According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Addiction, in 2014, 16.3 million adults ages 18 and older abused alcohol.1 Addiction is a progressive disease that alters your brain function and can lead to catastrophic losses in your life, including death.
One sign you may be abusing alcohol is if you drink more often and in higher quantities than you originally intended; continue to use despite negative consequences; or need more alcohol to achieve the same buzz you did when you first started drinking.
While treatment lays the foundation for the road to recovery and long-term sobriety, aftercare helps you move forward in your successful recovery. And a comprehensive, well-thought-out, and individualized aftercare plan is vital to maintaining your sobriety after completing a treatment program.
Benefits of an Aftercare Program
Generally, alcohol problems are chronic, involving cycles of abstinence, relapse, and treatment. This has led researchers to design approaches that provide a continuum of care, blurring the traditional distinction between intensive initial phases and follow-up with ongoing support groups or individual therapy.
Research shows that if you have consistent therapeutic interventions for at least a year, you are more likely to find long-term success in your sobriety.2 So for many people, comprehensive wraparound services during the first several months of sobriety are an important factor to help prevent relapse.
What Is the Most Treated Substance?Ethanol is one of the most abused substances among recovery treatment attendees, according to a Recovery Brands survey in 2017. 68.85% of respondents engaged in treatment for alcohol abuse, and 52.87% of people that took it reported that alcohol abuse treatment was their most common recovery goal. Regardless of how many substances a person has had problems with, alcohol is one of the most worrisome. Luckily, alcohol abuse treatment is readily available. Call our helpline at 1-888-287-0471 to begin recovering from alcohol abuse today.
When you commit to the support and accountability of continued recovery, it helps you stay motivated and use the coping skills you learned in treatment. With each month of sobriety, your recovery peers and aftercare counselors continue to show their encouragement and pride in your achievements, which helps you rebuild self-esteem that may have suffered during your alcohol abuse. This aftercare support system also helps you learn how to avoid triggers and provides a source of support when you feel most vulnerable.
Freedom from your alcohol abuse addiction is just a phone call away. Our caring treatment support specialists are here to give you the help you need. Call anytime at 1-888-287-0471 .
Sober Living and Halfway Homes
“A recovery home is the bridge between the acute phase of recovery and long-term, sustainable, out-on-your-own recovery,” said David M. Sheridan, executive director of California’s Sober Living Network. “Think of it as training wheels for how to ride the bicycle of independent living.”3 You can find recovery homes in most communities, and they typically look like a single-family residence that offers a place to live in a supportive sober living environment.
For many people, going home into the environment they lived in while using after completing a treatment program is a recipe for disaster. This is what makes sober living homes and halfway houses excellent aftercare choices for many people. Both offer newly sober people a safe place to continue on the road to recovery as they transition from inpatient or outpatient treatment back into the community.
Another advantage for sober living and halfway homes is the built-in 12-step and peer supports available in many of them. One difference between the two living environments is that halfway houses require residents to have already completed or be enrolled in and attending a treatment program, and you can only live there for a limited time.
Sober living homes also offer specialized recovery plans and provide a supportive environment in which you can work on your recovery programs and learn to live clean on your own. The philosophy of sober living is heavily based on peer support and regular involvement for maintaining long-term recovery.
Individual therapy is a wonderful form of recovery support and an integral part of both initial treatment and aftercare. The focus of individual therapy is often related to building coping strategies, managing triggers, psychoeducation about relapse, stress management, and support for social, familial and employment issues. You work collaboratively with the therapist to address current issues that may make you vulnerable to relapse; specify goals; and develop a plan that is mutually agreed upon.
There are a number of benefits to group counseling, such as mutual support, accountability, and the experience that “we are all in the same boat,” which normalizes the challenges of early sobriety. Adults often learn by hearing about others’ experiences so group counseling provides the opportunity for members to develop or improve upon social skills and to learn from one another ways to cope and stay sober.
A few goals for group therapy include:
- Desire for self-understanding.
- Eagerness for change.
- Nonjudgmental acceptance of others.
- Active involvement.
- Commitment to recovery.
According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), some of the most common therapies used are:5
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which teaches you to recognize and stop negative patterns of thinking and behavior and replace them with positive ones. For instance, CBT might help you become aware of the stressors, situations, and feelings that lead you to drink alcohol so that you can avoid them or make better choices when these situations arise.
- Contingency management, which is a form of therapy that sets up a reward system for reaching goals and positive behavior in general.
