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What Should Drug and Alcohol Treatment Aftercare Really Look Like?

Finishing drug and alcohol treatment often results in a mix of emotions. You may feel relieved and excited for the next chapter in your life. But you might also be nervous about navigating the real world without the safety net of such close monitoring and supervision.

Successful aftercare is the key to any recovery. It's one thing to do well when you're in an optimal environment. It's another thing to manage your life when you're on your own. Here are some ways to ensure that you're on the right track.

You Know What Work You Still Need to Do

No matter how comprehensive your program was, there is no perfect recovery. You certainly don't leave treatment cured of your addiction! And even if you made significant progress, you aren't done working on yourself.

Knowing where you still want to grow and make progress is essential. In the early stages of recovery, it's normal to feel overwhelmed by the baggage of your past. But having this insight allows you to start planning how you want to live your life.

After all, if you don't know what you want to change, you won't be able to change it. And by recognizing the work that still needs to be done, you can start living more proactively and intentionally.

You're Making Steps Towards Independence

Ideally, aftercare should entail you making strides towards establishing your own life and identity. This, of course, requires you to assume personal accountability. You are responsible for making good decisions and looking after yourself.

Independence can be freeing, but it can also be scary. Maybe you've spent most of your life letting other people make decisions for you. Perhaps, your loved ones have enabled poor decisions and made it easy for you to "coast" through life.

Regardless of the situation, independence requires you to start being proactive in working for what you want. For example, you should be responsible for making and setting appointments, keeping a work schedule, and managing your money.

You're Staying Active In Recovery

Recovery isn't a destination. It's an ongoing process full of ups and downs and learning lessons. It should get easier as time goes on, but you don't want to exist as if things are entirely on auto-pilot.

Staying active in recovery entails committing to ongoing growth and learning. For some people, this work means attending weekly individual or group therapy. For others, it means remaining consistent with 12-Step Meetings or other forms of peer support.

Being active in your recovery also means being mindful of relapse triggers and potential contingency plans should you start struggling again. Of course, it's unrealistic to assume you won't have cravings again. But you should have a plan of action for when these difficult moments arise.

You're Feeling Your Feelings

When you no longer numb yourself with drugs or alcohol, you have no choice but to face your feelings. At first, this process can be unnerving. People often feel terrified to sit with their own emotions.

But you are only human, and that means your feelings are normal. So embracing them- rather than trying to deny, suppress, or rationalize them- allows you to move through them more effectively.

Once you realize that feelings are natural impulses (that ebb and flow), they no longer have such an intense hold over you. As a result, you can live your life without letting your feelings dictate your every action. That's the key to true freedom.

You Have a Moral Compass

Long-term recovery requires integrity and honesty. Most people find that they can no longer live the way they once did. Lying, stealing, or manipulating others spirals them back into addictive behaviors.

Having a moral compass means living a life that's congruent with your values. You know what you believe in, and you stand up for it. You do the right thing, even when nobody is watching.

Having a moral compass can also mean trying to be a better person in the world. For example, you might become more active in your community and work to help others. You also tend to gain awareness of how your actions directly impact the people around you.

Living this way tends to feel refreshing. You no longer have to sneak around or hurt others to meet your needs. Instead, you can be a contributing member of society, striving to give as often as possible.

Final Thoughts

Aftercare is when you implement everything you learned in treatment. It's where you truly put your words into action and take profound steps towards growth and healing.

At The Resurface Group, we help bridge the gap between formal treatment and independent living. We recognize the importance of structured support, living, and safety. We are here to help you as you navigate your life in recovery. Contact us today to learn more!

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