Do I Need An Aftercare Program?

Addiction treatment is a process. For many people, staying in recovery means they have to continue to work it, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In addiction treatment programs, a continuum of care is frequently ideal, including an aftercare program.

Not everyone will participate in an aftercare program, but it’s an incredibly important step in recovery for some people.

Below, we talk about what we mean by a continuum of care, what an aftercare program is, and how it could fit into your treatment plan.

What is a Continuum of Care?

In substance abuse treatment, there is a term, continuum of care, which is important. In substance abuse treatment, a continuum of care references offers a wide variety of treatments to meet the particular needs of people in recovery.

The idea of levels of care isn’t exclusive to addiction treatment. It can refer to any situation where patients are guided and tracked through a period of time as they receive comprehensive services in varying intensities.

For example, someone with a chronic health condition like diabetes might receive a continuum of care.

  • The services that are most generally included in a continuum of care for all health conditions and not just addiction treatment include extended, hospital, ambulatory, and home care, outreach, wellness, and housing.
  • You can also break down a continuum of care into four larger categories—planning and management, coordination of care, care-based financing, and integrated information systems.
  • Another way to look at the continuum of care is as a philosophy where you’re getting a patient from a state of illness to well-being. The patient might be gradually transitioning to a healthier state of being over time. 

It’s incredibly important when we’re specifically looking at the continuum of care in treating addiction. Addiction is chronic and progressive; the longer it goes untreated, the more severe it becomes.

  • With addiction treatment, you could begin at the detox phase of treatment, then begin more intensive therapy where you learn about potential triggers and how to overcome them through group and individual counseling. 
  • Treatment might, at that point, begin to include aftercare plans and connections with a recovery support network. 
  • Addiction is not only a chronic illness but also one with high relapse rates. The longer-term a treatment program, and the more it follows an in-depth continuum of care, the more likelihood of positive outcomes.

ASAM Criteria

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has criteria to define a continuum of care. The goal of this criteria is to provide outcome-driven results in treating addiction.

Under the ASAM criteria, there are five primary levels of treatment making up a continuum of care, and decimal numbers are used to show the intensity for each sub-level of service.

These include:

  • Level 0.5 Early Intervention: At this point in the continuum, individuals might receive interventions based on their risk of developing substance abuse problems. They might not meet the criteria for a substance use disorder diagnosis but could have risk factors predisposing them to this potential. The early intervention relies on helping patients understand their risk factors, so they can adjust their behaviors accordingly.
  • Level 1 Outpatient Treatment: At this level, according to ASAM criteria, patients attend meetings that are regularly scheduled. Patients can keep up with their daily routines but still receive professional addiction treatment services. Level 1 can be a bridge for someone who’s not ready to accept a higher level of care, or it can be a transition following the first level of treatment. Level 1 treatment most often focuses on counseling sessions. 
  • Level 2 Intensive Outpatient/Partial Hospitalization: This category has two intensity levels. Level 2.1, the intensive outpatient program (IOP), and Level 2.5, a partial hospitalization program (PHP). At this level, someone might receive psychiatric and medical care, medication management, and crisis services. They might also receive links to other support services like transportation or vocational training.
  • Level 3 Inpatient Rehab/Residential Treatment: Residential treatment is where people will most likely benefit from a stable living environment for recovery. There are several levels of intensity. For example, Level 3.1 refers to a low-intensity but clinically managed residential rehab.
  • Level 4 Medically-Managed Intensive Inpatient Treatment: This is the most intense type of treatment. Someone at this level will receive medical care 24 hours a day, including daily meetings with a doctor. Someone receiving this level of care may also receive treatment for co-occurring disorders.

What is an Aftercare Program?

Regarding intensity, an aftercare program is usually considered Level 1 on the ASAM criteria scale, but it can also be more intensive.  

  • Once someone can achieve sobriety after a period of detox and withdrawal, they must continually work to maintain recovery. Recovery in addiction is similar to remission in chronic disease.
  • Aftercare is an ongoing approach to treatment that you participate in after achieving sobriety.
  • Depending on your needs and treatment plan, an aftercare program can take many forms.

