Why is aftercare important?

An insight into the aftercare programme – a former patient at Priory shares their journey through recovery

When I arrived at Priory, I was desperate. I was powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable. I knew I had to get sober but I was completely defeated. Frankly, I was grasping at straws. I am fortunate beyond belief that the ‘straw I grasped’ was the Priory team.

What I didn’t realise then, was the commitment that I would receive to help me get, and remain, off alcohol. The environment is a nurturing, but challenging one. The team understand that detoxing and being protected from the real world in a dry environment with 24-hour access to counselling for 28 days is the comparatively easy bit.

My recovery from addiction didn’t truly start until I walked out of the door at the end of my 28-day stay. That’s when the hard work really started.

To prepare me for this, the clinic gave me, at last, a proper introduction to recovery through Alcohol Anonymous’ (AA) 12-Step Programme, which will remain a cornerstone of my recovery through the rest of my life.

Crucially, I was also encouraged to sign up for Manor Clinic’s Aftercare Programme, available to anyone who has completed the clinic’s 28-day programme, and it turns out that aftercare has been every bit as important to me in early recovery as my continuing involvement in AA.

Aftercare has stricter rules than AA, and they work:

  • No wet places or holidays for the first six months
  • No new relationships for the first 12 months
  • A minimum of three AA meetings each week
  • Insistence on finding a temporary sponsor as quickly as possible
  • Checking medication and foodstuffs for alcohol and other addictive ingredients

Being part of aftercare gives you access to something even more valuable – a weekly environment to have your thinking challenged, your ideas scrutinised, your behaviours questioned and your plans checked.

The weekly aftercare format includes:

  • Talking about how you have been working step 3 of the 12-steps (turning over your will and your life to your higher power)
  • Discussing any challenges or problems
  • Asking for help
  • Supporting current patients, providing them with the opportunity to ask any questions they may have about managing in the real world once they leave

Sharing these issues with other people recovering from addiction and with professional moderation and counselling, has been an absolutely vital part of my early recovery.

I particularly like working with current patients, it’s a brilliant opportunity for me to gauge my progress; to see how my thinking is changing, as I continue to live without alcohol.

It’s over fourteen months since my last drink and I continue to attend aftercare when I can. It’s a ‘bridge to normal living’ and as each sober day progresses, and I become able to function increasingly as an emotionally mature and responsible adult, my reliance upon aftercare becomes less acute, which is a good thing.

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