Aftercare: Where Much of the Real Work Takes Place for Recovery

/Aftercare: Where Much of the Real Work Takes Place for Recovery

You got the help you needed for your addiction. You went through the detox treatment, and then the rehab. It wasn’t easy but you pulled through. Thanks to all you learned about addiction, you are feeling pretty hopeful. Being sober feels good and you’re pretty sure you can keep it up.

What happens once you’re done the initial treatment period?

This is where you’ll be confronted with the real challenges. This is where you go home and try to manage your new sober life. You have more responsibilities once again and less support. Don’t despair though, this is a part of the recovery process. If you truly want to get past addiction, you’ll have to cope with your reality. The life that potentially caused your addiction in the first place.

Recovery from drug abuse and addiction is something you’ll deal with for the rest of your life. As time goes on, it will get easier though. The inpatient detox and rehab you attended is designed to give you constant support. You can abstain from substance use on your own too. They gave you the tools to help you on your road to recovery.

You will also be given aftercare strategies to help you stay sober. The addiction treatment center knows the most successful path for you. They’ll give you a few options available when it comes to aftercare treatment. These options can help prevent relapse from occurring and give you greater insight into how to cope.

Steps of Aftercare for a Successful Recovery

The reality is, if you don’t nurture your recovery for the long-term, you’re susceptible to relapse. Here are some of the aftercare procedures to help you recover.

  • The relapse prevention strategy will be given to you and rehearsed before you leave inpatient treatment. This can vary from person to person.
  • Potentially attending an organized outpatient treatment.
  • Holistic treatment like self-help groups. This involves attending twelve-step groups regularly.
  • Schedule outpatient follow-up meetings with counselors and addiction specialists.
  • Recommended or required drug testing (if you got into legal trouble due to abusing substances).
  • Aftercare will monitor your progress. This can be anything from scheduling appointments with addiction specialists to tracking apps.

Why Relapse Happens in the First Place

When you leave the treatment facility, you feel motivated and confident. You feel like you’ve made it through the hardest part of your recovery. You’re not experiencing the physical withdrawals and you have seen that life without addiction is possible.

You will be told that more work needs to be done but it’s not until you’re home that it sinks in. This is the rest of your life. Aftercare helps you to maintain a clear path to recovery.

Staying off substances is more difficult once you’re out of the safety of a residential treatment facility. The support and attention you received during inpatient treatment protected you from taking action when you were tempted. Your days were structured on the focus of getting over your addiction. Returning home can be a shock to the system. The temptation is higher and the support is much less. People that haven’t gone through addiction may try to support you but they don’t understand. One of the biggest challenges is that your old life can bring on old behaviors.

Motivation can decrease when you don’t keep focused on staying sober. It’s a work in progress every day and there is effort to abstain from substances. If you attempt to “go with the flow,” you can easily be caught off guard. When this happens, the reasons that drove you into recovery could be forgotten all too easily.

While you were in rehabilitation, the rock bottom feelings may have been forgotten. If you don’t keep pushing forward, you may find that life in recovery is unsatisfying. When emotional pain arises, you feel bored, or uncomfortable, you may find more reward in using substances again than staying sober.

The Pain You’ve Repressed Can Come Back

Many people will come home and realize they’ve lost a lot. When you stepped into rehab, this was likely at a time you hit rock bottom. The chaos in your life prevented you from seeing what was really going on. All the times you were high or drunk didn’t allow you to see that you were losing important parts of your life. You probably knew it was happening but you masked your pain with the substances you became addicted to. Once you’re at home and the dust has settled, this is where emotions can cause discomfort.

If you’re a functioning addict, you may have lost nothing. Still, there may be some emotions you’ve been hiding. A high percentage of people who abuse substances walked into addiction because they were attempting to numb their pain. If you’re one of them, the feelings you’ve pushed down will resurface once you’re sober.

The longer you’re sober, the more these feelings will come up. They don’t feel like a good thing. They might even feel scary. The guilt, shame, fear, anger, or sadness you feel means you’re healing. It hurts but it’s necessary. You will need to find out how to get help with these emotions though. Holistic healing such as mindfulness and yoga are proving to be very effective while dealing with the emotions of recovery. You learn how to face your emotions one at a time and handle them in a healthy way.

