The importance of aftercare in the recovery journey
Detoxing from drugs or alcohol, undergoing rehab treatment and starting a solid aftercare recovery journey are all huge achievements and key elements of overcoming drug or alcohol addiction. But to describe recovery as a journey is completely accurate, as staying clean or sober is an ongoing experience and effort that continues throughout a person’s life.
Leaving rehab can be stressful and daunting. This is when the importance of aftercare becomes very clear. It’s absolutely essential to have a clear aftercare plan in place to give you the best chance of continuing your recovery from drug or alcohol addiction and avoiding relapse.
Planning aftercare during alcohol or drug addiction treatment
The best place to begin thinking about aftercare is during alcohol or drug addiction treatment. Aftercare should never be an afterthought – it’s an integral and essential part of any recovery programme. It’s important to think about the transition back into normal life and the coping mechanisms you’ll need to stay away from drink or drugs. The more you plan, the better equipped you’ll be. The following strategies can be very useful:
- Understand the warning signs of relapse and what to do about them (signs include overwhelming tiredness, feeling down or aggressive, having unrealistic expectations of yourself, being dishonest with friends and family)
- How to cope with cravings or external prompts that could trigger an alcohol or drug relapse
- Including close friends or family so that they can support ongoing recovery
Getting back to normal life
Residential rehab can be very busy with structured programmes of therapy and treatment. When a person living with drug or alcohol addiction returns home, it can be difficult coping with so much spare time and temptation can easily call. That’s why it’s important to structure your time and be productive. The following tips are healthy ways to help yourself:
Regular exercise – aerobic exercise increases levels of dopamine in the brain which can help to reduce cravings and the risk of relapse. It also improves mood and self-confidence.
Reflection/meditation – taking the time to remind yourself of why you want/need to stay sober or clean is very important. It’s a good way to reduce stress as you reinforce the positives that you’ll gain from sticking to your recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.
Work – staying occupied is an important part of staying sober or clean. You may not be able or ready to return to professional life immediately, but keeping busy around the house and doing ‘jobs’ is an ideal way to stay productive. Feeling that you have a purpose means you’re less likely to think about drugs or alcohol and act on your cravings.
Be prepared for cravings – craving alcohol or drugs is a normal (but stressful) part of the recovery process. Make a list of things you can do to distract yourself such as going for a walk, phoning a friend or cooking something nice.
Build a support system – this can include friends and family as well as support groups such as AA.
Aftercare support with Step One Recovery
At Step One Recovery, we understand just how valuable comprehensive aftercare is in maintaining recovery when a client living with alcohol or drug addiction leaves our recovery centre. That’s why we provide an aftercare service that’s free to our clients for 12 months.
The service includes group therapy on a weekly basis where you’ll have the opportunity to regroup with your peers and counsellors and talk about how your recovery is going. We offer this type of group therapy both in Spain and at our partner centre, Cassiobury Court in Watford. You can attend whichever group you prefer and you’ll also benefit from ongoing telephone support.