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Importance Of Discharge Planning

Importance Of Discharge Planning

There are many components to one’s recovery when it comes to treatment for substance abuse or addiction.

Each step builds on the previous, and each is integral in the success of one’s sobriety. Discharge planning is a structured treatment plan for people preparing for life after successfully completing a substance abuse or addiction treatment program. Recovery from substance abuse or addiction is a lifelong process, and one’s discharge plan will help an individual prepare for it.

Leading Up To Discharge

Treatment for substance abuse or addiction will begin with a detox phase. In this phase, an individual will go through the process of eliminating drugs or alcohol from his or her body. This is typically done over time, simply by an individual ceasing to use drugs or alcohol and allowing his or her body to recalibrate without the presence of the abused substance. Occasionally, medical invention is required, depending on the type of abused substance or substances, to help mitigate possibly dangerous withdrawal symptoms. There are many options from which to choose regarding the type of detox an individual goes through (i.e. medically supervised detox, at home detox, medically assisted detox, natural detox…etc.). Regardless of the type selected, detox is essential in one’s substance abuse or addiction recovery process.

Subsequent to one’s completion of detox, an individual will most frequently attend some form of substance abuse or addiction treatment program.

There are several different types of treatment programs. There are inpatient programs, where an individual will live at a substance abuse or addiction treatment facility for a certain length of time (varying between 14 days to 6 months) and participate in the treatment program. There are also outpatient treatment programs that require an individual to attend a certain number of hours, daily or weekly, to participate in the treatment program, but do not reside at the treatment facility. Outpatient substance abuse or addiction treatment programs will also vary in duration. In both of these options, common practice once an individual has successfully completed the treatment program, is to conclude with a detailed discharge plan for the individual. This is intended to be further specified support for an individual beyond the completion of his or her treatment program.

Discharge Plan

Due to the fact that there are many different substance abuse or addiction treatment programs, each location will most likely have its own format for discharge planning. Discharge plans will also look slightly different for each person, as they are catered to each individual’s specific needs. Discharge plans will help an individual prepare for the outside world. Depending on the person, his or her discharge plan will include many detailed suggestions.

Discharge plans will vary, but may include any combination of the following recommendations: further mental health treatment, medication management, recovery coaching, twelve step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), non-twelve step support group meetings, or peer-to-peer guidance (i.e. a sponsor). Some discharge plans will include information and direction regarding the importance of nutrition and regular exercise.

Another commonly recommended aftercare plan is for individuals to be advised to move into a sober living facility, or transitional housing, post the completion of his or her substance abuse or addiction treatment program.


There are several steps an individual struggling with substance abuse or addiction can take while implementing his or her discharge plan. Take initiative and continue to give yourself the gift of sticking true to your hard work and maintaining your sobriety. Throughout your treatment program you will have identified some of your known triggers. Once you emerge from your program, make a conscious effort to avoid people and situations that may trigger your urge to use drugs or alcohol. Give yourself a break and do not initially put yourself in a situation where drugs or alcohol are present, for example, avoid bars and clubs.

Create a group of sober individuals to spend time with. If you feel as though you are tempted to use drugs or alcohol, ask for help. You have a network of individuals you have created throughout your treatment program, that are available for you.

Further Information

Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. There is no reason to go through this alone. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction. We are available anytime via telephone at: 213-389-9964, or you can always email us at:

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Call (213) 389-9964 or fill out the form below to reach Peggy Albrecht Friendly House.

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