At-Home Outpatient Treatment Once You’re out of Rehab

Although you’ve done a lot of work to help with recovery, there’s still more to be done. It’s a nice thought that once you’ve gone through professional rehab, you’re cured from addiction. What most addicts have found is they’re faced with new challenges once they go home.

Life in an inpatient clinic allows you to step away from your reality. You don’t have to worry about the triggers that caused you to abuse substances. You can focus on your recovery. Things change when you go home. You have responsibilities you have to tend to. You will be confronted with temptation and the support might not be there.

You’ll want to ask for support from your friends and family. Keep lines of communication open with those around you. If you think you need the extra support, you may want to consider outpatient treatment. This means you live at home while attending treatment throughout the week. This is good if you have to get back to work and have life obligations you need to meet.  

Finding Support With People that Understand Your Struggles

One of the ways you’ll stay strong through the recovery process is through a strong support system. You will have times of weakness. You will feel afraid. The last thing you need on top of that is to feel is alone and isolated. You can listen and share your experience associated with addiction in support groups. Together, you can work on building the necessary skills to recover fully.

There are some things you might not want to talk about in a group setting. You may have your own personal struggles that caused your addiction. Getting one-on-one time with individual therapy can help you deal with emotions that were the root cause of addiction.

Learning about Long-Term Recovery in 12-Step Groups

Researchers have found that people who don’t work at their recovery will more often than not, relapse. Taking stock of your recovery journey makes it easier to stay on track. Recovering alone will limit your success. If you’re in recovery, you need other people.

People that understand your struggles. There are plenty of guidebooks and facts but in the end, it’s the power of people that will get you through the hardest times. You can’t keep yourself isolated or the self-destructive patterns will never change. You’ve always needed to be close to people, that’s what being human is about.

In 12-step programs or fellowship groups, the people you meet will help you stay sober for the years to come. Addiction is known as an equal-opportunity disease. It can affect people from all backgrounds. The main reason that they come together in an AA meeting is to strengthen the ability to stay sober. This is the common thread.

When you join a 12-step group, you are coming together with people who are committed to recovery. You don’t have to fight your battle alone. There’s always a member willing to listen. There’s always a sponsor willing to keep in touch with you. When you have a group of people like this in your life, you’re less likely to relapse. You become accountable for your behaviors which can also help prevent relapse.

Working through the roadmap of the twelve steps helps you find your way back to yourself. This can mean anything from coming back to yourself to getting to know yourself for the first time. You begin to understand all your many layers through self-examination. When you look within, you can find and heal what caused you to abuse substances in the first place. That’s what makes self-examination so essential.

Aftercare Assistance Can Help You Stay Sober

Having aftercare assistance has helped many people get through the transition period of being sober. Specialists will monitor your progress and help you through the darker parts of addiction and recovery. They will help you make sense of what you’re experiencing so there’s no second guessing.

Having specialists help you avoid temptation while offering you support has proven to be effective. Many aftercare programs will ensure you always have someone to talk to. They can bring your family and friends together as well. They educate the people in your life so they can help you more effectively.

Your journey to recovery won’t be easy. There may be some rough patches that make it difficult to abstain. Developing strong bonds with others and chipping away at what causes triggers in you will be a daily task. The hard work is worth it though. You are in the middle of transforming your life in a positive way. There are people who can help you along your journey. You just need to know what you need at any given moment. Never stop reaching out and asking for help when you need it and never give up.


NCBI, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health [Internet]. CHAPTER 5 RECOVERY: THE MANY PATHS TO WELLNESS. Retrieved from,

NCBI, American Public Health Association (April 2011) Surviving Drug Addiction: The Effect of Treatment and Abstinence on Mortality. Retrieved from,

NCBI, PMC. J Psychoactive Drugs (April 2007) Pathways to Long-Term Recovery: A Preliminary Investigation. Retrieved from,

NCBI, J Psychoactive Drugs (March 2011) What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go from Here? Retrieved from,

NCBI, Substance Abuse Research and Treatment (2013) A Simplified Method for Routine Outcome Monitoring after Drug Abuse Treatment. Retrieved from,



By | 2017-08-01T18:12:41+00:00 August 11th, 2017|

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