If you’ve made the wonderful life-saving decision to go through addiction and drug withdrawal treatment, congratulations! That’s a significant life step!

If you’re nearing the end, it’s important to consider your next few steps to keep the moment of addiction treatment in motion. Even if you’re not nearing the end, at some point you’re going to have to give your next steps some thought. What kind of support are you going to put in place so that you throw away the value of your treatment? What kind of environment are you going to put yourself in so that relapse simply isn’t an option?

The following is a list of suggestions to consider including in an addiction treatment aftercare plan:

–Create a daily routine for yourself, which include activities that you love to do.
–Make sure you also do one self-care activity per day – taking a walk, unwinding in a hot bath, meditation, etc.
–Go to bed and rise at the same time every day.
–Make sure you’re involved in a community of recovering addicts – those who are also attempting to stay sober – as the an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) community
–Exercise regularly.
–Have a mentor who can help guide your way to long-term sobriety.
–If you need to work, find a work environment that is not going to tempt you. (Don’t get a job at a bar or at a restaurant that sells alcohol.)
–If you need community 24/7 to stay sober, find roommates to live with.
–Stay in treatment in one form or another – therapy, support groups, AA meetings, etc.
–Build a network of support, such as friends and family members who want to support your sobriety.
–Work with a drug counselor or therapist who can help you choose positive thoughts instead of negative ones. This change alone can dramatically shift your perception and experience of life.

As you can imagine, when you return home, you might run into old drinking or drug-using friends. This could bring up feelings, thoughts, and memories that might be triggering and cause cravings to surface.

Although you may be towards the end of your addiction treatment, you may still be feeling vulnerable. For this reason, have a solid plan in place is crucial so that your triggers don’t get the best of you.

The good news here too is that you don’t have to create this plan on your own. You can work collaboratively with a therapist, drug counselor, or doctor. It’s necessary that you have a significant amount of input, but a mental health professional can facilitate creating a plan that is thorough and complete. For instance, it’s necessary that an after-care plan address your physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and spiritual well being. To do this, a plan should include:

Relapse Prevention – One of the biggest fallbacks of treating an addiction is the chance for relapse. It seems as though everything is wasted if someone attends treatment for addiction only to relapse and return to drinking heavily all over again. Therefore, having a plan that addresses the prevention of relapse is necessary. This might include creating a 24/7 plan for every hour of the day for the first few weeks of your release from treatment in order to avoid any opportunities for drinking or drug use.

Family Plan – Addressing the psychological patterns of a family with addiction is necessary if you’re going to return to your family. Family therapy might support healthy communication and healthy relationships within the family in order to further facilitate your sobriety.

Opportunities to Talk About What’s Going On – Be sure to have a therapist, psychologist or drug counselor to speak with.

12-Step Communities or Other Support Groups – Use support groups, such as the AA community to keep you sober.

Transitional Living Environment – Once you’re done with treatment, consider staying at a half way house to continue living in a supportive environment

Integrated Services – Include in your aftercare, an integrated plan of various services that address the varieties of your mental health condition. For instance, you might work with a drug counselor about the dynamics of addiction as well as a therapist about treating depression.

You might see how thorough an after care plan needs to be. As you approach the end of addiction and drug withdrawal treatment, create a plan that ensures long-term sobriety.

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