Nearly 25 million people require addiction treatment each year. While that number is staggering, few actually receive the help they need. And, of those who do receive treatment, nearly 85% of those individuals relapse within their first year.
Painful statistics? Absolutely.
While recovery is undoubtedly difficult and complex, there are several factors that can increase your chances of success. Treatment is an important part of the equation- it’s where you obtain the tools and resources needed to be sober. Aftercare is where you do or don’t put it at all together.
This transition can be challenging, especially if it entails relocating, finding new work, or simply learning how to be independent.
In a nutshell, aftercare is what happens once you’re back in the big, intense real world. For most, it’s the ultimate test of recovery.
Each individual will have different needs and priorities, but let’s look at some of the tried-and-true options for successful transitioning out of treatment.
Sober Living Environment
Residential treatment offers unmatchable accountability with its random drug screenings, clinical groups, and consistent support and structure.
So, what happens once that’s over?
Many clients return back to old environments with old friends and/or familiar places. When this happens, the relapse risk remains high.
On the other hand, sober living environments maintain a sense of support, structure, and monitoring. Drug testing is enforced and sobriety is non-negotiable if you want to have a bed and roof over your head.
Additionally, a sober living home maintains a sense of community and fellowship, as individuals move through the same process together. Many people find that this is the ideal balance of being “in the real world” while feeling safe and structured at home.
Intensive Outpatient Treatment
Many individuals have the opportunity to transition into an Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP) or Outpatient Program (OP) after a residential episode.
This is a recommended course of action because it allows people to transition out of extensive treatment into supported real-world integration. These groups tend to supplement well with employment and outside support group meetings.
Many IOP programs incorporate groups and counseling focused on daily living skills, self-care, employment and financial assistance, relationships, and relapse prevention. Accountability and expression of feelings and experiences are strongly encouraged.
This is another layer of positive action you can take to increase learning about yourself and staying connected with a sober community.
Many treatment centers introduce and encourage 12-Step groups within their programs. These meetings are supportive and widely-accessible, and many people find a sense of strength and hope within the meeting rooms.
Attending regular meetings, meeting with a sponsor, and actively working the 12 Steps can maintain a sense of accountability within oneself and foster a sense of greater community and connection. It creates a sober fellowship- people you can turn to when you need feedback and help with your recovery process.
The power of sitting in a room with several others- facing problems just like yours- can be incredibly validating.
Early stages of recovery may raise painful material to the surface, and it can feel difficult to cope with these new emotions. Therapy provides another angle of interpersonal support after treatment. It can focus on a variety of transitional issues including:
- Healthy coping skills
- Addressing and coping with trauma
- Boundaries and interpersonal dynamics
- Family issues
- Dating and intimacy
- Identity changes and concerns
- Concurrent disorders (depression, anxiety, eating disorders)
- Occupational or academic stress
Having a non-judgmental space and trusted professional helping you with this new transition can be a valuable asset to your aftercare.
Medication Monitoring and Management
Individuals who take psychiatric medication, such as antidepressants or mood stabilizers, need routine monitoring and assessment. This is part of overall self-care and mind-body wellness, all of which are crucial for sustained recovery.
Any changes in medication, especially in early stages of sobriety, should be medically cleared and discussed with your doctor.
Furthermore, medication needs can and do change during recovery. Continuous assessments and evaluations are important.
Those who complete treatment understand the importance of quality relationships and bonding with new peers. They know that socializing and having fun with sober people matter!
The support doesn’t stop once treatment does, and maintaining healthy relationships may even be more crucial than ever. Reach out to friends. Expand your relationships. Stay open and engaged to meeting new people. Help others and let others help you.
Support may be the difference between positively coping with a difficult time or relapsing because of it.