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The Importance of Effective Aftercare Planning

Effective aftercare planning is crucial for success in alcohol and drug addiction recovery. Inpatient detox or residential rehab alone is not enough to beat your addiction. Alcohol and substance use disorders are relapsing medical conditions that require ongoing treatment to recover and heal successfully. 

You and your treatment team should begin aftercare planning while you are in the first stages of recovery during inpatient medical detox or residential rehab.

What Is Aftercare Planning?

Aftercare planning helps you transition from active treatment to your everyday life while in recovery. There is no “cure” for addiction. You need ongoing treatment to maintain sobriety, manage triggers, and prevent relapse.

As you go through treatment at a rehab facility, you should start thinking about your life beyond the treatment center. An inpatient residential treatment center shields you from the challenges you might face in your everyday life. While in a facility, you will be protected from most triggers for drinking or using drugs. You also won’t have access to substances like you will when you leave.

Aftercare planning is a way of continuing your treatment from more intensive to less intensive in a way that works for you. You might want to continue meeting with a therapist, going to support groups, entering a sober living program, or stepping down to an outpatient program.

Why Do I Need an Aftercare Plan?

Addiction is considered a chronic, relapsing brain disorder. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Like other chronic diseases such as heart disease or asthma, treatment for drug addiction usually isn’t a cure. But addiction can be managed successfully.”

Any chronic disease comes with the risk of relapse if you don’t follow through with changing lifestyle habits. For example, if you have asthma, you can treat your condition with exercise, allergy medications, deep breathing, and emergency inhalant medications. These tools are part of ongoing treatment for asthma, but none of them will cure the disease.

Similarly, treating drug or alcohol addiction requires ongoing treatment to keep your symptoms from resurfacing, which is also called a relapse. One of the main goals of addiction treatment is to continue sobriety and prevent relapse. Aftercare planning helps you maintain sobriety and succeed in ongoing addiction recovery.

The Benefits of Aftercare Planning

Aftercare planning has numerous benefits for your success in recovering from alcohol and drug addiction, including:

  • Maintaining successful coping skills, like peer support and trigger management
  • Learn to deal with new triggers that might surface as you go through life, like the loss of a loved one, divorce, changing jobs, moving, and other stressors
  • Staying connected to like-minded people by attending support groups regularly
  • Preventing relapse and holding yourself accountable to your recovery goals
  • Keeping connections to the recovery community in case you do relapse and need to get back into treatment

Much like your treatment planning, your aftercare plan might look different to you than others. You might have unique needs to continue along your recovery path. Creating an aftercare plan to suit your needs is crucial to your addiction recovery.

How to Create an Effective Plan

Your aftercare plan needs match your needs to be effective. It is best to consider your physical, mental, and social health needs when creating an aftercare plan. You also want to think about some of the triggers and underlying issues driving your addiction.

Many treatment facilities can support you after detox to continue in your recovery. While you are in detox, you should start considering your next steps forward. You can transition with your detox provider to other programs they might have. They can also make recommendations and referrals for you.

Effective aftercare plans can include the following:

  • Inpatient drug or alcohol rehab
  • Outpatient services, which can vary in level of intensity based on your needs
  • Sober living homes if you still struggle to manage triggers in your home environment
  • Including your family, friends, and other loved ones in your aftercare planning to help you stay accountable to your sobriety
  • Continuing individual or group therapy, especially for an underlying mental illness
  • Holistic health considerations, like healthy eating habits and exercise plans
  • Goal plans for planning your life outside of recovery, like going to school or finding a meaningful career path
  • Crisis planning for what your loved ones and support network can do to help you in the event of a relapse
  • Medication-assisted treatment to prevent relapse from opioid or alcohol addiction
  • Peer support groups, like SMART Recovery or Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous (AA and NA) can be a great way to continue your recovery

Sometimes, you can plateau in treatment and should consider multiple options to keep things fresh. You might feel like you are just “going through the motions” after a while, which could lead to relapse. Consider multiple dimensions of your health and wellbeing, like vocational goals, physical health, and building healthy relationships, which you can continue to improve upon during your life in recovery.

Aftercare Planning in Nashville

Sobriety and detox is only the first step toward success on your path to recovery. Brentwood Springs Detox of Nashville, TN, has aftercare services to help you through every step in your addiction treatment and recovery. Call us or visit our admissions page today to learn more.

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