Addiction can’t be solved overnight; no mental health problem is that easy. Just because you’ve completed treatment doesn’t mean you’ve recovered. The physical cravings were only a part of the problem. The drive to use drugs runs much deeper, and it takes a while to build a new lifestyle that doesn’t encourage follow through on those urges. With this in mind, it’s crucial not only to complete a residential treatment program of some kind, but to have an aftercare plan, too: usually therapy sessions, group meetings, volunteer work—anything sober-minded and productive. Most aftercare activities, you can find in rehab as well. It’s a lot like a treatment-extension. If rehab is high school, aftercare is like college. Your responsibilities are mostly the same, but now, it’s up to you to perform them. Family, friends, and sponsors can and should push you to stay active and motivated, but it’s ultimately up to you now. Seek an expert opinion. Firstly, discuss the topic of aftercare with your residential treatment center. By the time your treatment is nearly complete, the staff should have a solid portrait of you and your particular needs. Whether you require psychotherapy, group therapy, family therapy, a stay in a halfway house, social services, and/or help finding employment, the support service team at your clinic will gladly draft up an individualized plan for you. Document it. Once you have an idea of what type of aftercare you need, you should do your best to secure it with a concrete plan. Research different programs of their choosing and take note of their locations and meeting times. Make appointments with counselors to ensure that you have a place to stay after treatment as well as an employment plan. Document everything you can to reduce post-rehab anxiety: WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and perhaps even the WHY’s. Define how you’ll prevent relapse. Relapse-prevention tactics are perhaps the most important part of the planning. A relapse-prevention gives you ways to handle temptation to drink or use, outlines your specific triggering situations, and serves as a guide to help keep you in recovery. Inform those around you. The next step in creating and addiction aftercare plan is sharing it with any potential support: family, friends, professors, pastors—anyone who is both caring and understanding. If they know, they can better help you and encourage you to stay on the right track. Stick to it. The final step is simply to execute the others: stay on track. It sounds simple, but it boils down to lots and lots of exercises—seeing a psychotherapist, keeping a food journal, sticking to certain friends—which can feel like a big burden. Remember, it only gets easier. For so long, you’ve only experienced bad habits. Now give yourself a chance to put your new good habits to use. It’s what you’ve been working toward and it is possible.
Relapse can be part of the recovery story but it does not have to be. Recovery and abstinence from drugs and alcohol can be the story of the rest of your life. At Oceanfront Recovery, a men’s residential addiction treatment program, we believe that when you change your story, you can change your life. For information on our programs in Orange County, California, call us today: 877.279.1777