Did you just finish detoxification and residential treatment? Congratulations. You should be very proud of the progress you have made to this point. Sticking it out during the tough times was not easy, but you have made it through the tough first days of getting sober.
What to do now?
Studies in the world of recovery have shown that when a series of steps are followed, a person who was previously addicted to any substance, alcohol or other prescription or nonprescription drug, can stay clean longer and live a healthy life of recovery.
While participating in individual and group therapy you most likely worked to identify why you started using drugs and alcohol in the first place, why you continued using even after you experienced negative consequences associated with drinking and using, and what you can do each day to keep on making the choice not to drink and use.
When you exit residential treatment and you are no longer held accountable daily for staying sober, and for little things like getting out of bed by a certain time, old habits can creep back in to your life. Even though you may have a strong desire to stay clean, you were most likely using for longer than you have now been sober, and that makes it hard to be completely rid of using behaviors.
Outpatient treatment programs provide a great continuation of care following residential, or inpatient, treatment. Generally, in an outpatient setting you would attend treatment during the day, maybe from 8:00am to 3:00pm, or in the evening from 5:00pm to 10:00pm. You either live on your own or at a sober living home.
Either way, you get out of bed on your own and you get yourself to treatment each day. You have weekends off, but it is recommended that Twelve Step Meetings be integrated into you life, as well as activities with members of your sober community.
Outpatient treatment is recommended for anywhere from four to twelve weeks, depending upon the individual, the treatment team’s observations of the addict, and sometimes, unfortunately, on approval from your insurance provider.
Extended, or continuing care is the general term for any treatment an addict receives after completing formal detox, inpatient rehab, and outpatient treatment. Programs vary and your treatment team can make specific recommendations for you, with a mutual goal of sustained sobriety.
Most likely the facility in which you attended outpatient treatment also offers extended care. The programs can serve as maintenance after “graduation” from the outpatient program.
One to three nights per week, depending on how long ago you completed treatment, you attend a group session lead by one or two counselors. I many cases, several of the other group members are those you got to know in outpatient group therapy or other aspects of outpatient treatment, such as meetings.
Extended care is usually separated into gender-specific groups, as is the case in outpatient treatment for most of the daily activities like group therapy.
While participating in after-care, your treatment team has probably referred you to sober living facilities, if they as a treatment center do not have a sober living of their own.
You will live with other recovering addicts and alcoholics, depending on the type of facility you choose, and you will be provided with sporadic supervision. While you are not as accountable as you were in formal treatment, there is always a staff member available, and there are still rules to be followed while living in the house.
Sobriety is the number one requirement, enforced by a zero-tolerance substance use policy and randomized weekly urine drug screens.
Otherwise, there are house rules specific to the facility: curfew, chores, respect for housemates and staff, meeting attendance, work and volunteer hour requirements, are a few examples.
If you are serious about continuing the sobriety you started in detox, inpatient and outpatient treatment, extended care, including sober living, are highly suggested.
Rebecca Berg is a business development representative for Shadow Mountain Recover, an extedned care recovery facility providing transitional living programs for young men battling substance abuse issues.