The Importance of Aftercare When Leaving Addiction Treatment

While many people think of addiction recovery as a short 30- or 90-day stint in treatment, true recovery extends for years after the final drug dose or drink. Addiction is a mental health disorder that affects the structure of the brain and recovering from it will not happen overnight. Individuals require continuous care and support if they are to successfully remain clean and sober, which is often provided through self-help groups, sober homes and specific programs intended to provide aftercare.

Continue reading for the many ways you or a loved-one can receive aftercare upon exiting treatment, and share this article if you find it helpful.

Different Types of Aftercare

Addiction recovery supportAftercare is important for a number of reasons, the most pressing of which is that many individuals relapse after leaving either outpatient or intensive inpatient rehabilitation programs. Following a good aftercare program can make the difference between relapse and having the time and space to develop good coping mechanisms after leaving treatment. The National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that relapse rates are between 40 and 60 percent, making this kind of aftercare even more important.

There are many different types of aftercare, ranging from live-in treatment solutions to 12-Step groups and other group support programs. Many of them can offer positive benefits, and in some cases, recovering individuals may want to utilize several types together.

Sober Homes – Sober homes or halfway homes are a common and popular form of aftercare, giving individuals the option to transition into assisted living rather than directly moving back into their home or old life. This can be especially important for individuals with stressful jobs and lives, those who don’t have a home and those who need time to readjust after a long time away from everyday life. Sober homes typically involve group living with daily or weekly counseling sessions, some form of support, accountability, and set or structured hours. For example, an individual living in a sober home will be expected home after work, will be expected to attend a certain number of meetings, and will have to attend therapy and training. Residents also eat as a group, discuss progress in a group setting, and will likely participate in 12-Step or other group self-help programming during their stay.

Sober Coach – The patient returns to their own home but is accompanied by a sober coach, who provides accountability, works with them to prevent relapse, and offers assistance and training when needed.

Outpatient Treatment – The person in recovery continues to receive treatment on an outpatient basis after returning to their home. This will typically include sessions one to more times per week, taken at the patient’s convenience. This may include or not include individual therapy.

Foundations Memphis is a group-oriented outpatient program that offers staff and peer support, psychiatric evaluation and assessment, medication management, group therapy and life skills classes integrated with 12-Step principles. Click here to learn more.

Group Counseling or Self-Help – Patients attend group counseling or a program such as a 12-Step group to receive support, accountability and assistance.

Checkups – In some cases, a treatment center will schedule outpatient follow-up appointments with patients, either at their facility or at a hospital or clinic. While not all treatment centers use this type of aftercare, many do, especially when they offer an aftercare program as part of treatment.

In some cases, aftercare will be prescribed by your doctor, rehabilitation clinic or by a court. In most cases, going into an aftercare program is completely voluntary if you chose to go into treatment on your own or with the help of your loved ones.

Why Seek Out Aftercare?

While aftercare is often optional, it can be extremely important for ensuring your continued success with recovery. And the type of aftercare you choose is also important.

Readjustment – Many individuals leave their life and home to spend 90 days or longer in an inpatient residential treatment center. There, those individuals are treated for substance dependence in an environment completely removed from the one where they used or drank, giving them the space to focus on recovery and what they are learning. However, this can be dangerous when individuals in recovery return to back everyday life, because they haven’t yet had the opportunity to test newly learned coping mechanisms and skills in a stressful environment.

Persons who struggle with stress due to a job, family environment, economic instability or other factors can greatly benefit from moving into a sober home first, so that they can adjust to at least part of the stress of everyday life without stressing their recovery. Having a buffer period between residential treatment and going back to life is extremely important, because it gives individuals the opportunity to re-adjust to life, working and possibly looking for work while still receiving the support and care needed to manage that stress.

Accountability – Relapse rates are highest in the first few months after leaving treatment, and having accountability – people whom they are responsible to for staying clean or sober – will help to prevent that. Having to go home at a set time, tell others that you haven’t used or drank anything and participating in groups will help to build that accountability. Accountability is one of the primary reasons self-help groups like AA actually work, and you will get it as part of nearly any aftercare program.

Monitoring – Most aftercare programs include some level of monitoring, including regular drug and alcohol tests to ensure that individuals are sticking to their program. Monitoring programs also include follow-ups with clinicians and counselors to ensure that individuals are on the right track mentally as well as physically.

Medical – In some cases, individuals with opioid addictions are prescribed a maintenance program of Suboxone or methadone after they complete an opioid detox program. In this case, the maintenance program will be part of aftercare and should include regular visits to a doctor or clinician along with clinical evaluations and drug tests to prevent abuse.

Social Support – While accountability is important, receiving social support from counselors, clinicians, sober buddies, friends and sponsors can also be helpful. Many people leave addiction feeling isolated, ashamed of their behavior and afraid to make friends because they don’t want to talk about their history of drug or alcohol use. Receiving social support from individuals who are either in recovery themselves or who are aiding in that recovery can prevent social isolation by giving individuals someone to talk to, relate to and to share with in a nonjudgmental environment.

While some people can move directly from inpatient treatment and back into their everyday lives, many others need additional support while transitioning. This support often comes in the form of sober homes or sober coaches, who can provide a middle ground between the isolation of a treatment facility and the often hectic and stressful demands of everyday life. This can help you or your loved one to adapt to living in their normal life without substances, so that they don’t return to old habits.

Taking the time to ensure that you have the support, accountability and structure to avoid a relapse when leaving rehab can be a crucial step in your recovery. In most cases, you can seek out options for aftercare through your treatment facility. While stays in residential treatment programs often run anywhere from 30 to 90 days, some forms of aftercare, such as group support and therapy, can and should extend for years, because addiction recovery is an ongoing process that lasts a lifetime.

Don’t wait to consider your aftercare options. Foundations Memphis’ outpatient treatment has many group therapies and treatments for people with busy schedules, who are seeking accountability. Call The Oaks and La Paloma or Foundations Memphis today for a free assessment and information.

Written by Beginnings Treatment Centers, a Southern California Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program.

Articles posted here are primarily educational and may not directly reflect the offerings at The Oaks. For more specific information on programs at The Oaks, contact us today.