How to Prepare to Exit Inpatient Rehab
Transitioning from inpatient treatment to the next phase of the recovery process can sometimes feel overwhelming. That’s why we designed this guide to help individuals and their families bridge the gap from the structure of inpatient rehab to rejoining everyday life. Read on to find our easy to follow check list that includes what to do after treatment, tips for maintaining sobriety, and has handy resources for families and loved ones.
Leaving Rehab Checklist:
When it’s time to leave rehab, it’s important to continue your recovery journey. Knowing what steps to follow can make that transition easier.
- Find an outpatient rehab facility.
- Seek out a sober living home.
- Find a group meeting close to your home.
- Get a sponsor in your support group community.
- Enroll in your facility’s alumni program.
- Tap into resources that can help you to find a job.
- Know how relapse works, and be prepared to deal with it.
- Deliver empathy.
- Provide support.
- Communicate consequences clearly.
- Attend therapy.
Steps to Take Before Leaving Rehab
STEP 1: Find a Suitable Outpatient Drug Rehab Center
Outpatient programs could be just what you need when you are emerging from an inpatient program. In a study in the journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy, researchers examined the recovery path of 4,165 people. The researchers found that all of these people benefitted from aftercare, regardless of the severity of their addictions.
In an outpatient program, you work with a team of skilled professionals who can help you to deepen your understanding of your sober life. You may participate in counseling sessions — either one-on-one or in a group — while you continue to address the addiction and any co-occurring disorders that might contribute to your addiction.
Outpatient programs also provide a level of flexibility that help you to continue the progress you made in inpatient treatment while safely reintegrating back into your day-to-day life. You could spend several hours each week in a program like this, or you might spend just one or two hours per week in therapy.
Talk to your treatment team in your inpatient facility, and find out if an outpatient program is right for you. The team might also help you to find a program that is suitable for you.
STEP 2: Find Sober Living
Sober living homes are drug and alcohol-free environments that help their residents maintain their sobriety. When you go to a sober living home you will have access to ongoing peer support and empowerment, while reestablishing or learning individual responsibility skills and sobriety management techniques — all while in an environment that fosters and supports your recovery journey.
In addition to peer support and skill-building, this step can help you to avoid the temptations that come with living alongside people who may still be actively using drugs or alcohol. The rules of a sober living home are strict, but they can help you to understand how others set appropriate boundaries to protect and maintain their sobriety.
Your inpatient rehab center may have connections with sober living homes in your community, or your center may have sober homes on the campus. Talk with your team about the possibility of a sober home, if it seems like the right choice for you.
STEP 3: Find Local Group Meetings for Drug Addiction
According to Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, there are more than 60,000 support groups using the 12-step model in the United States alone. That means it is very likely that you will be able to find a support group close to where you are living – whether that is a sober living home or your personal home.
In group meetings, you have the opportunity to learn from and listen to other people who are also working toward recovery. They have their own lessons to share and successes to relate. They are more than willing to listen to you and celebrate with you. In addition, most meetings are guided by the principles of the 12-Step movement, made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous, which can provide you with new insights into the addiction recovery process.
There are all sorts of reasons to consider going to these meetings. Evidence shows that peer support helps strengthen recovery efforts by providing support and a sense of community. Through listening to others share their stories about their own recovery journeys, it can help you feel like you’re part of a larger community of folks who get where you are — and they may be able to provide helpful tips and tools for dealing with triggers and cravings.
Your treatment team may have a list of meetings for you to tap into, or you could search online to find out about meetings to attend in your community.
STEP 4: Get an Addiction Recovery Sponsor
Heading to meetings and learning about the 12-Step process could help you to stay sober, even when times are tough. But there may be times when you are dealing with a crisis that has not been addressed in a support group meeting. There may be times when you are having an issue outside of a meeting. And there may be times when you need an individual – and not a group – to talk to. A sponsor in your support group could help.
Finding a sponsor can be relatively easy. In most cases, people who need sponsors simply ask senior members of their support groups for recommendations. Or, if you have been to meetings and you have met someone you like, you can simply ask that person to sponsor you. Most people want to help.
