Recovery Check-In and Group Therapy for Alumni
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Overcoming addiction is a long journey, full of challenges, struggles and triumphs. Recognizing the dangers of substance abuse and beginning the path to recovery through rehab is an important starting place, but completing rehab doesn’t bring your recovery journey to a close. After you leave rehab, it’s important to understand the temptations you may face and the tools available in aftercare to help you prevent relapse and continue your recovery. The best way to face those challenges is with the help of a peer support group who will keep you motivated, accountable, and sober even after you return to independent life back at home.
What Is Aftercare Rehab?
The time you spend in an addiction treatment program is important to your health, both short and long term. In the short term, your body has detoxified and begun to recover from the effects of substance abuse, and through therapy, you have started to learn coping mechanisms that will help you stay on the path to recovery.
Completing rehab can be an intimidating prospect. Your time there was monitored and support structures were available to help you if the urge to relapse appeared, but once you have completed your program, those support structures may not seem as readily available.
It’s important to understand the new parameters of your life outside of the treatment program so you can be aware of the challenges you will face. Caring for yourself after rehab is vital to your continued sobriety. There are many avenues of support that you can find outside of rehab that can help you remain on the path of recovery.
Nova’s Aftercare program is specifically designed for alumni who have graduated from our residential drug and alcohol rehab program. After completing rehab and acclimating into a new sober lifestyle, you will face events and circumstances you did not experience while in a 90-day treatment program. To help you manage these circumstances and continue on the path to long-term recovery, we provide an Aftercare program that offers ongoing support with regular group therapy meetings.
Aftercare Program Outline
Our Aftercare program meets once a week in a safe and comfortable setting. Each group meeting is facilitated by a licensed counselor and is designed to be a clinical and recovery check-in for alumni of our residential drug and alcohol rehab program.
Each meeting you attend will serve as an opportunity to receive clinical and recovery advice from clinicians and peers regarding your current situation. Group sessions are a safe, welcoming place where everyone has a voice and everyone can be heard. Every week you’ll have the opportunity to share the details of any particular issues you’re facing or provide feedback on another person’s situation.
Over time, you’ll not only feel equipped to handle any and every challenge that threatens your sobriety, but you may also find that your ability to communicate, listen, and encourage others has improved as well.
Nova Recovery Center’s Aftercare program is available at our Austin location. Our Austin group meets once a week. If alumni have questions or need additional support, our staff can schedule a convenient time for a private individual session with a licensed counselor.
Nova Recovery Center does not provide a scheduled Aftercare program in Houston, but our local clinical counselors are available to meet with clients on a case-by-case basis if the need arises.
Aftercare Program Benefits
- Provides continued support from peers in recovery
- Reduces the risk of relapse after rehab
- Offers a safe place to discuss ongoing recovery issues
- Helps clients maintain sobriety with an accountable culture
Understanding the Possibility of Relapse
Once you have completed a treatment program, you may feel as though you don’t need to actively pursue sobriety because you have overcome your addiction. However, once you have returned to your day-to-day life, the stress of work, family or other things can put you at risk for a relapse.
Often times, people view a relapse as a single event, but it typically happens over the course of many occasions. It is usually rare for a relapse to result from a single emotionally damaging occurrence, though it is possible.
There is a difference between a lapse and a relapse. A lapse might be a single occurrence. If you recognize and acknowledge your lapse and return to your recovery plan immediately, you may not suffer a major setback, but if a lapse is not dealt with, it can become a full relapse, with all manner of old habits returning to your life. A relapse is a return to substance abuse.
Altering your lifestyle habits can be difficult, and sometimes it may seem as though changing is harder than it’s worth. Life often involves a series of emotional setbacks that can weigh on the mind and encourage your thoughts to turn back to the drugs or alcohol that you struggled to overcome.
These types of emotional stresses can be triggers for a lapse. Feelings of stress and anxiety can trigger a desire to return to old habits. A significant part of addiction revolves around the reward sensations associated with many substances. During times of emotional upheaval, it may seem like returning to those substances may help you cope.
Other things can act as triggers, reminding you of drug or alcohol use and sparking cravings that put you at risk for a lapse. These triggers could stem from things like:
- A piece of music
- An old photo
- A familiar location
- An old friend who uses drugs
Any of these can be part of the path to a lapse, but they are only part of the process. Once these emotional stresses or physical cravings have developed, you may start to think that returning to your old habits will make you feel better. This can lead you to put yourself in a situation where it is easier to succumb, such as going to a bar or spending time around drug-using acquaintances.
Once you put yourself in one of these situations, it is much more difficult to avoid a lapse, and once you lapse, you may feel guilt and shame that can lead to a full relapse. Understanding these risks and taking steps to build support structures for yourself is an important part of the recovery process.
By learning how to handle a lapse and finding people who can encourage you when you start to feel the emotional stresses and physical cravings, you can give yourself a better chance of fending off a relapse.
Setting Yourself Up for Success
- Viewing relapse as an opportunity for improvement: Fending off a relapse requires understanding that a lapse, while still a setback, does not mean that all of your hard work has been wasted and if you return to your strategy, you can eventually diminish your cravings and learn to cope without them.
