • Arrange Family Outings: If you have a good relationship with your family, spending quality time with them is an excellent aftercare activity. Avoid being around family members who constantly bring up your past. or who question your sobriety. Surround yourself with positive people.

These are just a few ideas for your aftercare plan. Your treatment is individualized, so your aftercare also should be personalized. Consider a hobby or something you always wanted to learn and perhaps add that to your aftercare plan.

Creating Your Aftercare Plan

Having ideas about aftercare is one thing. Putting them into action is something else entirely. It is easier to do so when you have an actual plan. You can create your aftercare plan by yourself or with assistance. Your sponsor or even a recovery counselor can guide you through this process. The goal is to end up with a plan you like and can implement.

You completed substance abuse treatment. Now you are ready to get on with your life. However, everyone around you seems to be pulling you to a complete stop every time you take a step forward. That is because you need to put an aftercare plan in place to protect your sobriety. Aftercare is a critical part of the maintenance stage, which is the fourth of the six stages of recovery. Your aftercare plan can include sober living, a sponsor, 12-step meetings, alumni groups, family outings, and much more. Located in scenic Utah, Mountain Peak Recovery provides personalized, holistic substance abuse and mental health treatment solutions. Our goal is to help you discover your light so you can see your true worth and create your best path to lifelong sobriety. If you are alumni of Mountain Peak Recovery or someone currently in recovery seeking help with aftercare, call us at (801) 824-8829 for assistance.

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