Addiction Treatment Aftercare
One of the biggest stumbling blocks in the way of long-lasting recovery is the desire to forget by those who leave substance abuse treatment.
With a clear mind and through sober eyes, they survey the wreckage of their lives caused by their addiction, and they want to put it all behind them. It’s understandable, but treating their disease as an unfortunate period of their lives that’s best left in the past is a dangerous notion. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, relapse rates after substance abuse treatment are as high as 60 percent … but at Cornerstone of Recovery, we know that they don’t have to be.
First and foremost, relapse is a choice, not a requirement. And one of the biggest tools to help former patients make the right choice is enrollment in our Continuous Care Program.
For every patient who comes through Cornerstone, Continuous Care begins the day of admission. If the goal of treatment is to provide patients with a way in which to recover from a life centered around drugs and alcohol, then plans must be laid from day one for what that life will look like once treatment is completed. Continuous Care is a voluntary program that gives an added layer of support during an especially tenuous time for addicts and alcoholics – leaving the safety net of a supportive environment and rejoining society. For many of them, they’re going back to live in a place where they did much of their using, around people with whom they may have used drugs and alcohol. We encourage patients to change “playgrounds, playmates and playthings,” but that’s not always an option, which is why Continuous Care can serve as a lifeline back to the place where their recovery journey began.
Maintain Your Sobriety
Numerous studies have demonstrated that it can take months, even years, for the disease of addiction to go into remission after a recovering person’s last use of drugs. In one study, published in an August 2015 edition of the Journal of Neuroscience Research, brain dysfunction among heroin addicts persisted up to three years. That doesn’t mean that you’re a hopeless case or a lost cause, however; it just means that after leaving treatment, it’s imperative to maintain your recovery by any means necessary, which is where Continuous Care comes in.
What Happens In Continuous Care
On your first day back home, you’ll receive a phone call from one of Cornerstone’s designated Recovery Coaches. Yes, we’re keeping tabs on you, but not in the way that you think; we want you to get what you came to Cornerstone to receive, and that’s long-term recovery that leads to a fulfilling and joyful life. For the first 30 days you’re back home, you’ll be contacted on a weekly basis as a way of checking on you and helping you figure out the stumbling blocks life will inevitably throw your way. Think of our Recovery Coaches as mentors, cheerleaders and just general good listeners, and as you hopefully get settled into your local recovery communities, your conversations will be short and sweet, because your life will continue to improve.
For the second and third months you’re back home, we’ll call every other week … but of course we encourage you to call us, as often as you’d like, as well. Again, these phone calls aren’t mandatory; none of the suggestions we give for your post-treatment care are, but if you want to stay clean and sober, they’ll certainly help. After your third month, we’ll call less frequently – at six months, 12 months and 18 months, you’ll get one to take stock of how you’re doing and what you’re doing. Think about it – one of the first questions people ask any treatment center is, “What’s your success rate?” In order for us to be able to answer this question accurately, we need to compile date from our alumni. So think of these six-, 12- and 18-month assessments as a form of service work: It doesn’t just help you; it helps those who come to Cornerstone after you. Additionally, figuring out what works in your recovery, and sharing that information with us, may help us implement improvements in our programming so that we get even better outcomes. In a sense, taking part in those phone calls is a form of the service work you’re encouraged to do as part of your recovery.
Where Are The Meetings?
If you live in the Knoxville area, you’re more than welcome to attend one of our Aftercare meetings, which are a part of Continuous Care. They meet for an hour, every week, and they’re moderated by Cornerstone alumni. It’s a way for you to touch base with peers who share your Cornerstone experience as well as a method of receiving and offering feedback that’s an additional layer of protection against your disease. We meet three times a week here on campus, and if you live around the East Tennessee region, we also have Aftercare meetings weekly in Gatlinburg, Oak Ridge, Johnson City and Morristown, as well as in Asheville, N.C., Greenville, S.C., Corbin, Ky., and Columbus, Ohio. In addition, there are a number of ways to stay connected with Cornerstone through our Alumni Association, which organizes events every year around certain holidays, as well as the annual Alumni Reunion, held every Labor Day weekend.
Maintain a Connection and Safety Line
For some of our patients, Aftercare attendance is mandatory, but what we’ve discovered is that these meetings become as much a part of our alumni’s post-treatment recovery process as any 12 Step meeting they might attend. It’s a part of every patient’s Personal Recovery Plan, and for those who live in an area where Aftercare meetings are offered, it’s another tie to the place where they discovered a new way of life and a new sense of freedom, and staying connected to Cornerstone through Aftercare gives them a safety line back to where their journey began, and allows them to stay in touch with peers who at varying points along recovery’s path, from the first tentative steps to the new trails we blaze and discover as we grow stronger.
All of these tools are a part of the treatment process for all of our patients, and we’ve found that if they’re utilized and taken advantage of, they’ll only make a foundation for long-term recovery all the stronger. Addiction is a chronic, progressive disease that doesn’t improve overnight, and in early recovery, it’s essential to do everything possible to put it into remission. The goal of our Continuous Care Program is to provide additional support for patients to do just that, and if they choose to take advantage of that support, they’ll be better prepared for life after treatment.
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