The Importance of Aftercare
Making it through drug rehab treatment is a major accomplishment. Nevertheless, despite hard-won gains, there is still more ground to be conquered even after completing the program. It really doesn’t matter if the person in recovery has been using one or several substances, whether or not alcohol was involved or even if their addiction was more under the heading of disordered behaviors, everyone who is working toward recovery from addiction benefits from a transitional period between completing rehab and re-entering life. Aftercare is designed to provide that transition which helps clients to bridge what came before and what lies ahead.
Aftercare provides a continuation of counseling and support once the drug rehab program has been successfully completed. Many aftercare programs insist that clients be sober for a period of time before entering into aftercare services, but other aftercare programs may be extensions of in-patient drug rehab programs. The important point is that there is an ongoing recovery process that takes places in a person’s life. Certainly there are benchmarks, but the client must avoid the idea that he/she has been totally cured as a result of completing drug rehab treatment. Aftercare provides services which will make transitioning into a new life with new habits and new ways of thinking more successful with less risk of relapse. This is particularly true for the person who has completed a residential drug rehab program where every hour of the day has been scheduled and devoted to recovery. Real-life will bring pressures and responsibilities and even temptations which must be faced.
Maintaining a dependable support system where understanding and encouragement are assured is invaluable for at least the first six months and up to a year following rehab. For some clients, aftercare may be part of a lifelong health plan. Aftercare services may include individual counseling, group meetings, ongoing addiction education, social activities and even occasional recreational outings. These services may be offered in male-only, female-only, and teen-only formats to provide the strongest support. Some aftercare programs specialize even further according to addiction (drugs, alcohol, disordered behaviors). Aftercare is available in a variety of formats. Sometimes, residential drug rehab facilities will offer aftercare immediately following treatment. The aftercare may be short-term or available as long as the client needs.
Some of these aftercare programs include alumni who share success stories and even sponsor alumni group meetings or special events. Sober living homes are another type of aftercare. These are clean and sober environments where those who have completed drug rehab may choose to live but which do not offer treatment or therapy groups. Persons living in sober homes share responsibilities among themselves as they prepare to transition back into a life of full responsibility.
Outpatient aftercare is the most common. This type of aftercare offers regular support while the person is re-entering daily life. Outpatient aftercare usually provides opportunities to concentrate on skills to prevent relapse, help with relational skills, tools for managing stress, anxiety and/or anger, understanding the dynamics of family, recognizing and addressing personal triggers, dealing with temptations and sometimes, random drug/alcohol testing. Aftercare is a key component in living a successful life of recovery and sobriety. It is the bridge which helps clients keep hold of the things they’ve learned and gained as they embark upon a new way of living.
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