The transition from rehab to home can be a perilous time for those who ate not adequately prepared for it. It is tempting to think of the last day in a treatment facility as a type of graduation day, buy this is far from the truth. When people are in rehab they are protected from all types of temptations and they are in a supportive environment. It is the first few months after treatment that is the most dangerous time because this is when the risk of relapse is highest. In order to reduce the risks associated with the return home it is strongly recommended that people develop some type of personalized aftercare plan.
Personalized aftercare plans are used in the management of various long-term health conditions including addiction. From a medical point of view this type of plan can be defined as:
“Personalised care planning aims to give people with long-term conditions more control over which treatments and services they receive, addressing their full range of needs and supporting them to self care.”
A personalized aftercare plan can be defined as a strategy for dealing with any challenges that the individual is likely to face once they leave rehab. It will also contain commitments to engage in activities that will help to promote sobriety. Each individual will have their own unique needs and aspirations, and this is why the plan needs to be personalized. If the individual just tried to follow some generic aftercare plan they might struggle because it does not fit their requirements.
This type of planning is important because:
* It is far easier to deal with things that have been planned for. It means that the individual will not fall into a panic and become indecisive – instead they just follow their plan.
* The early months of recovery tend to be a challenge. The better prepared people are for this the easier it will be for them.
* If people do not have a plan for early recovery they will easily end up off course. It is hard for people to get anywhere in life if they don’t know where it is they are going to.
* It is a great comfort to have a strategy for the early months of their new life. If they are ever in doubt they can just refer to this strategy.
* By putting energy into these preparations it proves that they are taking their recovery seriously. Initially the idea of making such a plan may seem unnecessary, but the individual does it because they are prepared to do whatever it takes to stay sober.
* Each individual will have their own unique needs and challenges. If they fail to prepare for these they will not be ready for them.
* It tends to be people who put a great deal of effort into planning that have the most success in recovery.
* This strategy should ensure that the transition from rehab to home occurs smoothly. If things do go wrong the individual will know what to do.
* When people are able to stick to their strategy it helps to boost their self esteem. This gives them the confidence to set more ambitious goals for the future.
* The individual learns how to develop plans and to then follow them. This is an important life skill for anyone looking to achieve good things.
It is vital that each individual takes responsibility for their own personalized aftercare plan. Those people who are staying in rehab will be able to get guidance from the counselors, but it will be up to each individual to ensure that they are ready to deal with the reality without alcohol or drugs. Each person will have their own unique needs and concerns and their plans for aftercare should reflect this.
The whole point of an aftercare plan is to be ready for a new life away from an addiction and to have plans for any difficulties that are likely to arise. Elements of a good personalized aftercare plan include:
* The individual will need to consider how they can get support from family and friends. If their family is not likely to be supportive then they will need to choose alternative avenues for such support.
* It is likely that former drinking or drugging buddies will try to reestablish contact. It is important that the person has a plan so that they can keep any contact with such individuals to a bare minimum.
* Most addicts will be in poor physical and mental shape when they arrive in rehab. The individual should have plans for how they can regain their physical health and fitness once they leave rehab – for example, they may plan to join a gym.
* It will often be advisable for the individual to continue with some type of counseling once they return home. Most people will have unresolved issues that may take a good deal of time to deal with.
* It is crucial that people have sufficient support once they go home. Some may decide to obtain this by joining a recovery fellowship such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
* The individual is almost certainly going to be faced with temptations once they are back in their own environment. They will need to have plans for how they are going to deal with these temptations.
* One of the most effective ways of strengthening recovery is to do some volunteer work. This means that the individual will not be so focused on themselves, and this type of work greatly boosts self esteem.
* Boredom in recovery is one thing that people will want to avoid because it can so easily lead to relapse. It is therefore of great importance that they plan for plenty of activities once they return home.
* The individual can commit to some positive daily actions such as keeping a recovery journal or doing some type of exercise.
* The early months of recovery can feel quite emotional and stressful as the individual adjusts to dealing with life without alcohol or drugs. It is therefore recommended that they learn some relaxation techniques.
* A common reason for why people fall into substance abuse in the first places is that they have poor coping strategies. It is therefore important that they make plans for developing new strategies for the future.
* Humans are highly influenced by the people they come in contact with. It can be helpful to spend time with those who have already built a successful recovery.
* People should not create a strategy that is full of drudgery – recovery needs to be fun!
* The individual should consider potential relapse triggers and have tactics on hand for avoiding these.
The individual will have a great deal of freedom in how they go about creating their own aftercare plan, but there are guidelines such as:
* It is often the things that have been left out of the plan that turn out to be the most troublesome later. It is therefore important to be as thorough as possible.
* The therapists and counselors in rehab will recognize the importance of these aftercare plans, and they are sure to be able to offer advice and guidance. The onus is on the individual though to get the most out of these professionals.
* This type of plan needs to be realistic. If the individual makes plans that are not really achievable they are setting themselves up for failure.
* While such plans should be realistic it is also important not to leave the bar too low. Most of the limitations that people suffer from in life are imposed by themselves.
* It is recommended that people go over their completed aftercare plan with their rehab counselor.
* Hearing about other people’s plans is helpful, but the individual will want to focus on their own specific needs. There are almost certainly going to be many similarities between these plans, but there should also be uniqueness to them as well – otherwise the plan is not personalized.
* The transition from rehab to home is so crucial that people should begin preparing for from day one in treatment. If the individual goes home without being prepared for what they are going to face they have a high risk of relapse back to their addiction.
* This plan should not be written in stone because it may be necessary to make adjustments to it. This is because the reality of life away from rehab is likely to involve unforeseen challenges.
* It is not such a good idea to have a plan that relies too much on other people.
* If people find that they have departed from their plan they are advised to get back on track as soon as possible. There is no point in devising a strategy if people are not prepared to stick to it.
* The individual will need to set regular dates for assessing their progress and reevaluating their plan. Ideally this should be done with the help of a counselor or therapist.
* Some rehabs will have an exact format for devising this type of plan. There will also be time devoted to creating it.