28 Days Later
Why planning an after-care program is just as important as in-patient treatment.
Many of us perceive treatment as essentially a 30-day in-patient program where an individual receives 1-on-1 intensive therapy to relieve them of their addictions. For many of us, 30 days is a major commitment, requiring an individual to put aside their obligations to their family, career and lifestyle in order to reconnect with themselves and reclaim a new sense of purpose and intention.
But for the majority who achieve sustained recovery, it requires at least 90 days or more of concentrated commitment in a safe environment to cultivate legitimate recovery. Do you remember the last time you mastered something new? It more than likely took you much longer than a month to become an expert. Nevertheless, the initial concept of spending 3 to 6 months or more in a program of recovery is typically, if not always, met with divergence. Especially as our commitments become greater, we become more reluctant to give up our time even for something as important as getting sober.
However, it is the initial weeks and months after leaving an in-patient rehab program where patients are the most susceptible to relapse. Triggering situations such as returning home or to a career can, with remarkable quickness, spiral a newly sober individual back into their same addictive patterns. And since no one is capable of conceptualizing how susceptible they are at this point, it’s imperative that an aftercare program is explained during treatment and initiated immediately afterward.
Some of the cornerstone elements of aftercare include accountability, comfortability and sustainability. Depending on each person’s own needs and resources, this can be achieved by scheduling out-patient services with a treatment facility or therapist, enrolling in a transitional living home or committing to an aggressive submersion into the recovery community, typically attending 90 meetings in 90 days and finding a sponsor and support system.
During this transitional phase, it is highly recommended that an individual be placed in a sober-living home where they can continue to receive regularly scheduled therapy while maneuvering into real-life situations. While this may initially seem uncomfortable, newly sober individuals typically feel safer and more connected with other individuals in recovery, which helps them to work past this difficult phase. Accountability is monitored as all members are encouraged to attend 12-step fellowship groups, meet with a therapist, secure work and contribute to community chores all while remaining sober. These temporary housing situations, located practically anywhere throughout the country, are comfortable, affordable and free from the outside stressors that may cause relapse.
There are plenty of options in terms of an aftercare programming, all of which are typically tailored to an individual’s personal needs. Professionals discover that they can return to work while living in a safe environment tucked away from home. People with limited resources can afford a semi-permanent housing situation and secure a stable job while growing alongside others in the program. Mothers can choose a facility that allows them to bring young children. And otherwise committed individuals can attend out-patient programming for months following treatment that fits with their schedule.
The truth is, time flies. Many of us, or our loved ones, have spent years in addiction waiting for the right time to get help. I have heard countless individuals explain how everything seemed to slow down once they achieved sobriety, allowing them to finally savor in the life they always wished for. In addition, they gained mental and emotional freedom to think, feel, love, dream, imagine and inspire while beforehand, their mental space was filled with stress, anxiety, regret, resentment, depression and most of all, fear. Mary Augustine once said, “We become happier, much happier, when we realize that life is an opportunity rather than an obligation.” Let you or your loved one experience the opportunity of life through a long-term commitment to recovery.