Two of the most common aftercare programs are 12-step groups and outpatient treatment.

  • A 12-step program involves a group setting where you spend time with others in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. 
  • You voluntarily share what you’re comfortable talking about and encourage others in a format similar to a support group during 12-step meetings. 
  • The environment is safe and confidential, and participating in 12-step programs is a good way to build relationships with other sober people and deal with stress healthily.
  • There is a spiritual component to 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, so some prefer alternatives such as SMART Recovery.

Another type of aftercare can be an outpatient treatment program. 

  • Outpatient treatment might be something that you begin after you receive treatment in a residential setting. 
  • Someone with a less severe addiction could move directly from detox to outpatient rehab.
  • You might participate in individual therapy and group counseling. You could also receive care for co-occurring conditions in ongoing therapy. 
  • Aftercare programs might also be a way to provide resources to people who are dealing with the fallout from their addiction as they return to their daily lives. For example, you may have difficulty finding a job or a safe and secure home when you’re in recovery. It’s tough to navigate life after addiction for some people, which can lead to a higher relapse rate.

Aftercare programs may provide access to long-term support through major life transitions, career counseling, and legal support. 

  • These programs might include coaching, community building, case management, and substance monitoring. 
  • An aftercare program can help provide information resources and connections to affordable housing for a person in recovery, upping their likelihood of long-term abstinence from addictive behavior. 
  • For people with the most severe addictions, aftercare might include time spent in sober living homes, also known as halfway houses. 
  • Sober living homes provide a supportive environment once someone leaves a rehab facility. On the road to recovery, a person may not immediately be ready for re-entry into everyday life after leaving treatment facilities. 
  • Treatment centers might include an alumni program as an effective aftercare program. Alumni programs help you stay connected. 

There’s no one answer as to whether or not you need an aftercare program, but most treatment plans will include aftercare in some way.

Aftercare Program Options in the Bay Area, CA

Aftercare programs are an important way to navigate what your sober life will look like and build a life you can be proud of and thrive in. If you’d like to learn more about addiction treatment, please contact Silicon Valley Recovery at 408-547-4089 when you feel comfortable doing so. Treatment for substance abuse needs to put your needs at the forefront of everything, which is what we focus on.

Achieving Long-Term Sobriety with Mindfulness

The goal of treatment for substance use disorders is to help you achieve long-term sobriety. Of course, we know that recovery isn’t always linear. There are many situations where you can complete treatment successfully and still relapse in your sober life. 

That’s okay, and that can be part of your recovery process. 

However, we always want to equip you with the tools you need to achieve long-term sobriety optimally.

One such tool that can take many different forms to help maintain long-term sobriety is mindfulness. We’ll get more into that, but first, we’ll talk a little more about sobriety in general and what it can look like to learn how to incorporate it into your life on a longer-term basis.

What is Recovery?

When you finish rehab or a treatment program and you’re no longer in active addiction, you have to re-enter the world. In many ways, you might feel like you’re experiencing it for the first time. Without the cloud of substances, you may have to re-learn what it’s like to be part of the world around you.

Undoubtedly, there will be challenges that come with navigating the real world, particularly in the initial stage of recovery. The risk of relapse is highest in these early days. 

These challenges and difficult times will require reaching into the toolbox you created during treatment to face them.

In technical terms, your recovery or sobriety is when you aren’t under the influence of a substance. Your recovery can look individual to you, but overall, the goal is to learn how to be a fulfilled, healthy person mentally, physically, and spiritually.

If you have experienced setbacks previously on the road to long-lasting recovery, you can use these as learning experiences. These are opportunities to explore your triggers and weaknesses so that you can deal with them in different ways.

What is Mindfulness?

A concept you can apply to all areas of your life in recovery is mindfulness. Mindfulness is our ability as humans to be present and aware of what we’re doing in a broad sense. When we practice mindfulness throughout the stages of recovery, we’re less likely to become overly reactive or stressed out by things around us.

