01 Aug Is There Life After Residential Treatment?
There is often so much focus on the first 30 days of treatment for addiction that not much thought is put into what happens afterward. You go from active addiction to residential treatment that is completely restrictive, but then what? Are you just expected to return to life as usual? Is there aftercare available to help you transition, to build a proper framework for your recovery? Is there life after residential treatment?
Healing From Addiction Takes Time
Recovering from any long-term medical condition takes time–time to put new routines into place and time for the body to heal. This is absolutely true of a substance use disorder (SUD). Physically, the body needs time to heal from the effects of substance abuse as well as to adjust to the chemical changes that take place. It also takes time to put healthy routines into place and to adjust to the changes in diet and exercise.
This is why it is important not to rush through treatment or try only to do the bare minimum to stop drinking or using drugs. You want to heal properly, get it right the first time, and avoid relapsing. Investing the time and effort now to heal properly will save you time in the end.
What Is Aftercare All About?
In the recovery process, the term “aftercare” refers to the continuing care you receive after residential treatment. Before you are discharged from your initial treatment program, an aftercare plan will be discussed with you. This could also be called a “plan for success,” as successful recovery requires ongoing effort well beyond the first 30 days of treatment.
Your aftercare plan could include many different facets, including:
- 12-Step or other support meetings
- Getting a sponsor
- An outpatient program
- A sober living environment
- Continued individual and/or group counseling or therapy
- A support network of friends, family, and others
As with anything else in life, what you get out of aftercare depends on what you put into it. The more facets you are willing to add to your aftercare plan, the stronger your recovery will be. Everything you do to strengthen your recovery lowers your chances of relapse and helps you heal mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Benefits of Outpatient Programs
During residential treatment, you live at the facility and have around-the-clock supervision and care. Once you have completed this program, you may choose to enroll in an outpatient program, one where you are not required to live at the facility and spend fewer hours in treatment. These programs are very beneficial in continuing the recovery learning process, getting continued therapeutic support, and reinforcing relapse prevention techniques.
Outpatient programs vary depending on the facility, but the most common programs are:
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP): These programs require regular, if not daily, visits, such as six hours per day, five days per week, or about 30 hours per week
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP): An IOP program requires fewer visits and fewer hours, such as three hours per day three times per week, up to 20 hours per week, but the program may go on longer than a PHP
- Outpatient program (OP): These programs require minimal time commitments, about three hours, once per week, allowing participants to live independently
Why a Sober Living Environment Helps
When transitioning from residential treatment into sobriety, a sober living environment can help provide the support and accountability that you need in early recovery. Sober living homes provide structure to help you bridge the gap between treatment and independent living. They provide support and resources to help you as you learn the best strategies and coping mechanisms for your recovery.
There is also great value in sharing your recovery experience with others who are working along similar pathways. Commonalities help build friendships and bonds while supporting one another and learning and growing together. Developing friendships with others who are also sober will help you avoid those from your past who are not sober, and you will learn the value of surrounding yourself with like-minded people.
Creating a Framework of Support for Your Recovery
Healing from addiction does not happen overnight, or even within 30 days of treatment. Recovery takes diligence and daily effort. Life after residential treatment does exist, and the best way to ensure your success in recovery is to build a framework of support for it through an aftercare plan.
Do not let aftercare be an afterthought. With careful planning, you can build upon the foundation of your treatment and create a structure for your recovery that is solid enough to withstand the cravings and triggers of a would-be relapse. Your commitment to your healing shows when you build your framework for your recovery with a well-conceived and implemented aftercare plan.