When treatment begins, many emotions may go through your mind as you take steps to start a new life. While it may not even cross your mind, beginning to plan for life after treatment is something that should be taken into consideration. Residential treatment often provides an area to feel safe from the outside world for those who are battling the immediate crisis of addiction, but the real work of recovery begins when residential treatment ends. Medical detox followed by counseling are only the first steps to a life free from a substance use disorder, and you need to know what is required when you leave treatment and head home.

What Is a Discharge Plan?

The discharge process is a component of a treatment program that helps clients and their families to navigate the ups and downs they can experience during their newly founded sobriety. The discharge process must begin at the onset of treatment. Family and loved ones sending their family members to residential care need to ask about the role discharge planning plays into their treatment stay. A reputable treatment center knows that the discharge process rema

group therapy before drug rehab discharge

ins a focus during the entire duration of treatment. You will be the focal point of the discharge process; however, it is likely many others will be involved.

When in treatment, you will consent to allow family members to be part of the process, and these contacts will be involved in the discharge plan. It’s necessary to mention that despite their role in this planning, they cannot decide your fate. However, they can provide insight into the aftercare requirements. Not only will your family members be a crucial part of this process, but clinicians and other medical and mental health professionals will assist in your recovery plan as well.

Together, the team will create a discharge plan that offers the best chance at lasting recovery beyond the confines of a treatment center.

Once the plan has been drafted, you need to carefully review it and make revisions as necessary. If it is unrealistic, you could be setting yourself up for failure. Make sure that the tasks are achievable. You must know the functional and cognitive abilities for yourself or a loved one and what assistance they require to accomplish their goals of daily living after they check out of treatment. Discharge planning is a critical aspect of this process and should be individualized according to each need. The criteria will vary from one person to another. The more extensive the discharge plan, the more levels of care you complete, the higher the likelihood that you make a full recovery from your addiction.

Sober Living

Sober living, which is also known as “step down housing,” is a living arrangement that will guide you in easing back to home, school, and work life. Having a staff that can surround you 24 hours a day, seven days a week allows for additional support you may not have on your own. With that support, you will be monitored, given a curfew, emotional support, coached, random drug tests, and access to the full continuum of care. At this stage, you will begin attending 12-step meetings and support groups that further your transition into your new life. You must be socially engaged in employment, volunteering, or education depending on the stage you’re at in life.

12 Step and Support Groups

Twelve-step meetings and support groups are less of a means of therapy, but a way to make new friends during the recovery process. It allows you to develop a new support system that you can rely on days that may be harder than others. Sobriety is not a paved path. It is hard work that requires support, and having that support system will allow you to learn practices that improve recovery. These are uplifting situations and will give you the motivation necessary to trek through the long road ahead. Some of the more popular 12-step groups include Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

A sponsor/coach is a person who is in recovery themselves. Their primary role is to help someone new to the recovery transition back to everyday life. While these professionals can help influence your choices and answer questions, they are also a friend that you can have during recovery. They will hold you accountable for your actions and help you to make wise choices that enable you to stick to the recovery plan. It is common for them to attend support meetings with you.


While you may not be religious, recovery requires you to change your values and goals in life. Those who have spiritual resources to support them are usually more successful in recovery. If you do practice religion, you can find a trusted person from church to confide in. This can be an essential step, but if you are not religious, meditation or other positive groups can serve as additional support that’s geared toward keeping you grounded and on a positive mental track.


You must continue support from medical professionals as well during this period. Various clinical support levels such as outpatient services can provide additional support for the challenges that arise during life after substance abuse treatment.

Relapse Prevention Plan

You need to remember that relapse is not a spur-of-the-moment event. It is a three-part process that includes a mental, emotional, and physical relapse. When creating a relapse prevention plan, you need to acknowledge the stages of relapse to avoid a physical relapse. In this plan, you must identify your personal goals in recovery and motivations for change. The program must be able to manage cravings and triggers by naming specific challenges and methods for overcoming them. You must find ways to improve self-care and maintain a healthy lifestyle and prepare communications tools for the support system. Lastly, you must devise strategies to keep yourself accountable to the plan.

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