STEP 6: Resources for Employment and Recovery
A job might not be the first thing on your mind when you emerge from inpatient care, but a job could provide you with all sorts of sobriety benefits. For example, a job provides you with a place to go most days of the week, so your schedule is full and time is just not available to seek out or use drugs. A job can also provide you with sober activities and sober peers, and a job can also give you a sense of purpose.
Jobs can be beneficial, but they can also be a little hard to find. You may also be nervous about trying to explain gaps in your resume. However, there are a number of resources available that help you to:
- Boost your job skills.
- Improve your interviewing skills.
- Qualify for jobs.
- Find out about jobs before others do.
- Pass employment screening tests.
- Prepare a resume.
Your discharge team can help you to find out about the programs in your community.
STEP 7: Recovery and Relapse
There is a common misconception that once someone leaves treatment, they’re cured. However, addiction is a chronic disorder that requires ongoing maintenance. Even when your treatment program is complete, you have more to learn and more to do. Sometimes, your learning process will involve a relapse.
When people think about relapses, they often think about a moment when a person suddenly made a mistake and slipped back into addiction. In reality, a relapse is a process, too, and it can take a long time to get there.
In an article produced by the American Bar Association, the authors say some 75 percent of people in recovery experience a relapse within the first year of that recovery. For most people, relapse is a process that begins with discomfort, pain, and a lack of adjustment.
In your rehab program, you may have the opportunity to take courses on the rehab process. Pay attention during those courses, and think about how they might apply to you and your life. When you are preparing to leave the facility, think about the people, places, and things that could trigger an urge to relapse. Then, work with your counselor to identify what your relapse might look like. Then, identify what you could do to deal with those early warning signs when they appear without relapsing.
Importance of Family Support in Recovery
Family can provide key support during the early days of the recovery process. Providing love is the top job of the family of a person in recovery.
There are other specific things a family can do to help prepare a person for the transition from facility to home.
STEP 1: Deliver empathy
Inpatient treatment programs can take months to complete, and when the work is through, the family might be ready for the person to leap right back into routine, everyday obligations. The person in recovery might not be quite ready to handle all of those steps.
Before the person you love leaves the facility, read up on how addictions develop, progress, and are treated. When your loved one is somehow upsetting or exasperating on the return home, think about those addiction lessons. That could help you to provide the love and understanding the person needs as they heal up.
There are a number of helpful family addiction resources that can be beneficial. When asked about families can learn about addiction, Boutté says, “There are a variety of different options. The AA Big Book has chapters called ‘To The Wives’ and ‘The Family Afterwards,’ and there’s even one directed towards employers. Another book I read that gave me a lot of great information about the disease of addiction was called Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy by an author named David Sheff.”
STEP 2: Provide support
A person in new recovery has many steps to take and tasks to accomplish, including finding gainful employment. But some of these steps take time to complete — especially when the person is just getting out of a drug rehab in Las Vegas — and, sometimes, people in early recovery need to lean on their family members until they get all of those details nailed down.
STEP 3: Communicate consequences clearly
A family might choose to place rules and regulations on the person in recovery, so the consequences of a relapse are made very clear and very consistent, or a family might choose to follow in the steps of a sober home and have a family meeting once weekly, just to let everyone clear the air. Either could be great options. The family should ensure that everyone is on board with the method chosen, and that everyone will agree to follow the plan as it is laid out.
STEP 4: Attend therapy
Addictions don’t just touch the lives of people who use. They can also impact the lives of everyone in the family. Family behavior therapy is designed to address all of that damage, so the entire family can come to a new understanding and a new sense of healing. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, family therapy like this has demonstrated positive results in both children and adults. That means it could be a good choice for almost any family out there.
Many families start family therapy before the person leaves the inpatient rehab center. That foundation of therapy allows the family to build connections and mend relationships before the person comes home. But it is never too late to start therapy. Families that begin the work once inpatient rehab is complete might get significant benefits too.
Finding Addiction Help at Desert Hope
When it’s time to get help for addiction to drugs and alcohol, there is effective treatment that can get you on the road to recovery and living a life that you deserve. The caring and compassionate team of addiction specialists at Desert Hope Treatment Center are ready to you every step of the way.
Contact our knowledgeable and helpful admissions navigators at to learn more about our center and our different levels of addiction rehab. They can also answer your questions about how to pay for rehab — including using health insurance to pay for treatment. Recovery is possible so don’t wait. Reach out and start the rehab admissions process today.