Most formal addiction treatment centers offer alumni organizations so that former program attendees can continue to nurture the bonds they built in the early days of recovery. Alumni programs help former rehab attendees stay accountable to each other and continue to strengthen their sober social support systems. Moreover, many alumni programs offer alumni opportunities to get involved in helping current rehab attendees. A large body of research has demonstrated that one of the most effective tools for staying sober is helping other people who suffer from a substance use disorder.
12-Step Meetings and Support Groups
Getting involved in a support group is one of the most effective ways to learn new coping strategies, benefit from the experiences of others, and build a strong sober social support system. The most popular types of support groups are 12-step programs. The original and most prominent 12-step program is Alcoholics Anonymous, though a variety of other 12-step programs exist to help people who have addictions to other substances. These include Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, and Marijuana Anonymous, among countless others. These programs have meetings available throughout Los Angeles at every hour of the day, and they charge no fees for members.
At Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or other 12-step program meetings, attendees can benefit from the experiences, strength, and hope of other people who are recovering from substance use disorders. By building new sober friendships, getting support, and providing support as well, people involved in 12-step programs can ensure their long term sobriety.
A variety of non-12-step programs are also available, including Smart Recovery, a mostly online support program that is based on the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Many people find success making use of multiple support groups for different needs and purposes.
Most formal addiction treatment centers require or encourage people to engage in psychotherapy. Sometimes known as talk therapy, psychotherapy can help people come to a better understanding of themselves, as well as the underlying issues behind their addictions. Therapists also work with patients to help them develop new ways of handling emotional distress and other life challenges. There is no reason why therapy should end after graduating from rehab. By engaging in therapy on a long term basis, patients can strengthen their sobriety while making progress on other goals.
Outpatient therapy is an important element of aftercare treatment for many people in recovery, especially dual diagnosis individuals. The term “dual diagnosis” refers to individuals who suffer from a substance use disorder alongside one or more other mental health conditions. Addiction and depression, addiction and anxiety, and addiction and ADHD often go hand in hand, with each condition exacerbating the symptoms of the other.
For dual diagnosis individuals, long term sobriety is often predicated on a willingness to treat an underlying mental health condition. However, outpatient therapy is enormously beneficial as well for people who exclusively suffer from addiction, especially pragmatic and skill-based therapeutic modalities such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
Sober Living Homes
Leaving rehab and returning to the outside world can be stressful and challenging, especially for people who are already emotionally vulnerable in the early days of sobriety. Sober living homes can help people transition back to the outside world while continuing to receive support. Sober living homes are houses where residents with a commitment to sobriety live together. They provide safe and trigger-free spaces for residents to develop and practice their newfound coping skills.
For most residents, the social support system that they develop while living in sober living homes is the most important element. Not only do sober living homes offer structure and a sober environment, but they help people build new sober relationships. Staying in a sober living home after rehab can dramatically lower a person’s likelihood of relapsing, and it can support them as they rebuild their life.
Case managers at addiction treatment centers remain an invaluable resource long after a person has graduate from rehab. Case managers have multiple functions: they are guides, counselors, supporters, and advocates. If you encounter any difficulties after being discharged from your rehab, your case manager can help you obtain the resources you need.
These resources may directly relate to recovery, but it is just as common for people to need help with legal problems, debt, childcare, medical care, or affordable housing. As you prepare to leave rehab, discussing your needs with your case manager or treatment team can help smooth the transition to the outside world.