The Necessity of After Care
Seeking treatment for your addiction is one of the best things have done. Leaving the excellent support you had in treatment is not easy and is sometimes scary. To not undo the hard work you have accomplished in facing your addiction and move on to a healthier future you will need a solid aftercare plan. An aftercare plan is imperative to your long term success and will make a huge difference in your future.
Understanding an After Care Plan
An after care plan is exactly what it sounds like, a plan to help you continue your recovery /wellness once you have left the safety net of the treatment program and return to your life. You will create it with your counsellor but, it should be something that is unique to you and that will address your specific needs. The plan will include suggestions for lifestyle changes as well as preventive maintenance you can follow when returning to your home and community. It will also be a series of steps you can accomplish on a daily basis that will increase your chances of success in your wellness goals.
Why an After Care Plan
Overcoming your addiction and remaining clean and sober is monumental and it requires new behaviours. As tempting as it may be to simply head back to your life, this is often easier said than done. Your primary task once you return to your life is to stay clean and sober and everything else you do hinges on that. As you have learned, you are the only person that is responsible for your recovery; no one else can stay clean and sober for you. With a specific aftercare plan in place when you leave treatment, it should help you to establish a healthy routine. Routine, structure and discipline that is nurtured and supported each day will help you as you learned, to increase your self-esteem and confidence. It is also possible that you will be returning to a situation with a family system that has suffered a lot of damage while you battled your addiction. They will need support and assurance that you are committed to your recovery. An after care plan you can easily and regularly follow may assist and if followed you may be able to rebuild trust with them.
Items to Include in an After Care Plan
After care plans may be individualized, but to a certain extent it should all include key concepts. These include activities such as:
- Therapy schedule
- Attending twelve-step or similar group meetings, including locations and times
- Schedule specific times to contact your sponsor or an elder
- Aftercare appointment or Counselling schedule
- Amount of exercise per day
- Goal for healthy eating
- School or work schedule, and learning how to fit either or both into your new life
- Daily Medication schedule if applicable
- Community or church activities
- Daily time for quiet meditation and reflection
- Cultural activities or plan to seek cultural resources
The goal of your after care plan is to keep you as healthy as possible, so your specific action items need to reflect overall health and medicine wheel components instead of simply focusing on your addiction.
Over time, your plan should be adjusted to reflect your new stage in life. Once you have completed a year of clean and sober living, you may feel comfortable altering your plan to more of a weekly plan, rather than a daily one.
As a recovering addict, the reality you face is that you did not become an addict overnight and you will not achieve long term sobriety that way either. Persistent, continual commitment to your wellness will only be accomplished through dedication and commitment. Following a well-thought out after care plan will help you do just that.
If you experience an urge to USE:
BE MINDFUL OF
- Talk with others. Talk with someone (friend, family member, AA/NA sponsor, minister or counsellor) face-to-face or by phone. Attend an AA/NA meeting. Request an appointment with a counsellor. Keep names and phone numbers in your wallet
- Redirect your activity; go for a drive, work around your home, go to a movie, work out in some physical manner, read, write in your journal, get something to eat, pray. These activities may take your mind off your urge and physical activities may help you relax.
- Changing your thoughts. Tell yourself that you will put off using until tomorrow. Think of all the bad things that have happened to you as a result of alcohol or drugs. Think of how good you feel when you don't use. Think of all the benefits of your sobriety and write them down. Think positively.
- Avoid slippery places, situations and people; don't go to bars, parties, or clubs where you think it will be even more difficult to handle your urge or cravings. Avoid socializing with others whom you feel may influence you to use alcohol or drugs.
As part of our treatment program, you will have developed a "Relapse Prevention Plan" or After Care Plan