Deciding on an aftercare program can be a daunting process, and over the past few weeks we’ve discussed some crucial aspects to look for, so what are the questions you should be asking? No two programs are identical, so each one is going to go about the same things a little differently, but, there are a few aspects that are proven to raise the success rate of the individual who is in recovery.
First and foremost, what does the daily routine look like? People in their first year of recovery should be kept in action. Activities like chores, book study, groups, and even going to meetings reduce the amount of time that the individual who is recovering spends “in their head.” After all, they have likely spent years partaking in a minimal amount of motion, so it also helps build up a little inertia which gets someone moving in the right direction. Once the person adapts, it’s quite amazing to see how well addicts do in a structured environment.
Another good question to ask is if there are any characteristics that the program focuses on teaching and instilling into their clients. Certain programs focus on specific character traits, and some don’t even focus on any at all, so this is an important question to ask so you can make sure your loved one is learning how to become the best person they can be. The structure mentioned above can be a means of educating the individuals on the importance of work ethic, willingness, honesty, and even how to constructively be involved in a community.
Speaking of community, is there an alumni community for the program you’re looking at? Alumni communities are proven to raise the success rates, by keeping the individuals involved with not only the people in the program but also with each other after they move on. In fact, I still live with someone I went through a program with even years after moving out of the aftercare program, and it has helped on countless occasions having someone around who has been taught the same valuable life lessons, and holds themselves to the same standard, that I do. Being a part of a community has also been proven by modern psychology to promote increased happiness, so not only does this raise their success probability, but it also nurtures a sense of joy.
What is the family’s involvement in the program(s) that you’re looking at? Are they allowed to be in touch with old friends? By having a family involved in the recovery process, the family as a unit gets a chance at re-creating their relationship with one another. We discussed this a few weeks ago so I’d suggest reading that blog for further information on the topic. In my experience, it was also important that I couldn’t communicate with old friends. The majority of them were a detriment to my life anyways; truth be told, the people who are my real friends accepted the fact they couldn’t communicate with me for a year, and when we finally saw each other it was as if it had been only a few days apart.
A seemingly obvious, but often overlooked question to ask is where the program is located, and what is the AA community like in that city? There are a few destinations that have thriving young recovery communities, Los Angeles being the most prominent location. Ultimately, the person who is recovering will want to assimilate into the recovery community as a whole, so the site of the aftercare program is a pertinent detail that can have a long-term effect on the probability of one assimilating into the culture.
Which community are they going to be a part of? If any at all. Not all, but most recovery programs work through some 12 step community, so it’s going to be crucial that you identify which community, if any, they will be associated with. I identify more with being an addict, but AA worked and still works fine for me because I was able to see that they are both manifestations of SUD. The point is that you should want to identify the fact that they are going to be associated with some 12-step community, and which one that is going to be. A further question to ask is if they are going to be pushed to work the steps, and how will they find their sponsor. I was lucky enough to be sponsored by alumni, so it was comforting to have someone there that understood the particular struggles I went through regarding the structural elements I was a part of.
Will you, or your loved one be pushed to get a job, and go back to school? And what is the mentorship like around them through this process? It was an essential stepping stone in my recovery to jump back into the workforce and learn how to manage a full-time job while working a program. Going back to school at the right time was another major stepping stone in my recovery, and in my life. Learning how to manage a full-time job, a program and a full-time school schedule were instrumental; when I finally graduated in May, with straight A’s, it was a pivotal moment in my life. But, I was NOT WITHOUT good mentorship throughout the entire process! I had great mentors in my life, most of which I met through the Aftercare program, and they helped show me the way and keep me on the path through this process.
Last but not least, it’s going to be good to ask if the program runs any groups throughout the day, or even throughout the week. Each program approaches a group setting a little differently, and some even don’t breach it at all. It’s going to be important to identify whether or not a program has daily, or weekly groups, which in my experience, were extremely beneficial for promoting a level of accountability from my peers, and keeping the program in order. If the program doesn’t have any groups at all, I would steer clear, and at the very least I would make sure they have some level of peer groups, and program orientated groups.
In conclusion, these questions should be on the forefront of your mind when you are researching an aftercare facility for yourself or a loved one. It’s going to be beneficial for you to be in the know, and have your finger on the pulse with how you, or your loved one, will be recovering, and even know why they approach it like that.