While some look at attending an addiction treatment center as an end all be all, addiction recovery is a lifelong commitment. Graduating or completing a treatment program is of course a monumental achievement and something to be proud of, but it is not the only thing that needs to be done to ensure long term sobriety.
Since relapse can unfortunately happen all too easily once one enters back into day to day life, it is important that a person returning from a treatment program be set up to succeed in recovery. In fact, the highest risk of relapse tends to fall into the window of 30-90 days after being discharged from a treatment program, so this time especially is critical for the individual to remain vigilant in their recovery.
This is where aftercare comes into play for the individual to have the absolute best chance at succeeding in long term sobriety. Aftercare can become the make or break point for some on whether they relapse or not. As stated previously, recovery is a lifelong commitment, and it needs to be consistently kept up with and monitored, so that it is maintained. Aftercare can assist the individual to do this, and to bolster their sobriety for the long haul.
Aftercare can include a great many things, but the fundamental basis of it is literally continued care or treatment once discharged from an inpatient treatment center. When a person is released from a treatment center, there are many things in day to day life that may affect them or stress them out enough to relapse. Since a treatment center is an extremely stable and safe environment, where they are on a day to day schedule in a drug free environment that is conducive to their sobriety, sometimes the adjustment period back into normal life can be too much for them to handle. When an individual is discharged, they typically go back in the same environment, which includes the groups of people, places, and triggers that were contributive to their drug or alcohol use. Ergo, it is important for them to know how to handle these things, and get continuing support and care to navigate through them.
The environment they return to tends to be quite opposite of their treatment environment, but they must navigate through this to get a job, go to school, or other endeavors to build themselves back into a productive member of society. Since addiction recovery is not simply being clean, but rather repairing or building a new life without drugs or alcohol, aftercare can help immensely to this end.
As stated previously, aftercare can encompass a great many things. Below are some of the different things that can be included as part of an aftercare program:
Outpatient - When an individual is discharged from an inpatient treatment center, it can be very beneficial for them to attend an outpatient type of treatment afterward. Outpatient could include continuing counseling or therapy so that they can continue to handle things as they come up in their life, as well as address more deep seated issues over time. It can help the individual to continue using their coping tools, as well as obtain new ones. They can work with the outpatient clinic to continue to find ways to best handle their triggers.
Sober Housing or Halfway House - Some individuals end up transitioning into living in a sober house, which can be extremely beneficial. These living facilities generally have enforced rules, chores, or job or school requirements while the individual is residing there, which helps to instill responsibility, and integrate them gradually back into being a productive member of society.
Meetings - Meetings may be included as a part of an individual's aftercare. They may end up attending regularly scheduled meetings with groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). These can be a great way to build and maintain a recovery network of likeminded people as well.
Follow up Calls or Appointments - In facilities that provide aftercare as part of the program, there will often be a staff member assigned to them for aftercare when they are discharged from inpatient treatment. This staff member will continue to follow up with the person whether it be by phone or scheduled meeting to receive updates on their progress outside of treatment. This way the staff member can stay apprised of what is happening in the person’s life and help to handle any issues that arise.
Aftercare programs can have widely varying requirements. While some allow the individual to begin freshly out of inpatient treatment, others require the individual’s sobriety to have continued for a certain amount of time. Aftercare is sometimes integrated as part of an inpatient treatment center’s program, so that the person can transition right into it. Aftercare programs can also have quite wide variations of length. While some may only last a couple weeks post inpatient treatment, others may continue for a year or maybe even a lifetime to ensure continued recovery.
Aftercare can almost be considered a vital necessity to any addiction treatment plan. It helps the individual to continue along the right path, as well as have a resource to reach to when difficulties occur. With the amount of relapses that occur soon after being discharged from inpatient treatment, aftercare could be the missing component of many individual’s programs. Guidance is important for the person as they work to revamp and reorganize their life without drugs or alcohol.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, be sure to pick a treatment program carefully. Every individual is unique in their struggle with addiction, and needs a program that will be tailored to address their particular needs. We know it can be difficult to find the right treatment center sometimes, but we are able to expedite that process. Using our knowledge and experience of the treatment centers across the nation, we can help to find you or your loved one the private inpatient treatment center that meets your criteria, as well as includes a sound aftercare program.