- Developing strong coping mechanisms: This is important to handling and reducing your cravings and there are many ways in which to build positive skills that can help you overcome cravings. These coping skills might include meditation, finding new outlets for your energy, recognizing risky behaviors, learning techniques for handling emotional stress and practicing your reactions to possible situations.
- Eating healthy, nutritious foods: What you eat also impacts your mental and physical well-being. Eating balanced meals and exercising can help your body and mind realize the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Knowing how you feel when you eat well and exercise can help you recognize and manage life’s emotional and physical stresses.
- Rewarding yourself: Learning how to provide yourself with positive rewards can also be an important part of your strategy for relapse prevention. These rewards can be anything from special treats to fun activities, so long as they don’t counteract your strategy.
Finding Good Support Systems
Many people believe they must endure recovery by themselves and that the only way to be truly successful in recovery is to make their own way. Asking for help may even feel like a failure. This mentality can be as destructive as the substance abuse it is attempting to overcome. There should be no shame in asking for help when attempting to recover from addiction.
Developing strong support groups can help you maintain your recovery strategy and combat the temptation of relapse. There are a variety of avenues you can pursue in order to build a strong support structure. Just as your internal coping mechanisms are vital, so also is developing a community of people around you who can be there with you through the good and bad times.
- Family and friends: Family and friends are often a good source of encouragement and stability. As people who care about your well-being, they can be there to assist you when no one else can. Your treatment facility may also offer support programs that utilize the skill and dedication of their therapists to help you build more coping skills.
- Local support groups: Locating and joining a local support group can put you in contact with other people who are also living the sober life. These interactions can help you see the possibilities of success and encourage you to continue on your own road to recovery.
- Faith-based groups: Community and faith-based support groups are also possible places for you to find support. A strong sense of community can bring necessary support to your life.
Through these different opportunities, you can develop a support structure that will be present to help you if you experience the urge to relapse.
The Support of Family and Friends
Family and friends can be an important part of your support group, depending on your relationship with them. Drug and alcohol addiction can be fraught with enabling behavior and denial. During your treatment program, your family might have been involved in your therapy and treatment through our family program, and this may have been a good opportunity for them to learn about the behavior they supported and how to deal with it.
After rehab, your family can be a strong source of support while you acclimate to independent living again. There are many opportunities for continued education both for yourself and for your family and friends that can help them learn about addiction and the recovery process.
Your family can also accompany you to support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous so they may continue to learn about the struggles of addiction and also to support your continued recovery by their presence.
In a similar way, your friends can be a source of support by helping you engage in fun and safe activities and by helping you to avoid scenarios that might involve temptation. With the support of your family and friends, you can maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Support from Your Treatment Center and Community
Nova Recovery Center also offers a variety of aftercare services including intensive outpatient programs, sober living programs and personal monitoring. All of these pieces can fit together into a strong support structure, and it is important for you to engage in a supportive community. This may be family and friends, or the support offered by your treatment center or other community-based support groups. Your friends and family are part of your community, but there are many opportunities to expand your community to include people who can have a positive influence on your recovery.
Learning to Avoid Temptation
Developing a strong, cohesive support structure is important for your continued recovery, and unfortunately, that sometimes involves excluding people from your life. As someone who is committed to live a sober life, surrounding yourself with people who continue to abuse drugs or alcohol will only put you at risk for a relapse.
During your substance abuse, you may have developed friendships with other people who also struggled with addiction. While it may seem rude to avoid them, if they persist in their substance abuse, they can only interfere with your goal of recovery. They may view your recovery as a judgment on them and may attempt to pressure you into using again. Even if they don’t attempt to pressure you, seeing them using may trigger cravings.
Not only can interacting with people from your old life create temptations, but it also involves revisiting places where you drank or used drugs. These locations can trigger cravings. If you meet someone you used to drink with at a bar, not only will that person’s actions provide temptation but the location itself can have a negative effect on your resolve to remain sober.
Staying away from these temptations is vital to avoiding a relapse, and this often means removing yourself from friendships and locations that are dangerous to you. Breaking away from these relationships can be a challenge, but it is important to surround yourself with positive influences.
If you find yourself in a difficult situation, remember the coping skills you have learned through your treatment program. Rely on your support structure: call a family member, a friend or a sponsor. The support structures you develop are there to help you when you face temptation.
Recovery for Life
Completing rehab is an important step on your journey of recovery, and it is a new beginning. You can take the skills you learned during your treatment program and begin to apply them to your life. The stricter confines of a treatment program are gone, but there are many new forms of support that you can develop in order to maintain a sober life and build upon the progress you have already made. There are many challenges, struggles and triumphs ahead of you, but with a good recovery strategy, a determination to live a sober life and strong aftercare support structures, you can live a healthy life. Recovery does not occur overnight. It is a lifelong commitment, but the rewards are worth it.
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- Evidenced-based treatment
- 12-Step immersion
- 90-day residential treatment
- Family program
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