We all have the inherent ability to be mindful, but we must train our brains to engage in it. Mindfulness is very active, even though it might not seem like it at first.

Long-Term Sobriety

How to Maintain Long Term Sobriety

To maintain long-term sobriety, while everyone’s recovery plan can be different, general things to keep in mind include:

  • Identify your personal triggers. You can work on this in a treatment program, but it may also be something you explore outside of treatment as you’re navigating life. For some people, triggers include emotional distress, being around people who still drink or use drugs, relationships, or financial problems.
  • Recognize the warning signs of relapse that are personal to you. A relapse isn’t a sudden event. Relapse tends to happen in phases. You are likely to begin the stages of a relapse well before you drink or use drugs. The three main phases of relapse are emotional, mental, and physical. Learn the earliest warning signs so you can start to do the work to avoid a full-blown relapse.
  • Actively avoid your old habits and routines. If you don’t make changes to your lifestyle and routines, it’s going to likely derail your ability to maintain long-term sobriety.
  • Work toward building healthy relationships. While you were actively using, your past relationships may have been toxic or harmful. You may have damaged the healthy relationships you would have had otherwise. Begin to build a social support network of people who positively influence your life or take steps to rebuild existing relationships.
  • Make sure you have support. It’s almost impossible to sustain long-term recovery if you don’t have support. Support comes in many forms. For example, you might work with a therapist or counselor. You could attend a 12-step meeting like Alcoholics Anonymous, or you might make sure that you’re regularly planning activities with family and loved ones. If you don’t prefer 12-step programs, other local recovery programs like SMART Recovery help you navigate your daily life in sobriety.
  • Have a set schedule. Routine is one of the ways you’re going to help yourself stay on track in all areas of your life.
  • Emphasize healthy living. Prioritize making time for self-care, exercise, nutrition, and hobbies and activities. You should also make sure you’re getting enough sleep, and you’re taking care of yourself in all ways. Your mental health should always be part of your healthy lifestyle when you’re in recovery from addiction. Having an untreated or uncontrolled mental health issue will make your recovery process a lot more challenging.
  • Celebrate your milestones and successes. They can be small, and you should still celebrate them. Whenever you make progress, it’s important to recognize how far you’ve come as part of your long-term recovery and personal growth. 


How Mindfulness Helps with Maintaining Long-Term Sobriety

Practicing mindfulness can help us get into the moment where we are at any given time and focus on what we’re thinking and feeling.

Learning how to access mindfulness can help people in recovery stay on track with a life of sobriety. 

There’s nothing special you need to buy or change about yourself to become mindful. Anyone can practice it, and it’s a way of life that brings a sense of awareness and improvement into all areas of our lives.

It’s not as new-age as it might sound either. A growing body of evidence shows mindfulness has tangible, positive, physical benefits.

So how does practicing mindfulness help in maintaining sobriety?

  • Quiet your mind. When you’re more mindful, and that becomes part of your life, it can quiet the talk in your head that might create self-doubt or negativity. Rather than letting your mind ruminate on things that aren’t positive, which can lead to relapse, you can regain a sense of calm and focus. Being calm and focused is going to help you make good decisions.
  • When you stop using drugs or alcohol, you may have difficulty relaxing without substances for a while. Mindfulness allows you to recognize what you’re feeling, and then from there, you can label your thoughts and move away from them.
  • The more you can calm down the noise in your mind, the more you can cope with stress effectively and positively throughout your daily routine and your everyday life.
  • When you pull yourself into the present, you can think before you do anything that you might end up regretting. You can pull yourself out of thoughts like glamorizing a time when you were using substances and get back to where you are at the moment.
  • A lot of what you learn as you practice mindfulness is nonjudgmental. This isn’t just a reference to other people. You can learn to be nonjudgmental of yourself. Too often, addiction and relapse are rooted in a sense of shame. You can begin to evaluate yourself through that nonjudgmental lens to shift those feelings of shame you might otherwise experience.

Interestingly, mindfulness may even help you with things you go through physically in the early days of recovery, such as pain or physical tension.

