Addiction Treatment Aftercare Plan

Anyone who has entered some form of behavioral health or substance abuse treatment program has probably heard the term “aftercare plan” at some point during treatment. Therapists, case managers, and even physicians will repeat the phrase “make sure you have your aftercare plan figured out before you leave.” Sometimes it can feel so repetitive that it can become frustrating to think about it while also working on many other needs.

The truth is, treatment is a powerful tool to help people reflect, review, and revise their lives through targeted interventions and focused efforts. These efforts are typically most effective while in treatment, and begin to lose some of their strength as a patient begins to return to their everyday life.

The main goal of an aftercare plan is to minimize this loss of strength through actively supporting the individual with a long-term support system of professionals and systems that can continue to offer accountability in early recovery.

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What Is An Aftercare Plan?

An aftercare plan is essentially a map of how to manage all the challenges that life can present while in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. A proper aftercare plan will help guide someone through barriers, crisis events, relapse prevention, and help them establish an identified support system before tackling the journey of long-term recovery outside of a treatment program.

For many, aftercare plans are made up of outpatient treatment programs, sober support systems, and more intensive services such as professional monitoring should it be deemed necessary.

Most treatment professionals will share guidance on how to build an aftercare plan during the treatment process and what they believe might be beneficial for each person, with a focus on their individual needs. When building an aftercare plan, it can help to have a wide view of varying options to include, especially when deciding on how to include friends & loved ones in the conversation.

Aftercare Sections

Peer Support Services

Peer support services are an important part of an effective aftercare plan, as having peer support in recovery is considered practical and necessary for long-term success. It is strongly encouraged by treatment professionals to attend 90 meetings in 90 days when first attending peer support services in order to build a strong peer sober support network. Some examples of peer support services include:

  • Adult Child of Alcoholics (ACOA)
  • Gamblers Anonymous (GA)
  • Celebrate Recovery (Christian Based AA)
  • Overeaters Anonymous (OA)

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Professional Support Services

This section will likely be required as a condition to complete a treatment program. Most treatment programs will require ongoing therapy with a professional as well as medication management with a healthcare provider. There are many other services that are available to assist in early recovery, including long-term drug screening services. Other professional support services available for aftercare plans include:

  • Intensive outpatient programming
  • Professional monitoring services (UDS)
  • Outpatient therapy
  • Recovery specialist coaching
  • Family and couples therapy
  • Primary care provider
  • Medication assisted therapy
  • Psychiatric medication management

Environmental Support

Simply put, the environment in which someone enters early recovery matters. It is extremely difficult to stay sober if everyone around you is not. Sobriety requires a lot of effort and plenty of sacrifices, which the aftercare plan will often address.

Sobriety will also likely pose many new questions people may have never asked themselves. Questions like, what will the sober environment look like when they get home? What will need to change? Who will make sobriety difficult? Where will sobriety be safe? All these questions are important to ask as the aftercare plan is developed. Other things to keep in mind when making an aftercare plan include:

  • Sober & safe employment
  • Religious or spiritual support (church, etc.)
  • Sober & safe housing/neighborhood
  • Sober living options
  • Supportive family members
  • Non-supportive family
  • Supportive sober friends
  • Non-supportive using friends

Relapse Prevention & Crisis Management Plan

In the end, the most importance piece to any aftercare plan is to have a clearly developed relapse prevention and crisis management plan. It is impossible to plan for every type of event that could happen, however, the more effort that is placed into this exercise, the more effective it tends to be. Knowing how to manage cravings, who to reach out to, and what the warning signs of a relapse are all play a major role in maintaining safety in early recovery.

Try keeping these things in mind when building a crisis management plan into your aftercare plan:

Write down:

  • Known triggers (people, places, things)
  • List of self-soothing techniques
  • List of safe emergency contacts


  • Crisis hotlines/contacts
  • Engaging in daily calls to safe contacts
  • Enjoying sober hobbies for self-care
  • Developing & maintaining structured schedule
  • Asking for help

Putting It All Together

Considering that treatment is tailored to the individual, the same should be done for aftercare planning. No two people’s recovery or situation are the same, so taking time to review each area of your life is an important part of correctly developing an aftercare plan.

Each section has a part to play in your aftercare plan, and with the guidance of trusted professionals and family members, long-term recovery is very attainable. It is highly encouraged that you begin your aftercare planning at the very start treatment and be open to any changes that need to be made as more information is collected.

For more information on support groups, outpatient programs, and other questions about treatment, contact a treatment provider today.