The work you do in rehab is just the first step of your recovery journey, because continuing care is critical for long-term sobriety. Continuing care helps you apply lessons from treatment to real-life situations, and it provides a structure for accountability that discourages relapse. In fact, individuals who complete inpatient rehab but avoid continuing care are significantly more likely to relapse.
How Does Continuing Care Work?
The terms “continuing care” or “aftercare” describe any and all therapies that encourage long-term sobriety after initial treatment ends. The specifics will vary from program to program, but these programs generally include the following elements:
- Continuing individual counseling
- Ongoing support group meetings
- Positive support and reinforcement
These programs are sometimes mandatory. However, instead of seeing aftercare as a form of punishment, look at these as resources to aid your new sober life. The frequency and format of these continuing care resources evolve over time, but, in the first phase of continuing care, you may be required or choose to attend some form of counseling every day. Sometimes this care is a daily support group meeting, but other cases might involve a daily conversation with your caseworker or therapist via phone. Many of these programs include mandatory or voluntary drug testing. While this task may seem cumbersome, if you know that you will submit a urine sample, then you may have a powerful reason to avoid relapse.
In the second phase of continuing care, you may attend support group meetings one to two days per week. In this phase, clients achieve a bit more freedom, but they get to experience the relapse temptations that exist in everyday life, which means they can process those temptations in a safe environment. In addition to weekly meetings with your caseworker, you may be required to connect with a sobriety coach or recovery partner on a daily basis via phone or in person. During this phase, many people also take advantage of social media and personal applications that support recovery. Anything from assigned reading to simple text messages to and from your sponsor can prioritize your recovery goals.
Eventually, most recovering addicts find that monthly meetings are adequate for their recovery support. In other words, as someone’s skills sharpen and relapse triggers seem weaker, she may be tempted to stop going to meetings altogether, but this choice is highly dangerous. Many people stay involved in recovery meetings for the rest of their lives, so, even if you have been sober for 10 years, it never hurts to be reminded of the truths you learned about yourself and your disease in rehab.
Books, Films and Other Recovery Support Resources
Book and film discussion groups are excellent recovery resources for many people. Hundreds, probably thousands of books in a variety of genres touch on and reinforce recovery themes. Furthermore, because art has a way of touching people’s emotions, it can speak to the underlying fears and pain involved in drug abuse. However, by shining a light on these emotions and impulses, books, films and music help people continually remember the processes going on in their minds and bodies.
Benefits of Helping Other Recovering Addicts
Another great resource for ongoing recovery is helping other people stay clean, whether that means you become a sobriety support partner or speak at rehab centers. You could get involved in community cleanup days, be an after-school tutor or participate in mentoring programs. Should you serve other people, you might experience the following benefits:
- Serving others boosts your self-esteem
- Service increases your sense of purpose in life
- Volunteering takes your focus off of your own challenges or needs
- Productive work fills free time and prevents boredom
- When others look up to and respect you, it increases your desire to earn and protect that respect
The value of serving others never expires. Whether you are just preparing to enter or leave rehab or you have been sober for fifty years, the more you can invest in helping others, the better your life will be. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as knowing that you matter to another person. In short, service triggers all the “feel good” triggers in your brain in the best possible way.
How to Find Continuing Care for Addiction Recovery
Continuing care resources are available in greater numbers and of higher quality than ever before. If you have questions about the role of continuing care in your sobriety efforts, then please call our toll-free helpline now. Our admissions coordinators offer free, confidential help, and they can connect you with the recovery support that will promote long-term sobriety. Whether you are looking for support by phone, a local recovery meeting or the best inpatient treatment options, our staff can help.
The road to recovery is challenging, but beautiful. It is populated by millions of wonderful people who are eager to walk alongside other recovering addicts. Many people find that some of the most important and lasting friendships they ever experience come through recovery continuing care situations, so you are not in this alone. We can connect you with excellent ongoing support, so call now for instant support.