Completing a rehabilitation program for drug or alcohol addiction is a major accomplishment that should be celebrated. Now your focus shifts. When you were in treatment, your focus was on overcoming your addiction. Now that you are beginning your recovery journey, your focus shifts to remaining sober, which is a lifelong process. Assuming that your work is done after rehabilitation can be detrimental while you are trying to stay sober and vastly underestimates the severity of what you’re going through. It takes time to get back to where you were before your addiction took hold of your life.
Once you complete an inpatient rehabilitation program, you will return to normal life—work, family, friends, and hobbies—which can be frightening because the situations and people you will encounter can trigger cravings and temptations. This is why after care and alumni services exist.
What Are After Care and Alumni Services?
Recovery doesn’t end after treatment; it’s only the beginning of a life-long recovery journey. After care and alumni services refer to the additional support a client may require after leaving an inpatient treatment center. After care and alumni services allow for an easier transition into everyday life and your chosen sober lifestyle. While you may no longer have the constant support of counselors and peers, and you may find yourself in different situations in life that make you want to use again, additional services are offered to help ease your transition after rehabilitation. Oftentimes, a step-down program is used.
What Are Step-Down Programs?
Step-down programs facilitate clients’ transition back into their daily lives following the ending of a treatment program. Step-down programs may offer intensive outpatient care, sober living options, as well as referrals to outside therapy to support a smooth client transition into a sober life.
A major focus of a step-down program is avoiding relapse. In this stage of recovery, you will learn the warning signs of relapse and how to prevent it. In addition, you will learn to use the tools you gained in rehab in other areas of your life to continue to live a truly sober lifestyle. These new skills that will carry you forward in your sober lifestyle include:
- Avoiding substitute addictions
- Building healthy relationships
- Developing a substance-free lifestyle
- Handling money and employment
- Managing anger
- Including exercise and proper nutrition in your life
These skills can help aid in a successful transition from inpatient rehabilitation care. In addition to learning these skills, you will learn about resources in your community that can help you remain sober after rehab. These can include referrals to support groups, tools for avoiding typical situations that may trigger cravings, and strategies for establishing social networks that can help you maintain sobriety.
How Can I Make the Transition Easier on Myself?
In addition to participating in a step-down program, there are other steps you can take to help yourself transition into a sober lifestyle. The first and most obvious step you can take is to find sober friends or stay in touch with people you met while you were in treatment since addictions are often influenced by other people, especially friends. In addition, the temptation to use will usually diminish when you are surrounded by other people who are committed to staying sober and who have found ways to have fun without drugs or alcohol.
Another way to help yourself is to make and keep follow-up appointments with a therapist. Once your step-down program is completed, you will need to head to therapy on your own. This can be hard at first, but it is crucial. Therapy beyond treatment programs can help you to:
- Process your feelings regarding work
- Cope with family issues
- Handle relapse triggers
- Set goals for the future
- Strengthen your coping skills
Finding a support group can also be extremely beneficial to those transitioning out of rehabilitation programs. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) are two well-known and effective support groups. Programs like these can bring a feeling of affiliation, which helps people feel less alone in their efforts to maintain sobriety and deal with life’s struggles. In a support group, you will learn more about addiction and what life can look like without using substances. You also have the opportunity to tap into a network of people working their way through similar issues, allowing you to gain new insights into how to deal with your own challenges.
While transitioning into life after rehabilitation can be scary, there are continued care options for you. While the transition may feel very overwhelming at first, you will make it through with support and determination.
If you or someone you love is worried about the transition after rehabilitation into a sober lifestyle, please know that help is available to you. Recovery does not finish at the end of treatment. Maintaining sobriety is a life-long process that needs ongoing support. Understandably, each person has different needs in relation to family, children, employment, and extenuating circumstances. At Bella Monte Recovery Center in Desert Hot Spring, California, our team assists in accommodating and tailoring each plan to fit a client’s specific needs to develop a healthy future. We offer step-down programs and alumni services that will ease your transition back into your daily life, all while remaining sober. If you think residential treatment is right for you, we will be there every step of the way during and after. For more information on what we have to offer, call (800) 974-1938 today.