8 “What are My Post-Alcohol Treatment Options?”
Finishing an alcohol addiction treatment program, now newly sober and ready to return to the positive aspects of life, is an accomplishment to be proud of – please understand that not everyone completes their program successfully. However, the hard work is only just beginning.
Alcohol addiction treatment is not a magical pill – it cannot cure an alcohol use disorder. It does, however, put the individual in the strongest possible position to continue their life alcohol-free.
As we know, alcohol addiction is a “chronic, relapsing brain disorder” – “relapsing” is the important message in that definition. A recovering alcoholic must now acknowledge, understand, mitigate, and even eliminate, any dangers of potential relapse. This may mean finding new friends, new social circles to be a part of, and even new hobbies and pastimes.
As most relapses occur in the first 6 months of post-treatment recovery, the newly sober need to avoid potential triggers at all costs. Therefore, developing healthy relationships with sober people can be a smart move. Anyone leaving alcohol addiction treatment should also be given a relapse prevention plan, and be certain of what level of support they need now.
There are a number of post-treatment options available to the newly sober alcoholic (some of which have been discussed previously in Module 3: “I Need Alcohol Addiction Treatment – What are My Options?”). At the very least, it is advisable to begin attending mutual aid support groups, such as AA or SMART Recovery meetings, as these have been proven to reduce the possibility of relapses.
1. One-to-One Counseling / Therapy
Having experienced individual counseling during the alcohol addiction treatment program, many people find it exceptionally helpful, and wish to continue the therapy after their program has been completed. Post-treatment counseling serves a similar purpose, allowing patients to understand why they have certain behaviors, such as using alcohol as a coping mechanism, and how to acknowledge and work on these. Exercises such as mediation and biofeedback encourages individuals to relax during counseling.
2. Mutual Aid Support Groups / Programs
As discussed previously in Module 3: “I Need Alcohol Addiction Treatment – What are My Options?,” mutual aid support groups and programs, like the AA’s 12-Step fellowship, provides both peer-based support and accountability. Additionally, addiction support groups allow people to share their personal experiences, and can also be helpful for recovering alcoholics with a co-occurring mental condition like depression or anxiety.
Here are a few of the benefits of mutual aid support groups include:
- Meet new and sober people
- Learn skills to control cravings
- Receive vital support during early recovery
- Sense of community
In addition to the mutual aid support groups previously discussed, ie. 12-Step programs, like AA and NA, secular programs (non-12-Step), like SMART Recovery and LifeRing, and religious programs, like Celebrate Recovery, here are some additional support groups:
- Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS): SOS,1 also known as Save Our Selves, takes a self-empowerment approach to addiction recovery. Although the group is for any addicted person, many choose SOS for its secular approach to reaching sobriety. The founders of SOS maintain that recovery through self-reliance and personal responsibility is possible.
- Women for Sobriety (WFS): Acknowledging that men and women will face different issues during recovery, WFS 2 became the first addiction support group solely for women. WFS bases its program on 13 “acceptance statements” to determine the way each woman in recovery approaches life. WFS holds groups for addicted women to find mutual support, and, like other support groups, offers moderated online forums and chats.
- Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others (JACS): JACS’s3 mission is to help Jewish recovering addicts and alcoholics in the U.S. live an independent, addiction-free life, by fostering addiction recovery through the integration of individuals into the Jewish community. Importantly, JACS is accepting of all variances of the Jewish faith.
- Addiction Support Groups for Families: Alcohol and drug addiction does not just affect the individual, it affects all members of the family. Because it can be difficult for loved ones to forgive an addicted person or to stay supportive of their recovery, family support groups promote constructive family involvement. Examples of family support groups include Families Anonymous4 and Al-Anon.5
3. Alcohol Rehab / Program Alumni
Another way of being part of a supportive community post-treatment is to see if the alcohol addiction treatment center or facility where you received your treatment has an alumni membership – previous clients who found recovery and stay in touch via the treatment center. Alumni groups hold support meetings and can assist in other ways after treatment.
4. Using a Recovery Coach
Please refer back to Module 3: “I Need Alcohol Addiction Treatment – What are My Options?”
5. Other Post-Treatment Options
One of the most popular ways of maintaining motivation after structured treatment has finished is volunteering with a charitable organization or foundation. This can either be related to the addiction recovery community in some way, or it can be something completely different, such as helping out at an animal shelter or volunteering gardening services to a care home.
- 1 Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS / Save Our Selves) – website homepage. 2021. Available at SOS-NYS.org.
- 2 Women for Sobriety (WFS) – website homepage. 2021. Available at WomenForSobriety.org.
- 3 Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others (JACS) – website homepage. 2021. Available at JewishBoard.org.
- 4 Families Anonymous – website homepage. May, 2021. Available at FamiliesAnonymous.org.
- 5 Al-Anon – website homepage. May, 2020. Available at Al-Anon.org.