Transitioning from Inpatient to Outpatient (or Home) Care

You’ve completed your inpatient treatment and it’s time to take the next step. But in what direction? And how can you prepare yourself for what comes next?

Making the transition from inpatient care to life at home or as an outpatient isn’t always easy. The world outside the treatment center will be a big adjustment, no matter where you go. But you can prepare yourself for your next steps, so that your transition goes as smoothly as possible and you remain in recovery.

Make a Plan—Before You Leave

While still in treatment, talk to your counselors and doctors to formulate a plan for aftercare. Be proactive in getting the information you need in exact detail. You’ll make your best decisions while in a supportive environment–not at the spur of the moment–so map out a plan as precisely as you can before you leave your program.

If possible, write your plan down so you can refer back to it when you feel triggered or need direction. Include as many phone numbers, web sites, and other resources as possible, for quick access if you ever need them.

Set Up Continued Care

Completing an inpatient treatment program is an important step. But to assure continued success, arrange for care after rehab ends. Some treatment centers offer intensive outpatient treatment programs (IOP), which start with a patient attending all-day counseling and group meetings, then returning home at night. Eventually the person is weaned from these intensive programs, stepping down into treatment groups that meet once or twice a week for a few hours.

Other centers refer clients to supported living situations or sober living homes, which offer a stable and supportive environment in which to continue your recovery. These can be an excellent choice, especially if you know your previous housing situation is not conducive to the new life you are building.

Support group meetings can also be helpful during your transition. Just remember that often people attend meetings because they are court ordered, not because they are serious about recovery. Ask for referrals to serious in-person or online recovery groups from your counselors, doctors, and other mentors.  

Create a Routine

You may not have realized it, but living with an addiction is time consuming. And too much free time can be dangerous to someone in recovery. Planning a routine will help create structure in your life, keeping your focus away from things that may trigger relapse.

Start simple: Establish a time to start and end each day. If you have work, add that to your schedule. Incorporate your meeting times and any set appointments, follow-up care, or doctor’s visits. Then add physical activity, such as hitting the gym, bicycling, or jogging.

The goal is to keep yourself busy and focused. Other worthwhile activities include volunteering, taking a class, doing housework or lawn care, and visiting with family and friends who are supportive of your recovery. Schedule these activities–don’t wing it! Free time may be uncomfortable at first, but you can find stability in knowing what comes next.

Want to take the first step toward recovery? Our trained admission counselors can direct you to help. Call 866-349-1770 for the assistance you need.


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