What Is Aftercare Planning and Why Is It Important?
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It is a false misconception that once you first make the decision to seek treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) that the hard work is over. When it comes to recovery, the work is never entirely done. You must continue to put in the work and prioritize your sobriety every day for the rest of your life. This involves ensuring you continue with treatment in the months and years after you leave your treatment facility. 

When you first go through the treatment process, the staff at your facility will likely sit down with you at some point and discuss what aftercare planning will look like for you. Aftercare planning involves the steps you will take the second you leave a treatment facility to protect your sobriety and move forward. Aftercare planning is necessary and should be taken as seriously as any other aspect of the recovery journey. 

What Exactly Is Aftercare Planning? 

Struggling with SUD is not a choice that one makes. It is a serious health disease that affects the function of the brain. No matter how desperately someone struggling with this condition may want to seek sobriety, it doesn’t mean that they will have the ability to continue to say no to substance use without ongoing professional help. This is why continuous steps are necessary after a patient leaves a treatment facility. 

Let’s consider what goes into an aftercare plan. It involves a lot more than just what an individual is going to do to keep up with their treatment. It also consists of the life changes that they are going to make moving forward. 

What Questions Will You Be Asked When Developing an Aftercare Plan? 

An aftercare plan is a foundation for the early stages of the recovery journey as the patient transitions back to their day-to-day life. There are many details to consider and information to gather in order to build this foundation. In order to start building this plan, a treatment provider or counselor will sit down with the patient and ask them a variety of different questions. These questions can help provide them with information regarding how the patient’s life was touched by addiction before treatment and what routines and daily habits need to be altered moving forward. It may also involve determining what people in the patient’s life are going to support them and which they may need to distance themselves from for the sake of protecting their sobriety. 

Some questions that a patient may expect to be asked include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Where will you live after treatment, and is this environment safe? 
  • Who will be part of your support system when you return home? 
  • Are the people in your life who may threaten your recovery? How are you going to handle that? 
  • What are your future goals? 
  • Do you have a career to return to? If not, how will you begin to go about finding one? 
  • Are you financially stable? 
  • What are your long-term financial goals? 
  • How did your substance use affect your close family and friends? How do you want this to change moving forward? 
  • What goals do you have for your physical and mental health? 
  • How do you believe your daily routine will change as a result of your sobriety? 

What Are the Pillars of a Strong Aftercare Plan?

While everyone’s aftercare plan is going to look a little different depending on their own life circumstances, there are some primary pillars that each plan could incorporate. These pillars are things that the patient should be equipped with before they leave their treatment facility in order to have the best chance of success. They include: 

  • A plan for treatment, such as therapy or support group meetings 
  • Healthy and effective coping mechanisms to handle stress and a plan in case temptation to use arises
  • Career or education goals 
  • A healthy, sober routine 
  • A plan for managing emotional triggers in order to avoid relapse 

Why Do I Need to Have an Aftercare Plan? 

When people first receive SUD treatment and transition back to their day-to-day lives, they often feel pretty confident in their sobriety. Everything they learned in treatment is still fresh in their minds, and they are just now beginning to enjoy the many benefits of being sober. They’re likely feeling pretty positive about things. However, it is important to remember still that relapse is always possible at any time. It doesn’t matter how much someone wants to be sober or how committed they are to their recovery. 

In recovery and in life, there will be good and bad days. This is why it is important to have a plan so that you can be prepared when those not-so-great days do come. 

When you make the decision to seek treatment for substance use disorder, you must continue to put in the work to maintain your recovery for the rest of your life. This starts as soon as you leave your treatment facility. Patients can’t just be thrown back into their old lives without a plan. This is why aftercare planning is so important. An aftercare plan involves how the patient is going to proceed with continued treatment. It also involves determining who their support system is going to be and what changes they are going to make to their life moving forward. If you’re struggling with substance use, our team at The Ho Tai Way can help. Call (714) 581-3974 today.