Alcohol Rehab Discharge Planning

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From Rehab to Home

Alcohol Rehab Discharge PlanningDischarge Planning often involves loved ones. Many people at the rehab center help plan a discharge, and they are often referred to as a "team." The team members include: the medical and clinical staff as well as loved ones. The medical staff evaluates and finalizes the client's treatment progress and the clinical staff coordinates the delivery of any educational information necessary. During discharge clients are encouraged to seek help from support groups and services provided in their local community. These are called aftercare services and they should effectively address the client's particular condition (alcoholism) or the combination of conditions (e.g. a dual-diagnosed client with an alcohol and gambling issue).

Following the instructions provided during discharge is instrumental for a successful recovery, and they should be chosen according to each client's needs and preferences: culturally appropriate, build on individual, family, and community strengths, and have as their primary and explicit aim: promotion of the person/family's resilience, recovery, and inclusion in community life.

Please note that not all discharges are done after completion of an alcohol treatment program; occasionally an administrative discharge will occur as we exhaust our intervention efforts while trying to help a non-compliant client. Rest assured that termination of services are rare and reasons may include non-participation in groups/therapy, conflicts with staff/clients, threat of safety to staff/clients, etc.

Remember to Keep Triggers and Cravings in Check

You can support your continued sobriety by making a conscious effort to avoid people, places, and situations that trigger the urge to use:

  • Make a break from old drug buddies
  • Avoid bars and clubs
  • Be up front about your history of alcohol use and abuse
  • Get involved in some distracting activity. Reading, a hobby, going to a movie, exercising (jogging, biking) are good examples of distracting activities. Once you get interested in something else, you'll find the urges go away. Another effective response to a drug craving is eating (but be careful what you eat, as eating junk will only add stress and inches to your waistline).
  • Talk it through. Talk to friends or family members about cravings when it occurs. Talking about cravings and urges can be very helpful in pinpointing the source of the craving. Also, talking about cravings often helps to discharge and relieve the feeling, and will help in restoring honesty in the relationship. Craving is nothing to feel bad about.
  • Urge surf. Many people try to cope with their urges by gritting their teeth and toughing it out. But some urges are just too strong to ignore. When this happens, it can be useful to stay with the urge until it passes. This technique is called urge surfing. Imagine yourself as a surfer who will ride the wave of your drug craving, staying on top of it until it crests, breaks, and turns into less powerful, foamy surf.
  • Challenge and change your thoughts. When experiencing a craving, many people have a tendency to remember only the positive effects of the drug and forget the negative consequences. Therefore, you may find it helpful to remind yourself that you really won't feel better if you use and that you stand to lose a lot. Sometimes it is helpful to have these benefits and consequences listed on a small card kept with you.
  • Adapted from: The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism