With the New Year officially in full swing, many of those in recovery are using it as an opportunity for a fresh start and a clean slate. Anyone who has ever made a New Year’s resolution knows that the promises we make to ourselves are only as strong as the resources we have in place to keep them. For those of us who have just completed addiction treatment or are feeling particularly vulnerable to relapse, this means relying on our recovery aftercare plans to successfully maintain our sobriety and continue to rebuild our lives. Very often, these plans are the only things standing between our continued progress and relapse.
A recovery aftercare plan is developed while patients are in treatment with the help of their care professionals. It incorporates each patient’s individualized ongoing care needs. it builds upon the progress patients made in treatment while working to address and manage the root causes of their addictions and the triggers that can lead to and sustain substance abuse. Everyone’s journey to addiction is different, whether it’s the result of family dysfunction, dual-diagnosis disorder (co-occurring mental disorder), acute trauma or anything else. It’s important that their aftercare plans include behavioral strategies to help them manage the emotional pitfalls that can lead to relapse.
Another critical element of a successful aftercare plan is referral information for addiction-trained therapists and recovery meetings in each patient’s local area. These resources must be firmly in place for patients as they complete treatment so they can seamlessly transition to ongoing care outside of the rehab paradigm. As we continue to move forward and rebuild our lives after addiction treatment, we must lean on our aftercare plans, and adjust them accordingly, for ongoing success. If we’re going to make a promise to ourselves and the people around us, it’s imperative that we have the means to keep them.