- Motivational enhancement therapy, functions on the premise that you must find an internal motivation to be clean that is stronger than your motivation to drink. The therapist works collaboratively with you to strengthen this positive motivation, mapping out a detailed plan of how you will move through your treatment and achieve and maintain sobriety.
For some people, medication is also an important component of their overall treatment plan, helping not only with early sobriety symptoms of withdrawal and cravings, but providing additional support for long-term sobriety. It is not uncommon for people with an alcohol use disorder to have additional diagnoses such as depression and anxiety, and best practices suggest working with a psychiatrist who specializes in addiction medicine helps round out your treatment protocol.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the original 12-step program that has been around for more than 75 years. AA is an international, nonprofessional peer-run support group for anyone who wants to quit drinking alcohol. A number of other 12-step programs based on the AA model have emerged over the years, such as Alanon and Alateen for family and friends of alcoholics, as well as Narcotics and Gamblers Anonymous, Love and Sex Addicts Anonymous, and more.
Joining a 12-step fellowship is another safety net to help you stay sober, while gaining the support of a community of fellow people in recovery. According to AA, the 12-step program incudes a “group of principles, spiritual in nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become whole.”4
Someone who has worked the 12 steps and has been in recovery for a long time can help you along the way by answering questions, giving support, and being available outside of meetings when you feel the urge to drink. Keep in mind that your sobriety and attendance in AA meetings can eventually provide hope to another person who is new to the program.
As we all know, life is not easy and you can be thrown off course by unexpected curve balls at any time. Those who are newly sober are especially vulnerable to relapse, so finding and using everyday-life support can be a real sobriety-saver. Often, people who have a decent amount of sobriety under their belts will volunteer to support those who are new in their recovery.
Some of the services they may provide include:5
- Driving you to and from treatment.
- Job coaching.
- Academic tutoring.
- Parenting support and education.
- Long-term sobriety tips and support.
- Spiritual and faith-based support.
- Community involvement.
In some instances, you will receive a case manager to help you bridge gaps where you are most vulnerable to relapse. For certain people, the means helping to compensate for a lack of social supports or homelessness. A case manager can help you develop independent living skills, provide you support with treatment, and serve as the point of contact between you and the people in your social and professional support systems, which can make a tremendous difference between relapse and recovery.
Stress is a normal part of life that most people expect and that they understand is a passing experience…most of the time. You also may have heard of good stress versus bad stress. Good stress can motivate us to get going, push through procrastination and resistance and get things done. Bad stress, on the other hand, can be chronic with no relief in sight. It can lead to burnout, chronic health problems, and relapse.
Therefore, stress management and self-care are critical for maintaining your sobriety and overall health. The following strategies have proven useful to many people in recovery:
- Mindfulness practice, such as yoga, meditation, and prayer.
- Increased self-acceptance—go easy on yourself.
- Adequate sleep, regular exercise, and proper diet.
- Avoiding use of drugs and alcohol.
- Accepting support from others.
- Pleasure reading, listening to music, enjoying art.
- Getting a massage, reiki, acupuncture, or acupressure.
One of the best ways to deal with stress is to take action, which provides you with a certain measure of control.
Getting involved in the world outside of your routine, such as with volunteering, is an awesome way to get started. The benefits of altruism are far-reaching and often unexpected—helping others in need not only feels good, but it can be very inspiring and is a natural action for us as social beings.
There are many benefits of volunteering, such as focusing on something outside of yourself. The challenges other people in the community are faced with can positively alter your view on your own life too. Your situation may then seem less overwhelming and much more manageable when put in perspective with someone else’s.
Being part of something larger than yourself helps provide a sense of purpose and belonging, which are powerful antidotes to the desire to drink. By positively getting involved with others, you may begin an enriching and wonderful journey. Learning something new, being valued, and receiving positive feedback are all encouraging results from giving back to the community.
Alcohol abuse and addiction doesn’t have to dictate your life. There is hope for recovery and an end to dependency. Find where your hope can begin by calling a treatment placement specialist at 1-888-287-0471 . The call is free and the potential rewards are priceless.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Addiction (2016). Alcoholism Alcohol Facts and Statistics.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Addiction (2016). Treating Alcoholism as a Chronic Disease: Approaches to Long-Term Continuing Care.
- The Sober Living Network. (2016). Welcome to The Sober Living Network.
- Alcoholics Anonymous. (n.d.). What is AA?
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Treatment for Substance Use Disorders.