When you’re done with substance abuse treatment, often, the next step is to reside at a sober living home for a few months. In both of those environments you have a strong community of individuals supporting your sobriety. However, once those experiences are over, it can be difficult to return to your home community and expect to stay sober.

As you can imagine, when you return home, you might run into old friends and see family members which could bring up feelings, thoughts, and memories that might be triggering. If you’ve already been through alcohol detox and drug rehab and you’re still feeling vulnerable, it’s important to create a drug treatment aftercare plan so that your triggers don’t get the best of you. And perhaps you already have an aftercare plan, which you might have developed with a therapist or doctor. In this case, the task is to stick with that plan in order to support your sobriety.

It’s also important to keep in mind that, in a way, everyone who has struggled an addiction is vulnerable to relapse. No one is ever “cured” of an addiction, even if they’ve gone through substance abuse treatment. Instead, you should know that recovery is a process. It’s an unfolding experience of no longer depending upon something (drugs and/or alcohol) to survive. Once someone has discovered their own way, independent of substances and co-dependency, then perhaps he or she might be less prone to relapse. However, addiction is not only a physical dependence; it’s a psychological dependence on a drug (alcohol, cocaine) or behavior (gambling, shopping, sexual activity).

Knowing that there is both a physical and psychological dependence to free yourself from, you might see why sobriety can be difficult to achieve. However, it’s been done before by millions of people, and you can do it too!

If you’re ready to return home and you’re determined to stay sober and avoid relapses, consider creating an aftercare plan, if you don’t already have one. One of the most essential components of creating change in life is having a plan. This is true of any kind of change. In this case, however, returning home is going to be a change from a more structured environment to one where you might feel the most vulnerable to relapse. That kind of change is going to need significant support, and having a list of ways to support yourself can keep you sober.

If you don’t already have one, the following is a list of items to consider including in a drug treatment aftercare plan:

-Create a daily routine for yourself.
-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.
-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.

Certainly, what’s more difficult than coming up with a plan is sticking to it. And if you’re the creative, visionary, imaginative type, sticking with a structured plan can be difficult. However, if you can remember that sobriety can help keep you alive, staying sober can help change your life, it can lead to a more fulfilling and meaningful life, then perhaps you’ll find a way to follow the plan you’ve created for yourself.

A drug treatment aftercare plan is a key component to living a successful life of recovery. It is the bridge between sobriety based on external structure to a sobriety based on internal values and desires. A drug treatment aftercare plan can bring you closer and closer to long-term sobriety.

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