The Necessity of Aftercare

Posted on July 25th, 2012

Seeking treatment for your addiction is one of the best things you can do. You will receive excellent advice and support as you work to overcome your addiction and move on to a healthier future. When you leave your initial treatment, whether residential or outpatient, you will need an aftercare plan. They are imperative to your long term success and will make a huge difference in your future.

Understanding an After Care Plan

An after care plan is exactly what it sounds like, a plan to help you continue your sobriety once you have left the safety net of your treatment program and return to your life. It should be something you have created with your counselor, therapist, or other qualified individual. But, it should definitely be something that is unique to you and that addresses your specific needs. The plan will include suggestions for lifestyle changes as well as preventive maintenance you can follow when returning to your community. It will also be a series of steps you can accomplish on a daily basis that will increase your chances of staying sober. You have to remember that your battle for sobriety is just beginning and a proper plan will help you remain successful.

Why an After Care Plan

As tempting as it may be to simply head back to your life and stay sober, this is often easier said than done. Your primary task once you return to your life is to stay sober and everything else you do hinges on that. The reality is, you are the only person that is responsible for your recovery; no one else can stay sober for you. Because your specific after care plan is written as a series of steps, it will help you to establish a healthy routine. Becoming clean and overcoming your addiction is monumental and it requires new behaviors. A planned routine will help you each day as you work to stay sober. It is also possible that you will be returning to a situation with a family system that has suffered a lot of damage while you battled your addiction. They will need support and assurance that you are committed to your recovery. An after care plan you can easily and regularly follow may offer them just that.

Items to Include in an After Care Plan

After care plans may be individualized, but to a certain extent they should all include key concepts. These include activities such as exercise, attending twelve-step or similar group meetings, regular therapy or counseling sessions. You may also want to schedule specific times to contact your sponsor as well as a daily time for quiet meditation and reflection. The goal of your after care plan is to keep you as healthy as possible, so your specific action items need to reflect overall health instead of simply focusing on your addiction.

Examples of items that can be included in after care plans include:

  • Therapy schedule
  • Step meeting locations and times
  • Counseling schedule
  • Amount of exercise per day
  • Goal for healthy eating
  • School or work schedule, and learning how to fit either or both into your new life
  • Medication schedule
  • Community or church activities

Over time, your plan should be adjusted to reflect your new stage in life. Once you have completed a year of sobriety, you may feel comfortable altering your plan to more of a weekly plan, rather than a daily one. As a recovering addict, the reality you face is that you did not become an addict overnight and you will not achieve long term sobriety that way either. Persistent, continual commitment to your sobriety will only be accomplished through dedication and commitment. Following a well-thought out after care plan will help you do just that.

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