Addiction aftercare programs are a form of continuing care for people recovering from drug or alcohol abuse disorders. Most people begin these programs after completing an intensive rehab program. It is vital recovering addicts understand that recovery is a process and not a single event. Therefore, aftercare programs are a necessary part of long-term success in sobriety.
What is the Goal of Addiction Aftercare?
It is common for people to assume that completing drug rehab cures addiction. However, addiction is a chronic disease that requires ongoing management to control triggers and temptations. Aftercare programs and resources are designed to provide management skills, resources, and tools for recovering addicts to reduce the risk of relapse and encourage the use of positive coping strategies for years to come.
What is Relapse?
In the context of drug treatment, relapse describes a return to problematic drug or alcohol use following a prolonged period of abstinence Most people associate relapse with being the actual act of returning to substance use. However, it is actually a series of events that occur in a series of progressive stages, including emotional relapse, mental relapse, and physical relapse. Common signs of emotional relapse include sadness, anger, frustration, and social isolation. Common signs of mental relapse include thinking about and craving drugs or alcohol.
Statistics show that the relapse rates for addiction are similar to those of other chronic illnesses, such as type I diabetes, asthma, and hypertension.
Relapse Prevention Strategies
Throughout rehab treatments, counseling and therapy focuses strongly on helping each person identify and recognize their own individual addiction triggers. They are also taught various strategies in order to help them cope with urges and cravings in healthy, positive ways that reduce the risk of relapse.
During rehab, it is also likely the recovering person was taught to use a range of alternative therapies that focus on finding natural ways to cope with symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression that are commonly associated with the recovery process. Yet, a large part of the recovery process includes having access to plenty of ongoing support, such as various support groups likeAlcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous(NA).
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The Importance of Aftercare following Drug Rehab
Recovery does not end when a person is discharged from rehab. Rather, the person leaves with a list of contacts, tools, and resources needed to continue the recovery process while living independently. Without a strong aftercare strategy, the risk of returning to the self-destructive pattern of addiction is dramatically increased.
No person being discharged from rehab has the exact same aftercare plan. Addiction specialist teams collaborate closely with each patient to create a structured continuing care plan that is customized to suit their individual needs.
Types of Aftercare Programs
In an effort to ensure every rehab graduate has the best possible chance of making a successful recovery over the long term, the number of aftercare services available is extensive.
Sober living: There are people who may not benefit from returning to a home environment, as it may be strongly associated with substance abuse. Instead, these people may benefit from residing in sober living facilities that minimize exposure to people and places linked to drug or alcohol use. Sober living homes or halfway houses are designed to teach recovering addicts positive new ways for living a clean and sober lifestyle, while also learning to take personal responsibility while living independently.
Individual therapy: Ongoing counseling sessions are also strongly advised throughout the recovery process, as it is important the person continues on a path to self-discovery and corrects dysfunctional behaviors.
Alternative treatment: If alternative therapies were helpful for controlling feelings of stress or anxiety, addicts are strongly encouraged to continue staying involved with them throughout the aftercare stage. Exercise, creative expression, healthy eating and self-care are all important aspects of the recovery process for improving self-esteem and confidence.
Employment training: Aftercare programs can also assist with job skills training and education, as many recovering addicts may have financial issues to consider. Improving employment prospects can be a big motivator for remaining sober.
Support group meetings: Regular attendance at group support meetings and 12-step groupsis also strongly encouraged. Group meetings provide important levels of support and social interaction.