Rather than turning to drugs or alcohol, mindfulness and everything that goes with it can become your coping mechanism, regardless of the situation you may find yourself in.

If you would like to learn more about addiction treatment and begin your journey of recovery, please reach out to Silicon Valley Recovery by calling 408-547-4089.

What Does it Mean to Have an Addictive Personality?

In an article in Scientific American written by author Maia Szalavtz, she defines our question as to the myth that it is. She says, “Even when we joke about having an addictive personality it’s usually to justify an indulgence or to signal our guilt about pleasure, even if only ironically.” An addictive personality, some may think, is a person who is more susceptible to developing a drug addiction based on a few character traits that border on obsessing, codependency, impulsivity, and risk-taking. However, many professionals consider there to be no one type of addictive personality. As George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, says, “What we are finding is that the addictive personality…is multifaceted. It doesn’t really exist as an entity of its own.”

What is an Addictive Personality?

The notion of having an addictive personality exists in popular culture as an image that describes a person who is obsessive or guilty of indulging. It is believed to be an indicator in the person who possesses certain characteristics that make him/her destined to become an addict to something. Although the development of addiction is complex and has various contributing factors, having an “addictive personality” is a mix of truth and skepticism.

There is no single personality type that is more prone to develop an addiction than others. There are signs of having an addiction that goes beyond personality traits, as the signs of an addiction are starkly along these lines:

Signs of Addiction:

  • Always wanting and needing more
  • Continuation of the behavior no matter the consequences
  • Not being able to stop
  • Interferes with functioning in daily life
  • Obsession and secrecy

There are, however, a variety of personality traits that exist confluently and can be predictors of drug abuse and alcoholism. There is just not in actuality anything that proves there is a single type of personality that is addiction-prone. There are other high-risk traits that can exist in any individual that are a cause for questioning whether addiction is more likely to develop. There may even be a stark difference between addictive personality and character traits that predispose drug addiction.

These traits may be:

  • Family relations who have addictions
  • Mental health disorders
  • Risk-taking and impulsivity
  • Inability to self regulate
  • Demonstrates a lack of self-control
  • Obsessive-compulsive
  • Disconnected and antisocial

Do I Have an Addictive Personality?

Do you have a difficult time self-regulating? Is your need for reward strong? Do you know your limits and have had accurate insight as to what those are? Are you able to track the quantity of your use and of any repetitive, dependent behavior?

If you are wondering, “Do I have an addictive personality?” look to see if you have insight about yourself for the warning signs of real addiction. Remember that it does not necessarily mean you will be an addict, as there is no character trait that is a single predictor. Be aware of some of these high-risk indicators and whether they exist for you prominently:

  1. Do you know a family member that has been modeling an addiction to you since childhood?
  2. Do you have a history or are currently experiencing a mental health disorder, namely Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Schizophrenia, or Antisocial Personality Disorder?
  3. Do you tend to lean towards a quick fix and engage in any type of self-medicating when you experience difficulty facing an underlying problem? 
  4. Have you engaged in the substance use of nicotine or alcohol socially, alone, or when feeling stressed?
  5. What are your main coping methods when you experience distress?
Addictive Personality

Personality Traits Linked to Addiction

There are other personality types that can lean toward proneness to addiction. An adventurous and risk-taking personality trait may demonstrate that person as having limited impulse control and seeking out risky and dangerous experiences. They can be more likely to try drugs. A disconnected, rigid, or antisocial personality type can seem to be the opposite of the former type mentioned but can be just as susceptible to engaging in substance use. Difficult times in social relationships are a hallmark of this type, as well as the likelihood of depression, anxiety, and isolative tendencies because the person is more likely to want to mask these feelings by self-medicating.

Obsessive-compulsive traits have to do with how someone controls their impulses, even those people who are rigid and overcontrolled or over-controlling. In the presence of ensuing anxiety, stress, and agitation, they may be looking for a way to manage it all. They may swing on the extreme side of a personality and are prone to develop a compulsion as opposed to safer experimentation or single-use.

