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Be Empowered: Integrating a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) into Discharge Planning

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Moving from addiction treatment into long-term sobriety can be challenging. Returning to normal life and learning to navigate things in new ways can lead to difficult situations and temptations. It’s crucial to plan carefully and have effective strategies in place. One helpful piece of this process is creating a Wellness Recovery Action Plan, or WRAP.

What Is a Wellness Recovery Action Plan?

In 1997, a group of individuals living with serious mental illness gathered in Vermont to discuss ways to manage their lives and sustain long-term wellness. It was at this groundbreaking eight-day event that the group developed the concept of WRAP.

One of the attendees, Mary Ellen Copeland, had done research that revealed five key areas of recovery: personal responsibility, hope, support, education, and self-advocacy. Based on this research and the personal experiences of other attendees, the group was able to list ideas for promoting wellness and preventing breakdowns. From this, they concluded that unique individuals can find success by organizing their own set of strategies that work for them. This concept would eventually become the Wellness Recovery Action Plan.

A Wellness Recovery Action Plan is a self-created, self-directed wellness toolbox that details ways to manage certain areas of life.

A person’s WRAP can include things like:

  • Lists of activities that boost their mental health
  • Coping skills
  • Triggers and early warning signs
  • A crisis plan (and post-crisis plan) for situations where they may need a supporter to help them take appropriate action

As a designated evidence-based practice, WRAP has shown significant improvement in reported symptoms and wellness factors after just 8-12 weeks of group-facilitated use.¹ Though a group setting is especially effective, it can be used independently by individuals. WRAP is also designed to be accessible to all, with no starting requirements.

What Is Discharge Planning?

In addiction recovery, discharge planning refers to preparing for the end of residential care and the return to regular life. This minimizes unknowns and makes the transition easier for everyone.

Things that are commonly considered during discharge planning include:

  • Housing (including sober living facilities)
  • Employment
  • Recovery goals
  • Social supports
  • Any necessary medical or mental health care
  • Support groups and other aftercare resources

The Role of a Wellness Recovery Action Plan in Discharge Planning

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WRAP is a helpful piece of discharge planning that ensures a person has tools for managing their mental health outside of rehab. Working on a personal WRAP encourages individuals to think about what matters most and find concrete ways to support wellness in their daily lives. Having a list of warning signs and triggers can also help them avoid situations with a high risk of relapse.

Whether WRAP is used individually or facilitated in a peer support group, the positive effects are extremely valuable to supporting mental health and sobriety. Simply having a plan in place can promote hope and reduce anxiety about returning to regular life.

Make a Plan for Lasting Success at Del Arroyo Recovery Center

At Del Arroyo Recovery Center in Southern California, we are as dedicated to long-term sobriety and relapse prevention as we are to providing treatment. When you reach the end of your program with us, we’ll help you develop your own tailored WRAP plan to help you transition into the new life you envision.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you create a brighter future.


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