Content reviewed by Khelsea Walker, CEO of New Hope Ranch
If you have recently completed an addiction treatment program, congratulations! You have staked a huge milestone in your recovery journey. Now that you have completed treatment, you get to apply all of the lessons and skills you have learned throughout your program. Remember, the next few months and years are crucial for establishing your recovery. Staying sober after returning to daily life after addiction treatment can seem intimidating. Luckily, with a few tips, you can learn how to prioritize your sobriety with confidence.
Addiction recovery is a lifelong journey.
Contrary to what you may believe, recovery is not “complete” or “over” once you finish a treatment program. Recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) is a lifelong journey. This is because addiction is both chronic and compulsive, characterized by long-lasting changes to your brain. Reversing these changes and learning how to avoid relapse is a process that you must continually work at.
Your treatment program has helped you to achieve sobriety and address the underlying causes of your addiction. Additionally, you have worked to overcome your substance use triggers and cravings and learned valuable coping mechanisms for stress management. As you build on these wins, how can you know when you are ready to apply all that you have learned to your life outside of the treatment setting?
Everyone will be at a different place in their recovery when they complete a treatment program. Whether you have recently completed an inpatient program, intensive outpatient program (IOP) or any other kind of program, it can be overwhelming to tackle life without some kind of continuing care. It is no wonder why continuing care is an essential part of successful recovery.
Continuing care & aftercare plans
The maintenance stage of treatment is known as continuing care, also referred to as aftercare. This stage comes into play once you complete a treatment program. Like the rest of recovery, there is no one-size-fits-all path for continuing care. You should find what resources and services work best for you and your sobriety.
Most treatment facilities create aftercare plans with their patients before discharge. An aftercare plan identifies steps that you can take to keep your sobriety as the highest priority in your daily life. This plan may include sober activities and interventions that foster greater responsibility for your health and well-being. The purpose of these plans is to prevent relapse as best as possible.
When creating your aftercare plan, consider the following tips:
Participate in your treatment center’s alumni program.
Addiction treatment facilities understand the importance of aftercare for their patient’s recovery. As such, many treatment facilities offer alumni programs. These programs help you stay on track with your recovery once you return home. Alumni programs may host sober networking events and keep you connected to other alumni through social media. By participating in an alumni program, you can seek support and encouragement from others who are experiencing similar recovery challenges.
Attend group therapy sessions throughout the week.
Another valuable aftercare option involves regularly attending group therapy sessions once you leave the treatment setting. Much like alumni programs, group therapy provides essential social support. Fortunately, group therapy and/or support groups are available nearly everywhere. You can likely find one even if you do not live near the treatment facility where you completed your treatment program. At New Hope, we provide a comprehensive alumni app to further help you stay connected with peers and events within the recovery community.
Attend individual psychotherapy sessions.
Therapy isn’t only useful when you are actively struggling. It can be incredibly valuable in preventing future mental health crises, especially relapse. Learning how to work through your emotions as they surface can help you avoid putting your sobriety in jeopardy. There is also a range of holistic therapies available that may benefit you.
Seek out or become a sponsor.
Sponsorship and mentorship programs can help strengthen your commitment to abstinence from alcohol and other drugs. Whether you’re looking to get a sponsor or become one, these programs can help you grow in your knowledge about the addiction recovery process. By becoming a sponsor, you take an opportunity to give back to the community that supported you when you were at your lowest.
Three healthy habits for staying sober
In addition to continuing care, healthy habits are vital for staying sober throughout long-term recovery. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) touches on several ways individuals can create a healthier life for themselves. In addition to embracing social support, some of their suggestions include:
1.Do things that give you purpose.
You can become stuck in your progress if your daily activities don’t have meaning behind them. It is incredibly important to seek deeper meaning and purpose for your sobriety. One habit that can help you gain a sense of purpose is setting aside time to meditate daily.
2. Improve your sleep quality.
Poor sleep quality can impact you in many ways. Your relationships may suffer, you may experience distressing physical and emotional reactions, your productivity can decrease and your focus and drive can be compromised. Similarly, poor sleep hygiene can also increase your risk of relapse. A habit that can help you improve your sleep hygiene is going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day.
3. Use a routine that works for you.
Especially during your first few months of recovery, create and stick to a routine that protects your sobriety. For example, you may not feel comfortable engaging with certain people or attending certain events. A habit that can help you create a healthy routine is setting boundaries that honor your emotions and your progress.
New Hope Ranch is a men’s-only addiction treatment facility that recognizes the importance of aftercare when working to maintain long-term sobriety. This is why we offer a comprehensive aftercare program, as well as an alumni app, to help our patients stay sober. We are dedicated to helping our patients successfully heal from the consequences of substance use. To learn more, call (737) 600-8565.