Another factor in addiction that may exist in the personality is the need for reward and its strength. The feeling that they are never receiving enough of a reward and build up a tolerance to things they once enjoyed or gave them pleasure, needing more and more. While no addictive personality exists, there are addictive traits that a person can experience.

Some of these are:

  • Impulsivity, with little thought of outcome and consequences
  • Sensation seeking, with lots of need and spontaneous actions.
  • Negative affect, reacting to stressors with unpleasant emotions
  • Neuroticism, who often respond to situations with anger, sadness, and anxiety
  • Aggression, high hostility, and violent proneness.

Can You Be Addicted to a Person?

Along with the problems of drug use, it’s important to distinguish if that type of addiction can exist in relation to another person. There are indicators that yes, a person can be addicted to another person. There are healthy delineations within relationships as well as those that lie alongside unhealthy codependency and a host of negative emotions. The most unhealthy extreme can manifest into love and sex addiction and codependency.

Signs you may be unhealthily addicted to a person include:

  • Obsession and dreaming about them constantly
  • Feelings of incompleteness, emptiness, despair
  • Sadness and longing
  • Anxiety and a continual sense of drama
  • Afraid to be alone or without that person
  • More obsessive attention is given to the partner than to oneself

Involvement in bad relationships while being addicted to that person can lead to alcohol and drug abuse and even physical illness and suicide.

Getting Treatment for Addiction in the San Francisco Bay Area

So, if you ask yourself, “Do I have an addictive personality?” or wonder “Can you be addicted to a person?” it’s important to distinguish the extremes of what indicates addiction and whether you tend to lean on extremes in your behavior. If you tend to obsess over things in life or about another person, insight and self-awareness are always going to be helpful. Know that an addictive personality can never be reducible to one stereotype. We can learn, however, that addiction is complex and dependent on multiple factors. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, call 408-547-4089 and a care coordinator from the Silicon Valley Recovery team will be happy to answer questions and talk about options for treatment. 

Relapse Triggers: Ways to Avoid Relapse

In the context of treating addiction, relapse is the act of a recently abstinent addict returning to use of their addictive substance or behavior. In everyday language, relapse is commonly used interchangeably with the term “relapse into substance abuse,” which is considered the more general definition for returning to addictive behavior. Thus, addiction relapse may be a more appropriate term since not all addicts will return to abusing a specific drug or self-destructive behavior.

Addiction relapse results from the brain returning to addictive patterns of behavior that were overcompensated for in the past. Addiction relapse often occurs when a smoker begins associating situations and feelings with potential triggers for smoking, such as being in stressful situations during addiction recovery. Such stimuli can be reminders of past addictions, for example, drugs or alcohol. Once the brain develops patterns around the common relapse trigger and associates them with smoking, it may fall into old habits.

The process of relapse typically occurs in three stages:

  • Emotional relapse

  • Mental relapse

  • Physical relapse

What are the Common Addiction Relapse Triggers?

Substance abuse triggers are internal and external cues that cause a person in recovery to crave drugs and often relapse or lapse. A trigger for relapse is an emotional, environmental or social situation that drags up memories of drug or alcohol use in the past.

If you’re an addict or alcoholic reading this, you have probably gone through a relapse before. You know the signs, and you know how it feels. The potential for relapse is always there. It’s essential to learn about what addiction relapse triggers are if you want to avoid them so that you can remain sober in the future.

What are Internal and External Triggers? 

  • External triggers are certain activities, locations, people, objects, images, situations, and events that can make you want to use drugs or drink alcohol.

  • Internal triggers are thoughts or emotions that make you want to use drugs or alcohol.

Relapse is a significant component of staying clean and sober. Relapse can be defined as the return to drug or alcohol use after a period of abstinence. Closely about one-third of people relapse within one month, more than half relapse by six months, and virtually all relapse within a year.

Having an understanding of why addiction relapse occurs may help you to keep from the risk of relapse. Here are five of the most common and often seen relapse triggers and ways to avoid triggers in recovery:

 

1. HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

The HALT acronym is one of many simple tools we can use to improve our quality of daily life when facing addiction. Identifying situations that cause us to put ourselves in emotional discomfort helps us be more effective in handling them effectively. For instance, if we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, we become vulnerable to poor decision-making and relapse.

