Completing a residential stay at a drug treatment facility is a great accomplishment.
The quality of discharge planning and aftercare will greatly increase the chances of living a sober life after leaving the drug treatment center. A huge step is taken when an individual admits there is a problem and goes into treatment, a bigger step is taken when they leave treatment and face life without drugs, and the biggest step is the realization that recovery from addiction is a life-long commitment.
The first year in recovery is very important. Statistics show that 40-60% of people relapse within the first year. This does not have to happen to you. Having an aftercare plan in place that is tailored to your individual needs is vital to prevent relapse. An aftercare program usually lasts six months to a year after completing a residential or intensive outpatient program. Each addiction aftercare program is unique, depending on the facility and the individual. Most provide group meetings, continued counseling, educational classes and discussions, and social activities.
Here are some important aspects of aftercare to look for:
- Random drug testing
- Skills training
- Family sessions or family therapy
- 12-step meetings (such as NA or AA)
- Group meetings
- Classes (such as anger management, yoga, life skills, etc.)
- Social events
- Continued one-on-one counseling
The individual and their therapist or social worker should have a plan in place before the client leaves the drug treatment facility. Most aftercare programs will only take clients who have remained chemically or behaviorally abstinent for a certain length of time before being admitted to their program. Aftercare generally takes place immediately following a residential or outpatient treatment program.
Most aftercare programs will come to an end after six months to a year. At this point, it behooves the recovering person to view recovery as a life-long process. Once the person is on their own, struggling with cravings, stressors, and daily challenges can be daunting. There is help in every neighborhood around every corner, if one looks. Additional support can always be found at SMART meetings, NA meetings, AA meetings, or other 12-step programs. Most people in recovery continue to attend these meetings as a way of meeting sober friends and helping new people who enter the program. Remember, residential treatment is only the beginning of your new life! Make sure to have a plan for your future before stepping out into your newly sober world.