The Importance of Post-Treatment Planning
Post-treatment planning, also called aftercare planning, is a critical aspect of a drug and alcohol rehab that sets patients up for long-term sobriety. In rehab, patients will receive treatment to address their substance use disorders and any co-occurring disorders and are encouraged to continue focusing on their recovery thereafter. Post-treatment planning helps patients live a fulfilling life after rehab and maintain their sobriety. Through this, they learn new ways to discourage relapse and can cope with the world with the help of caring staff.
Patients transitioning from primary care to aftercare may experience anxiety, nervousness, and stress. These are normal emotions and feelings to experience as they begin to transition back into their daily routine. Having support from a post-treatment planning program provides a safe place to open-up about experiences, gain support and coping skills, and share with peers who can relate. Those in recovery must be patient with themselves. Commitment to transformation and recovery requires endurance, healthy habits, and a positive mindset.
Post-treatment planning involves many elements, including:
- Addiction counseling and education
- Support group attendance
- Learning and practicing coping skills
- Implementing new healthy routines
- Learning relapse prevention skills
- Engaging in ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living)
- Managing daily life stressors
- Residing in sober living residences
Post-treatment planning is an important step in the treatment process for addiction. The primary goal of post-treatment planning is to prevent relapse among early recovering addicts and alcoholics. The purpose is to help patients gradually ease back into their daily lives without falling back into self-destructive behaviors or habits. Post-treatment planning also provides clients with the ability to do extra work on themselves that may be left unfinished from their primary treatment.
Relapse Prevention in Post-Treatment Planning
It is not uncommon for relapses to occur within 3-6 months of treatment. The first 30 days are most vulnerable. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the relapse rate for substance use disorders is estimated to be between 40% and 60%. This is similar to the rate of relapse for other chronic diseases, such as hypertension.
Relapse prevention, as it sounds, can help individuals maintain their sobriety. The purpose of post-treatment planning, and aftercare programs (such as individual therapy and intensive outpatient therapy) is to help clients gradually ease back into their daily lives without falling back into self-destructive behaviors or habits. Aftercare programs also provides clients with the ability to do extra work on themselves that may be left unfinished from their primary treatment.
Aftercare programs are held in outpatient settings where patients can take part in programs that continue the growth of their recovery and spiritual support. Aftercare programs assist patients with maintaining their sobriety and overall health and wellness, as well as allow patients to address any issues that may have be left unfinished from their primary treatment.
When a patient is in rehab, they work with their clinician to develop an individualized discharge and post-treatment plan. The post-treatment plan assists the client as they transition from inpatient or outpatient rehab and begin their journey of recovery in their daily lives. Aftercare programs are most commonly held in outpatient treatment settings in the form of intensive outpatient programs (IOP), partial-hospitalization programs (PHP), and outpatient therapy (OP), as well as individual therapy sessions. It also includes participating in support groups regularly, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). When the patient enters their aftercare program, they will meet with their new primary therapist to develop an individualized treatment plan.
Using Therapy as a part of Post-Treatment Planning
Therapies-can vary based on any underlying need of the patients or what services are provided at the facility. For example, if the patient has anxiety, therapists may include more meditation and biofeedback to calm the mind. Holistic-based therapies are gentle in accompanying detox, providing practical healing approaches for mental, emotional, nutritional, creative, and spiritual recovery.
Intensive Outpatient (IOP), is an option for patients seeking treatment but need to tend to home or career responsibilities. IOP can also be a less-intensive level of care that is used as an aftercare program for individuals stepping-down from inpatient treatment. IOP typically is held between 3 and 7 days per week for a minimum of 3 hours per day. Patients also meet with their primary therapist once per week for an individual therapy session . It assists clients with reintegrating into their community without the use of alcohol or other drugs. IOP provides support, accountability, and structure to minimize the risk of relapse for those in early recovery.
12-Step programs are offered in rehab and IOP treatments. 12-Step peer groups empower the individual to acknowledge a higher power in recovery and take personal inventory surrounding the impact of substance use disorders. Patients can also utilize wisdom from other groups, like Self-Management and Recovery Training, or SMART. SMART encourages individuals to control their behaviors and cravings with 4-Point programs.
Individuals can find hobbies to reinforce their existance to the present moment. Hobbies can be creative (writing, cooking), physical (exercise), spiritual (meditation), and social.
Alumni Programs in Post-Treatment Planning
Alumni programs are highly suggested to help reduce the risk of relapse and offer connection. Individuals can request to join alumni groups after treatment through the facility’s staff. Alumni programs often offer exciting social events and activities highlighting the impact of positive contribution such as:
- Group based outings and activities
- Volunteer activities
- Social media groups for support
- Weekly meetings to maintain connection
Alumni groups consist of individuals who have graduated from treatment for chemical dependences, preserving connection and community. Maintaining positive relationships creates a positive distraction from a former life of addiction, provides support and accountability, and reduces the risk of isolation. It also reminds us of the power of uplifting friends and present-moment living.
Reinforcing Values and Accountability During Post-Treatment Planning
Aside the assistance from facilities and programs, individuals can inspire themselves to be responsible for their wellbeing after treatment. They can commit to reinventing their habits and mind frame when recovering. Patients can focus on living a life of freedom from addiction. Patients can live a life with passion, an authentic life with hobbies and friends who encourage them to stay connected to their core values.
Here, individuals uncover a part of themselves which reveal who they really are after recovery. Patients are not just victims of addiction with painful memories, nor victims of circumstances. Our purpose supports our passion. With purposeful living, we can create daily intentions to be joyful and healthy in our healed states. Making a list of core values helps the individual build with an intention to find self-awareness. Journaling to track cravings and emotions reinforces accountability and knowledge on one’s recovery journey.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
You’ve come to a point where you realize you have to make a change. Whether you’re hiding your habit, spending large amounts of money, or have been encouraged to stop using by friends and family, you owe it to yourself to take the next step towards a life of recovery.