Addiction Aftercare Planning Guide

a patient seeking addiction aftercare

Detox is just the beginning of a long journey in recovery.

For the person dealing with substance use disorders, successfully completing detox is the first step on the road to recovery. Staying sober after detox, however, is an ongoing process that will take focus, support, and determination. And depending on the type of support required, they may seek a residential treatment program, supported sober living, therapy, and support groups. Whatever they choose, it is critical to sustained recovery to have a plan for addiction aftercare.

Recovery pathways

A leading study showed that just over half of those who recover do so with the help of mutual-aid programs, followed by treatment, recovery support services, and medication-assisted treatments — some utilizing more than one type of service.

The Recovery Research Institute has helpfully outlined three main recovery pathways:

  1. Clinical pathways: These incorporate help from a clinical professional – for example, detox, treatment centers, and psychotherapy.
  2. Non-clinical pathways: These are typically community-based and peer-led. This category includes mutual-aid support groups and alternative recovery supports.
  3. Self-managed pathways: As the title suggests, this pathway is managed entirely by the individual without any formal support or services. However, this is for individuals who have a lot of support already and may not meet a definition of acute substance use disorder.

For the purposes of our support post-detox, this page focuses on clinical and non-clinical resources.



Clinical resources for people in recovery

Clinical pathways are typically the first line of support for people meeting the definition of substance use disorder. The types of intervention include services from a range of clinical providers, using various levels of medical care and behavioral therapies.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has developed four levels of care used by insurance companies as a universal standard.

outlining the four levels of clinical care

Behavioral therapies

There are a range of behavioral therapies available from licensed counselors and therapists who have experience in treating substance use disorder, including:

  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Behavioral couples therapy


Non-clinical pathways of recovery

Non-clinical pathways represent just over half of all preferred pathways of recovery. They include recovery supports that are peer-led, recovery community centers, educationally based recovery services, faith-and culture-based recovery supports, and recovery housing. Many of these pathways and recovery supports are offered through Recovery Community Organizations. This is a great method of addiction aftercare.


Addiction aftercare: mutual-aid recovery

Like holistic therapies, mutual-aid recovery is often used to support professional treatment and addiction aftercare. It is also used as a pathway of recovery on its own for those who cannot afford or do not want to go into formal treatment. Mutual-aid meetings are a great way to find community and support, both of which have been shown to affect long-term recovery. There are various free meetings to choose from, and each vary in format and program of recovery, including:

Recovery Community Organizations

Recovery Community Organizations (RCOs) are centers within the local recovery community. In these dedicated recovery spaces, people in recovery can find a network of helpful support services, including mutual-aid meetings, peer mentor programs, workshops, social activities, and referrals to support services. Many RCOs can be found through the Association of Recovery Community Organizations.

The Association of Recovery Community Organizations lists the national network of RCOs. These are great options for addiction aftercare.

Recovery housing

Recovery housing can also be referred to as Oxford Houses, halfway houses, or sober living homes. These facilities provide a safe and supportive environment for people post detox or residential treatment. You can find houses that have been certified through the National Alliance of Recovery Residences.

Educational recovery supports

There are two major associations dedicated to providing a supportive recovery environment for their students: the Association of Recovery in Higher Education, which represents collegiate recovery programs across the US, and the Association of Recovery High Schools, which represents students globally.

Holistic therapies

Holistic therapies, much like mutual-aid and peer support, can be used to complement clinical treatments. Typical holistic therapies include massage, aromatherapy, yoga, reflexology, hypnosis, meditation, reiki, acupuncture, art therapy, music therapy, drama therapy, equine therapy, canine therapy, wilderness therapy, and dance and movement therapies.

Recovery coaches

Recovery coaches help promote and enhance the quality of life and well-being of people in recovery. Coaches can help individuals set and achieve goals. While coaches are typically credentialed — from organizations like the International Association of Professional Recovery Coaches or Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery Coaches — they are not to be confused with clinicians and cannot help with crisis and clinical problems. Coaches are there to provide support and help the individual achieve their goals.

Digital recovery support

There is a range of online recovery supports that can be accessed in the comfort of your own home. These include community support groups and online recovery courses. Typically groups are international — the great thing about that is that even if it is the middle of the night, there is usually someone available to talk or provide support.

Community support groups

These Facebook support groups were created for people in recovery. Be sure to read the joining instructions to make sure it is the right group for you.

Online recovery courses

These online recovery courses are typically several weeks in length and provide a program that coaches you through the elements of sustainable recovery. You will work either one-to-one or in a group format.