Alumni events are usually dinners, outings, or even therapy sessions held for the graduating members of a drug or alcohol rehab program. They’re offered by any rehab center that offers aftercare. And, much like a high school reunion, it can be easy to dread them, dismiss them, or decide not to go. However, alumni events can be an important part of your recovery and they can actually help you to stay on track.
If you’re attending a rehab program or have done so and they have alumni events, it’s important to ask about them, ask what goes on, and then decide if you should go or not based on that information. However, in most cases, the answer is “you should definitely go”, even if it means taking the day off and traveling out of state. Here’s why.
If your rehab program is hosting regular alumni events, you’ll have social accountability to stay clean and sober. What is that? It means that you’ll feel pressured to stay clean or sober before your alumni event, so you don’t have to show up and tell the group that you relapsed – or worse, not show up at all.
Social accountability is actually an extremely powerful tool in helping people to stay clean and sober. “If these people I know and respect from recovery are expecting and relying on me to stay clean and sober, I have to stay clean and sober”. It’s so much the case that studies show that social accountability is one of the primary benefits of attending a self-help group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Feeling like you have a group to be accountable for can help you to be more accountable to yourself.
Alumni events can often be pitched as parties, dinners, hikes, or other social events. At the same time, they give your counselors and therapists a point to touch base, to see how you’re doing, and to make sure your recovery is still going well. That can give you opportunities to ask for help if you’re struggling. It can also mean being recommended into support or additional treatment programs if your therapist thinks you’re struggling.
In either case, alumni programs mean someone else is keeping an eye on you and making sure you’re doing well. That can be immensely helpful, especially if you aren’t always mindful of your mental state yourself.
Many alumni events work to offer advice and to answer questions for people as they move through recovery. That can be from your peers or from the staff you graduated with. In either case, you’ll be able to interact with counselors and therapists and will likely actually have to fill out forms and take assessments, so you can get advice for your future mental health and recovery.
However, what you actually get from this will depend a lot on your rehab center and its offerings. Not every organization will treat an alumni event as a follow up treatment. However, many do, and many will allow you to use it to follow up on your program.
Getting social support and contact from people you went to rehab with can be powerful. It can also allow you to get social and emotional support that you can’t really get from anywhere else. For example, you know what happened with people during rehab, but what about after? Did they face the same challenges as you did? How did they cope with them? Who’s dealing well? Who isn’t? Getting to share, offer support to each other, and to understand how your experiences overlap (and differ) can give you better perspective on your recovery and how you’re doing at building your life out of rehab. That can mean:
Eventually, that social support can be extremely good for you feeling accepted, like you’re progressing, and like you’re doing well with your recovery. And, if you are struggling, it can mean an opportunity to touch base, see what others are doing, and get advice and help from the people facing similar problems. Of course, your ability to do this will almost always depend on the group you went to rehab with, what they are doing, and how well you got along.
Most alumni activities are built around creating a mix of social outing and mental health support. However, at their core, they’re fun things to do that don’t involve alcohol. That can mean dinners, dances, hiking, sports, or even city trips. Any of these activities can be extremely welcome and good for you if you’re still struggling to find sober things to do locally. Attending alumni events can also give you inspiration into what you like and what kinds of sober activities you can look for at home – especially if you don’t actually know where to start.
Alumni events can include a wide range of activities and events. However, in most cases they include:
Event availability normally depends on the rehab facility and how far away you are from the facility. For example, if you flew coast to coast, you probably won’t want to go back for a 3 hour event. But a weekend event may be worth your time.
Eventually, alumni events are designed to help you feel like you’re not alone and to help you get to see your progress after you graduate rehab. That can be extremely powerful and a very important part of your recovery. Your facility may also offer you advice and further recommendations for treatment or local social support depending on where you are in your recovery.
Rehab might feel like something you want to leave behind and forget, especially if you’re doing well in recovery. However, touching base with your peers in recovery, seeing how they are doing, and getting that ongoing social accountability will be good for you, and you should attend alumni events.
Asana Recovery is located in Orange County, California. and offers detox, residential, and outpatient addiction treatment services in our modern and comfortable addiction treatment facilities. Please contact us today to speak with one of our experienced addiction treatment team if you have any questions about our programs.