Overcoming addiction is a difficult challenge. However, the more support you have throughout the process, including after you leave rehab, the better your chance of success.
In this article, we’re taking a look at the importance of aftercare and sober living.
The Importance of Aftercare and Sober Living
When you enter rehab, you might think that the inpatient (or intensive outpatient) phase of your recovery is going to be the most difficult. While it is often the most intense, it’s important to realize that recovery does not happen within the weeks you are in the rehab center. You will likely make great strides during your stay, but you will need to continue to work at staying sober for many weeks, months, and years after the first phase of rehabilitation is over.
Learning about the importance of aftercare following rehab treatment for substance abuse can help you understand what challenges you will face. This can also help prevent a relapse. Read on to find out more about aftercare and why it is so crucial to the recovery process.
Aftercare Can Prevent a Relapse
The main goal of aftercare is to help you avoid the thoughts, behaviors, and choices that made it necessary for you to enter rehab in the first place. Many people struggling with an addiction do end up relapsing at some point, so it’s important to keep your expectations realistic. If you do relapse, a good aftercare program will get you back to the straight path that you chose when you decided to enter rehab in the first place.
One important component of aftercare is often support group meetings or group therapy. Having people to be accountable to can help you avoid relapse (or recover from a relapse) even when you are feeling low and not motivated on your own. In the same respect, continuing on with your aftercare group therapy and support group can help others who feel accountable to and supported by you. Someone else might avoid relapse because you were there to make them feel supported.
Aftercare Is Particularly Important for Those With Mental Health Conditions
In many cases, people with addictions also have other mental health conditions. For example, you might have an anxiety disorder, clinical depression, bipolar disorder, or other types of mental health issues. One reason that people with these conditions turn to alcohol or drugs is as a form of self-medication; if you are feeling anxious, depressed, or confused, using substances might have gotten your mind off of your troubles or numbed your pain.
If you are dealing with mental health conditions in addition to your addiction, aftercare can provide the vital role of helping you keep your condition under control. Your therapist can talk to you about your symptoms and make recommendations if it seems that your medications are not working. He or she can also work with you on cognitive behavioral therapy for your condition; this will help you cope in ways that are healthier than turning to substances.
Aftercare Can Help Families
Before you entered rehab, your family was likely negatively impacted by your addiction. While you were able to go to rehab to recover, your family members continued on with their lives without you, hopeful that you would return addiction-free. Now that you are home, they might not be back to normal. They might have a hard time trusting that you have gotten past your addiction. They are probably worried that you will relapse. They might also be dealing with the tangible ramifications of having a loved one away at rehab, whether that’s less money to pay bills, children acting out from frustration, or worry impacting their health.
Participating in an aftercare program can help reassure your family members that you are willing to do what it takes to get better. There are also programs for your family that can help them. They can learn about the symptoms of a relapse, as well as what might trigger one. They can also talk about their feelings and what they’re experiencing with others who have been in the same position. Your family wants to support you, and an aftercare program can help them do that.
Aftercare Programs Vary
There are different types of aftercare programs, so you can choose the one that best meets your needs. You might decide to live in transitional housing, which is sometimes called a sober living facility or a halfway house. These are staffed by people who will continue to help you. You’ll need to live under strict rules as you reorient yourself to making decisions and learning healthy patterns.
If you do not want to live in transitional housing, however, there are still many options. You can continue on with individual counseling and group therapy. You can also join a support group, such as a 12-step program, to build up a circle of support and learn new strategies for dealing with temptations, triggers, and frustrations. Talk to your addiction specialist and counselors for advice on what type of aftercare program might be right for you.
How to Make Aftercare More Successful for You
Your aftercare, like the rest of your recovery, is up to you. The more effort you put into it, the more you are likely to benefit. Spend time by yourself so you can reflect upon what has led you to this point and what you can do to continue on a healthier path. Also, be sure to listen as much as (or more than) you talk during your group therapy and support group sessions. You can learn a lot by paying attention to what others who have gone before are saying. Finally, don’t be afraid to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Remember that the people involved in your aftercare therapy are rooting for you. They will not judge you or look down on you for whatever has happened in the past. Trust them so you can continue to recover.
Going through the intensive phase of recovery from substance addiction can be an overwhelming and difficult process, but having good support makes a big difference. That support must continue through the aftercare phase so you can successfully transition back into a healthy lifestyle, which will become your new normal. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your addiction specialist and to ask for support from your family and friends during this time. Also, don’t try to rush the aftercare stage of treatment; for many, recovery is a long process.