Naming the sensation allows us to take action that may help prevent a situation from turning into one with negative consequences.

 

2. Emotional Stress

 Preventing relapse is a crucial part of the addiction recovery process; however, many individuals may not be fully prepared to cope with the common relapse trigger and temptations they encounter daily. These emotions can serve as reminders of a person’s history and former coping methods, inciting negative feelings of helplessness. When they feel like they are winning the battle against their drug addiction, a perceived negative emotion can lead them to use drugs or alcohol in the first place.

Anxiety is a symptom of relapse. Feeling powerless can trigger a potential relapse. Blaming others for your problems promotes relapse. Never being able to tolerate any discomfort puts you at risk for relapse.

 

3. Overconfidence

Reach the highest highs and the lowest lows. There’s no greater high than recovery, but that doesn’t mean you should get overconfident about your recovery. Overconfidence in recovery puts you at risk for relapse. Being optimistic about your new life as a sober individual is necessary, but becoming overconfident crosses a line from healthy confidence to self-satisfaction and addiction risk.

 

4. Social Isolation

Although your reliance on drugs or alcohol may have initially been your desire to fit in and feel part of a group, this reliance can easily lead to feelings of social isolation and loneliness over time. If you lack a support system to turn to when times are tough, or you’re feeling down, it can become easy to convince yourself that you need a drink or a drug of choice to help you through.

Social support is crucial to long-term recovery. To combat feelings of isolation, contact your nearest Narcotics Anonymous group or other 12 Step fellowship, and ask to be put in touch with a sponsor. Get involved in meetings and activities. This will help you build a recovery network and ease your loneliness.

5. Reminiscing

A major red flag that you have not truly accepted your addiction is when you reminisce about times from the past when you used it. This type of nostalgia is a way to romanticize your addiction, especially if you overlook all the suffering your addiction caused.

It’s important to remember that each drink or drug use was its separate incident with its consequences, emotions, and learning opportunities. These memories can stir up strong emotions that lead to the impulse to use a substance again. Objects in an individual’s everyday life may induce illicit drug cravings.

Holiday parties involving social drinking may be tricky. Avoid high-risk situations and locations. Some of the other people who may be triggering include former drug dealers, co-workers, employers, neighbors, spouses, or partners. Positive feelings can also serve as internal triggers.

Addiction is a chronic brain disease with a relapse rate similar to that of other chronic conditions like diabetes. Addiction is a ruthless master, always finding ways to trick the addict into believing that their behavior isn’t addictive. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40 to 60 percent of people who are treated for substance use disorders will relapse at some point.

If you start to rationalize your addictive behaviors by viewing them through rose-colored glasses, then you are becoming an enabler to your addiction. Focus on the pain your addiction caused you and others. This is what will help keep you on the path to sobriety.

Family dynamics may influence an individual’s substance use abstinence self-efficacy. If you find yourself stuck in a cycle of addictive behavior and are looking for a way out, complete recovery from the relapse process is possible. First, it’s essential to seek help and treatment from a professional specializing in substance abuse or mental health disorders.

Relapse Triggers

Relapse Triggers: Ways to Avoid Relapse

Getting Help

Since many individuals with substance use disorder also suffer from co-occurring disorders, seeking help from an expert who can assess and treat any underlying condition that may have contributed to your addictive behavior is crucial.

At Silicon Valley Recovery, we provide individuals with a comprehensive treatment plan to avoid the common triggers for relapse. We use a combination of professionally supported 12-step meetings, balanced medical care, and evidence-based therapy to give patients a relapse prevention plan that they need to avoid relapse and achieve long-term sobriety. our substance abuse treatment aims to help individuals recognize the early warning signs of relapse and develop healthy coping skills to thwart a possibility of relapse.

Give us a call today at 408-547-4089 and start the recovery process. We offer a wide range of addiction treatment programs to help you fight negative behaviors.