Since recovery is a lifelong journey, there are bound to be rough patches from time to time. One of the challenges with long-term recovery is prioritizing sobriety and staying engaged with continuing treatment. Continuing treatment may seem unnecessary for those who have been in recovery for years or even decades or haven’t experienced cravings in some time. However, unexpected situations of stress, grief and other trauma can act as intense triggers to return to substance use, even after years of abstinence. Recognizing how you can stay engaged with continuing treatment and long-term recovery is essential.
The Value of Addiction Treatment Programs
The healing journey from alcohol and other drugs is intensive and complex. While one of the most challenging steps in recovery is accepting a loss of control over substance use and seeking out treatment, staying motivated and engaged can be challenging even as you begin the treatment journey.
Whether you currently find yourself in a treatment program, have recently completed one or attended one years ago, it is crucial to understand the value that addiction treatment programs have on your long-term healing. Your initial treatment program teaches you how to reflect on your underlying emotional distress and associated traumas and how those are associated with your reasons to use substances. Your program also teaches you how to alter unhealthy habits and replace them with healthy coping strategies.
Once you have completed a treatment program, you can quickly lose sight of the impact treatment has made on your healing. Without diligence and engagement in long-term treatment, your brain can resort back to addictive ways of thinking. You may believe that you have complete control over your life and even wonder if you could control recreational substance use again. This dangerous notion is why long-term treatment engagement is essential for lifelong recovery success.
The Importance of Aftercare for Long-Term Recovery
Continuing care, also known as aftercare, is the stage of care that follows intensive treatment, such as inpatient or outpatient treatment programs. Aftercare is ongoing and is essential to an individual’s ability to maintain sobriety after initially achieving it during treatment.
Whether you completed treatment through a residential program or received therapy while living at home, transitioning back to everyday life from intensive treatment can bring about a wide range of mental and emotional challenges. Even if it has been years since you’ve completed your treatment program, navigating your sobriety independently can seem daunting. Aftercare may be the most critical stage of your recovery journey.
Elements of Aftercare
Every treatment facility offers unique aftercare programs that complement your treatment journey and overall healing. Some of the most popular forms of aftercare include:
- Group therapy meetings, such as alcoholics anonymous (AA)
- Alumni groups
- Mentorships, sponsorships and coaching
- Career counseling
- Academic support
- Sober living homes
- Individual therapy
- Family programs
- Online groups
- Utilizing healthy coping mechanisms
How to Foster Long-Term Aftercare Engagement
Perhaps you understand the value that aftercare can have on your long-term recovery. Still, you may be hesitant to engage. If you are not drawn to any of the aftercare options offered by your previous treatment center, you may want to consider seeking out recovery resources in your greater community. Numerous online resources are available to help you stay on track for your recovery.
1. Reflect on your needs in aftercare
If you are feeling stuck as you wonder what aftercare option you can benefit from the most, reflect on your needs. For example, you may think that you have a lot of advice to offer someone who has recently decided to become sober. You may feel the need to share your journey with others, as you know it will empower you to stay on track. In this case, you may benefit from being a mentor or sponsor to others.
Similarly, you may be experiencing disconnect and isolation currently in your life. Your associated need may be social support. In this case, you may benefit from seeking out sober peer groups. If you like adventure or nature, search for sober events and activities in your community. If you prefer intimate relationships with others, consider trying a support group. Remember that all support groups offer different aftercare opportunities, so try not to neglect the idea of support groups altogether if you do not connect with one right from the start.
2. Prioritize mindfulness practice in aftercare
While continuing treatment encourages connection with others, one way to engage with aftercare is by prioritizing the use of healthy coping mechanisms. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, can do wonders for your long-term recovery by increasing self-awareness, instilling gratitude and accepting all situations and circumstances as they come. It is vital to utilize mindfulness during times of urgent need and throughout your daily life to ensure you prioritize your health and wellbeing.
Casa Palmera is a mental health and addiction treatment center that understands the challenges of continuing treatment engagement. We create aftercare plans for our patients as they complete our treatment programs and recommend regular attendance during group therapy meetings throughout the week. We can connect you with different aftercare resources in your community as well that will help you stay on track with prioritizing your health and wellness. To learn more about the value of aftercare, call us today at (855) 508-0473.