What Should My Aftercare Plan Include?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on

The first few weeks and months after you complete a rehab program can be a vulnerable time. As you return to life in your community, it’s likely that you will be exposed to more triggers than when you were in treatment. Aftercare services help you navigate this critical time and maintain sobriety.

What Should My Aftercare Plan Include?

For people in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, the period following the completion of their treatment program can be a vulnerable time.

After treatment, people attending drug rehab programs will return to life in their communities, where support may still be available but not as readily as it was at the rehab center.

This is why a solid aftercare plan is so important. The right elements in your aftercare plan can help you deal with the temptations and triggers that can lead to a relapse.

Elements Of Addiction Treatment Aftercare Plans

Your aftercare plan should include several elements that give you a broad support base as you begin a life of sobriety outside of a treatment facility.

Elements of an aftercare plan may include:

  • a relapse prevention plan
  • your social support network
  • peer recovery groups
  • ongoing therapy
  • alumni programs
  • sober living arrangements

With a robust aftercare plan that addresses your specific needs, you will be best prepared to handle triggers and avoid a relapse.

Relapse Prevention Plan

A carefully composed relapse prevention plan is one of the most important elements of aftercare, providing both proactive and responsive ways of dealing with triggers or temptations.

Proactive Relapse Prevention

People in recovery can proactively prevent a relapse through good self-care habits.

Self-care may include:

  • keeping in touch with people who support you and give encouragement
  • maintaining a schedule that keeps you engaged in sober activities
  • eating well
  • establishing a nighttime routine so that you get enough sleep
  • engaging in hobbies or activities that you enjoy

Self-care involves taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally so that you can avoid some of the more common relapse triggers, like being overly tired or stressed out.

Responsive Relapse Prevention

While a significant aspect of relapse prevention is being proactive, you also need to have a plan for responding to triggers as they come up.

Ways to respond to triggers include:

  • calling a trusted friend who will listen to you and remind you to practice healthy coping strategies
  • practicing self-soothing techniques
  • taking a few moments for meditation, deep breathing, or getting outside
  • keeping a list of places, people, or situations that are triggers so you can avoid them in the future

Social Support Network

When you develop an aftercare plan, one of the key components is listing the people who are included in your social support network.

Your social support network may include:

  • supportive family members, friends, and coworkers
  • friends with whom you can do sober activities
  • a therapist or counselor
  • alumni from the recovery program you attended

Social support acts as a protective layer around you as you navigate not only the first weeks after completing a rehab program, but also long-term recovery.

Peer Recovery Groups

Another important aspect of an aftercare plan is support groups. Many people first join a support group while receiving addiction treatment and continue meeting with the group once treatment ends.

Peers who have had similar experiences as you have can help you through challenges by being encouraging and offering advice when needed.

SMART Recovery groups and 12-step recovery groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), are common peer support groups.

Ongoing Therapy And Other Professional Support

Also include in your aftercare plan options for professional support, such as substance abuse counseling or therapy.

Aftercare specialists at your rehab center can help you determine how often you will need to meet with a therapist or counselor. Most aftercare plans include “maintenance sessions” about once a month.

Sober Living Housing

When transitioning out of a rehab facility, some people may benefit from a sober living environment.

Sober living homes allow people in recovery to continue supporting each other in a substance-free environment where housekeeping duties and other responsibilities are often shared.

Many sober living homes have house managers who enforce sobriety through periodic drug testing. Opportunities for job placement may also be provided.

Find Addiction Treatment Today

If you or a loved one is in need of addiction treatment, call Addiction Resource today to learn about treatment options and how to get started on the path to recovery.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on
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