By Cristina Utti MFA, MA
Residential drug and alcohol treatment is only the beginning of the road to recovery. “Continuing Care” refers to the stage of treatment that follows intensive treatment plans such as detox, residential care, or intensive outpatient care. It is also called Early Recovery Care. Early recovery denotes the first two years of sobriety.
While in intensive treatment, a continuing care plan should be plotted out. When we get sober, our problems do not just vanish. Addiction did not happen in 30 or 60 days, and one is not “recovered” or “better” in this short amount of time. Most people face many problems that occurred due to their addiction. A continuing care professional will assist in issues such as relationship problems, financial concerns, legal problems, learning how to deal with family, and finding employment.
Having a continuing care plan greatly reduces the risk of relapse. The length of time spent in continuing care groups depends upon the amount of time spent using, the amount of drugs and/or alcohol used, previous inpatient stays, history of relapse, and so on.
Continuing care groups are similar to intensive outpatient (IOP) groups but meet less often than IOP, usually once a week for two hours, and come in a variety of formats:
- Individual counseling
- Group therapy
- Telephone counseling
- Self-help meetings
The importance of continuing care groups in early recovery cannot be stressed enough.
Together with other group members and counselors, relapse prevention and understanding of recovery takes precedence. During this time, the focus will be on developing an understanding of twelve-step programs, identifying self-defeating behaviors and attitudes, handling emotional issues, continuing in individual therapy, and learning how to accept life on life’s terms.
Be patient with yourself or your loved one during this process, and take advantage of all continuing care has to offer. As long as you live in sobriety, things will get better, one day at a time!