Why You Should Get Involved in an Aftercare
September 10, 2018
Listen, at the beginning of a treatment stay, no one wants to think about taking several more months out of their lives to attend an aftercare. Why would they? Everyone just wants to get back to their lives and go “back to normal”.
There is a but here, and the but, is that if you are a real sufferer of a drug or alcohol addiction, or if you are struggling with a mental disorder of some sort, going back to the real world right away is most likely the worst option. Bare with me now.
You are going to be told by your therapist, by your parents, by your case manager, and probably every staff member at your treatment center, that aftercare is your best option. And chances are, you are going to think that NONE of them are right. That they don’t understand you, or at that they underestimate you.
The Reality of Reality
Imagine placing your loved one in a bubble, where they are stripped down of all technology, social media, drugs, alcohol, close friends, etc. Say they take a three-month break from the real world and do some really deep work with trauma, with their anger management, or with their control issues. They adapt to this way of life, this security bubble of comfort and acceptance.
Suddenly, they are plucked from that bubble and tossed back into the real world, where they get to interact with those same old friends, all of the pressures of social media, the weight of financial insecurity, and the challenges of everyday life. It’s a recipe for failure.
However, for those that are placed in an aftercare program, they get a gentle re-introduction back into their lives. Through a scheduled day to day routine, that emphasizes a healthy recovery-work-life-school balance, continued work with their therapist, and guidance on how to live an enjoyable life in recovery, they are shown how to get back on their feet.
Home is Where You Make It
Not only am I in recovery, but I work in recovery as well. I work in a 3-month treatment center that emphasizes the benefits of aftercare for all of our clients. I’m telling you from pure experience, that every client that comes through our doors is hell-bent on not going to aftercare when they are done with the program.
After about a month and a half, they start to come around to how uncomfortable their life at home was, wherever that may have been. At about the 2-month mark they start to discuss aftercare programs with their therapist and family. This is the time that they now want to start CONTROLLING which aftercare program they go to. For example, “I’ll only go if I can go to California”
Towards the end of their stay, after they have done some pretty intensive work on their past, their current situation, their acceptance of self and embracing of self-care and abandoning addictive behavior patterns, they basically come to see aftercare as their best option, now knowing themselves better. For those that never come around to it, we get a letter from their parents a few weeks later, saying they come home and are now struggling again. For those that go to aftercare, they send letters every few weeks about their new jobs, how much they love their new city, their progress in the 12 steps, and how grateful they are. It happens every time.
The Benefits of Aftercare
If you are still unsure what the best option is for you, here are a few different benefits and opportunities you will most likely receive at an aftercare program.
Geographical Change: They say that with us addicts and alcoholics, or even for people who just have a heavy case of bipolar and self-harm, geographical changes aren’t enough to keep us in recovery. However, what they don’t say, is that after a stint at a reputable treatment center, with working the steps and with actively working towards living a better life, a geographical change can often be just what the doctor ordered.
- Geographical changes get us away from the people who enabled or supported our addictive or damaging behaviors
- Geographical changes allow us to start anew without any judgement or guilt from our past
- Aftercare in a new location opens up a whole new world of job opportunities, school possibilities, and friendships.
Structured Schedule: They also say that boredom is one of the most common causes of relapse. When we get too much time on our hands, our minds start to wander, we start to engage in unhealthy behavior patterns, like isolating and Netflix bingeing, and we slowly get dragged back out by our minds. Keeping a busy and healthy schedule is a super important factor in remaining and enjoying sobriety.
- Aftercare programs often require individuals to participate in IOP programs, attend meetings, work about 20 hours a week, and even provide time for school if the individual wants to go back.
- Case Managers will guide and support individuals in the most effective way to build their schedule around what they want to get out of life. Whether it be furthering their education or getting back into their career. They also help with areas such as resume building, smart spending and budgeting, and including therapy into the mix.
Financial Independence: Let’s be honest, a lot of addicts and alcoholics are bad with money. A lot of us pretty much forget how to budget, or even grocery shop effectively, and aftercare program often offer guidance and support in that area. They also allow individuals the option to work and save their own money so they can be financially independent by the time they graduate.
Listen, I know aftercare might not sound like the best idea to you right now, especially if you are just coming into your treatment program, or thinking about going to one. Here’s the thing, not many people get the option to completely start over. If you have this opportunity, take it, embrace it, and don’t let it go to waste.
Do You Need Treatment?
Even though a significant amount of controversy still surrounds addiction, whether it pertains to how it’s being treated or what money should go where, if you are currently addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, you can get help.
Contact the professionals at our residential treatment facility right now. We can help you address the mental, physical, and emotional aspects of your addiction in ways that guide you towards long-term, successful recovery. You do not need to keep using – you have the power to make the decision to get help. Call us today.