Learn more about addiction recovery, sober living, relapse and aftercare.

After completing addiction treatment, the next step in the journey to recovery is to transition from rehab back into the outside world. Rehab aftercare plans help people start living in sobriety and typically involve continuing counseling and therapy, family education, setback prevention therapy and sober living opportunities. Additionally, having a support network of family and friends as well as support groups in the community is an integral part of maintaining sobriety.

Addiction Recovery

Drug addiction is a chronic brain disease, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Similar to a physical disease like heart disease, recovering from addiction requires treatment. Many people also struggle with mental health disorders in addition to addiction, such as anxiety and depression. Treatment that addresses both conditions simultaneously is the most effective.

The first step to recovery is to recognize that an addiction exists. Once someone identifies their addiction, they can seek treatment for their substance addiction recovery. Everyone’s addiction recovery process is different, but there are some common steps in recovery that include:

  • Identifying addiction
  • Learning about addiction and where to find treatment
  • Seeking addiction treatment
  • Embracing recovery

Seeking Addiction Treatment

Choosing to get professional treatment for addiction is the first step toward recovery. Whether someone is searching for alcohol addiction treatment or drug addiction treatment, the number of addiction treatment centers across the country can be overwhelming. Most drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities share the most common types of treatment programs:

Facts and Statistics About Recovery

News headlines often focus on substance use disorders and drug overdoses, and recovery statistics are seldom shared or tracked. Some drug addiction recovery statistics include:

  • Approximately 9% (22 million people) of Americans are in recovery for a substance use disorder
  • About half of those people in recovery use some form of professional or informal support services, the other half do not
  • The most common addiction recovery services are outpatient programs
  • Around 45% of people who attended support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) reported that they hadn’t used substances within the last 30 days

Life After Treatment

Developing a substance addiction aftercare plan is a crucial part of the recovery process. Aftercare plans help keep people engaged in recovery and provide recommendations for local medical and counseling resources for someone to remain in sobriety. Additionally, people may live in a sober house after leaving treatment to ease the transition from rehab back into the community. Deciding to live in a sober home can provide a secure, stable environment where someone can continue to practice their coping skills in a drug-free setting.

Why Sober?

Everyone’s reason for staying sober is different, but it’s critical to addiction recovery to have a reason why. It can range from reaching a career goal or for taking care of a family, to something small yet significant like being able to wake up in the morning. Each person has various reasons to stay on the path of sobriety. Fighting addiction is a lifelong and challenging process, but having a “why” can decrease the chances of experiencing setbacks in recovery.

What Is Relapse?

There isn’t a standard definition of relapse because as with most aspects of addiction, everyone experiences setbacks in different ways. Some common signs of relapse include:

  • Returning to previous habits or old friends
  • Substance cravings
  • Sudden mood changes, including irritability
  • Making impulsive decisions
  • Thoughts of anxiety and depression
  • Denial of events or behaviors
  • Secretive, or lying, behaviors
  • Avoiding family members or friends

If you or someone else has experienced a setback, it could be helpful to go through drug or alcohol detox. If someone starts using substances again after addiction treatment, going through a drug detox can be beneficial to begin treatment again or rid the body of toxic substances. The best option for drug detox is going through a medical detox at a hospital or treatment facility. During medical detox, patients will be monitored by medical professionals because of severe withdrawal symptoms that could result in serious health conditions, problems or death.

Preventing Relapse

Relapse prevention can be implemented through an aftercare plan. Being involved in support groups, especially in addiction support groups like NA and AA, can help someone in addiction recovery maintain their sobriety. Additionally, effective aftercare or relapse prevention plans include:

Support Groups for You or a Loved One

Finding a local chapter of a support group can help anyone in recovery to avoid relapse.

Hosting a Recovery Support Meeting

Many online recovery meetings use video conference calls so members can see and hear each other over the internet. Video conferences allow for more non-verbal communication than a phone call, which can help you better connect with fellow attendees. Participants can also choose whether they’re seen or not and can mute themselves if they desire. Some programs also offer chat room texting options to use when the internet connection isn’t stable.

For those who may not be comfortable with computers or the internet, meeting online can seem intimidating or stressful. Thankfully, people host online addiction recovery meetings on many platforms and websites. There’s a good chance you’ll find a program you’re comfortable with.

More on Recovery

People who are in recovery from addiction have many local and national resources to aid in their recovery journeys. These additional addiction recovery resources can help anyone stay strong in sobriety long after treatment ends.

Living in Sobriety

Read articles about life in sobriety during recovery, how to celebrate the holidays, enjoy vacations and find new hobbies. Read More

Share Your Story

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If you have questions about addiction recovery, these recovery FAQs may have the answers. Read More

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Editor – Camille Renzoni
Cami Renzoni is a creative writer and editor for The Recovery Village. As an advocate for behavioral health, Cami is certified in mental health first aid and encourages people who face substance use disorders to ask for the help they deserve. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Kevin Wandler, MD
Kevin Wandler holds multiple positions at Advanced Recovery Systems. In addition to being the founding and chief medical director at Advanced Recovery Systems, he is also the medical director at The Recovery Village Ridgefield and at The Recovery Village Palmer Lake. Read more
Read Next

American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). “Definition of Addiction.” 2011. Accessed June 25, 2019.

Kelly, John F. et al. “Prevalence and pathways of recovery from drug and alcohol problems in the United States population: Implications for practice, research, and policy.” Science Direct, 2017. Accessed June 25, 2019.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Drugs, Brain and Behavior: The Signs of Addiction.” Updated July 2018. Accessed June 25, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.