5 Innovative Discharge Planning Tips for Addiction Treatment Aftercare

Counselor with Client
October 28, 2019
|   Updated:
October 26, 2023

Scientific American asks if rehabilitation successfully treats clients with Alcohol Use Disorder or other substance abuse. They arrive at a strong conclusion: yes, and the success of an individual’s addiction treatment program aftercare depends on the willingness of that individual to participate, including the strength of the plan set up in for aftercare discharge planning.

Each person’s addiction treatment discharge plan after discharge varies depending on their specific needs. Certified interventionist, recovery coach, and managing principal of Life Assurance Recovery Services, John Roesch, helps clients plan their goals for sobriety and gives them the tools to achieve those goals amid their battle with substance abuse.

5 Tips for Sustained Recovery After Rehab

As clients prepare to rebuild their life, Roesch lays out a few critical components necessary to prepare for a smooth transition into recovery after rehabilitation in a facility.

1. Plan Your Next Step

According to Roesch, when undergoing treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder or substance abuse, many people experience a “treatment bubble.” He names it a treatment bubble “because you’re just eating, drinking, and sleeping recovery treatment, and then you get discharged. Then you’re back with the people, places, and things in the environment that got you into detox or residential treatment program in the first place.” 

Finding safe housing after coming out of rehabilitation immediately post-discharge can help soften the culture shock that clients might experience, Improve mental health, and help them to keep following their discharge plan. 

Why Planning is Important

The discharge planning process should start long before the day a client actually leaves their addiction treatment center. Putting a detailed discharge plan into place avoids a “last-minute scramble,” says John, and helps to promote peace of mind and confidence for moving forward. 

Whether it’s finding an addiction psychiatrist or therapist to improve mental health, an outpatient program, or just a stable living environment, putting the pieces of the treatment program puzzle into place as soon as possible helps create a clear guideline to follow. 

2. Find Your Support

Man embracing support group friend.

To navigate the early stages of recovery while minimizing the risk of relapse, it’s crucial to find a support system. The early stages of rehabilitation can be some of the most challenging times. Having the ability to interact with other people going through the same process reinforces the maintenance of sobriety.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine emphasizes the importance of connection to others. Finding a support group like a Twelve-Step recovery group can help improve mental health by putting clients into contact with other individuals working on the same steps as they are. When working together with people in similar situations, it’s easier to want to attend a group and makes participation in a program less difficult. Removing the potential for isolation is key in sobriety, and substance abuse support groups help to create that opportunity.

The ASAM also says that support group participation “opens the door to ‘AA-related activities’ such as volunteer service to one’s AA ‘home group’ or AA ‘clubhouse’ and involvement with AA-related social events, retreats, and local and state conventions.” 

Having the help of a sponsor, a support group, and family and friends can make a huge difference in the success of addiction aftercare treatment. 

3. Manage Your Medication

Pharmacist pulling patient medication from shelf.

Using medication to control Alcohol Use Disorder can benefit clients in recovery and potentially help to reduce their urge to abuse alcohol.* Because there are several differing opinions regarding medication use in addiction treatment aftercare, each individual should carefully consider this option. Combining medication with discharge planning and support groups might prove beneficial for many clients.

Explore Symptoms Contributing to Increased Alcohol Use

Besides medications that relate directly to the suppression of alcohol-related cravings, many clients may benefit from the prescription of antidepressants. These types of medications may help treat a secondary cause that has been contributing to increased alcohol use. Medical management with pharmacotherapy can allow clients to treat Alcohol Use Disorder from many different angles, furthering their journey to sobriety.

4. Foster Communication

Continually having the ability to communicate with a support group, family therapy, a Twelve-Step program, or any other outlet for communication is a huge factor in creating positive recovery habits. Overcoming obstacles and learning effective communication in recovery can be difficult, as clients work through emotions and patterns they’ve developed throughout their lives. Learning empathy, assertiveness, positive self-talk, and how to lift others up can establish boundaries and help with stress management.

Identify Triggers

Continuous communication can identify other known triggers that could hinder the recovery and discharge planning process. “Sometimes, once the primary substance abuse is being treated, other addictions that may have been secondary can become more prominent,” says Roesch. 

“Like a food disorder, eating disorder, sex addictions, gambling addictions, that should be a conversation and something to be aware of.” Not only will communicating help connect clients to others and increase their support system’s understanding of their recovery process, but can also reveal secondary factors to address during discharge planning.

5. Put Your Accountability Tools into Place

Person Reviewing Compliant Soberlink Test

Using accountability tools bolsters the possibility of achieving lasting recovery. Combining a sponsor, a coach, communication, medication, a support group, and other personal tools all synergistically encourage positive aftercare.

Implement Remote Alcohol Monitoring Technology

Accountability is, in many cases, directly linked to success, so incorporating remote alcohol monitoring tools like Soberlink is a key part of the discharge planning process. “When a client starts going back to real-life scenarios, [Soberlink] really is a way to put that thought bubble, as a reminder that ‘Okay, I’m working on getting continuous sobriety together.’ With the daily reminders from Soberlink, it helps to keep putting those consecutive 24 hours of sobriety together,” says Roesch. 

How it Works

A discrete system like Soberlink can also help to ease the tension in scenarios discharge plans where clients might not feel comfortable testing their sobriety, like at work or in the company of others. The convenient alcohol testing device combined with the cloud-based management software sends real-time results using facial recognition technology, making it easier to remain accountable without disrupting a client’s lifestyle. Having the ability to customize testing schedules, notifications, and report settings make it a powerful recovery tool.

Experience Improved Outcomes

Soberlink Advanced Reporting on iPhone

Roesch says that “Soberlink helped especially with these situations for accountability purposes just to make sure that the treatment program plan doesn’t fall by the wayside...it’s helpful to be mindful that you always have one foot firmly in your recovery program.” 

“The opposite of the isolation of addiction is connection,” says Roesch. Soberlink makes the transition into addiction treatment aftercare possible by allowing clients to step back into their lives using inconspicuous technology and personalized care. 

With the proper accountability tools in place, you or your loved one can feel supported during their alcohol recovery journey and discharge planning. Working on getting life back in order after struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder is a process that requires dedication and determination. Discover more about how Soberlink can help.

*Consult a physician before considering treatment with medication.

About the Author

Soberlink supports accountability for sobriety through a comprehensive alcohol monitoring system. Combining a breathalyzer with wireless connectivity, the portable design and technology includes facial recognition, tamper detection and real-time reporting. Soberlink proves sobriety with reliability to foster trust and peace of mind.

Learn More About Soberlink

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