When someone has spent time in addiction treatment, it is quite natural for them to feel nervous about returning home after rehab. After weeks of facing challenges head-on and overcoming them under the guidance of medical professionals, leaning to go it alone in sobriety can be a big adjustment.
However, one of the most significant benefits of rehab is that it prepares individuals for life afterward and these new life skills are reinforced as part of a comprehensive aftercare treatment program.
What Is an Aftercare Treatment Program?
Addiction is similar to other chronic illnesses like diabetes in that treatment is ongoing for many years, often for life. It is important to remember that recovery is not a short process and that recovering addicts are in it for the long haul, otherwise, expectations can be difficult to manage.
Around 2.2 million people have a substance abuse disorder – and the rates of relapse are very high, ranging from 37% to 56%. However, research shows that these relapse rates are decreased when someone takes advantage of the aftercare alcohol and drug treatment services offered to them in rehab.
There are several types of aftercare treatment programs available to patients attending rehab including the following:
- Outpatient Care: This allows individuals to stay at home while attending a few treatment sessions each week at a time that is convenient for them.
- Group Counseling: This gives patients the opportunity to share with others their fears, concerns and also triumphs they experience after rehab, allowing them to work on social and coping skills in a group setting.
- Individual Therapy: Patients meet with therapists on a one-to-one basis to continue with the progress made while they were in rehab.
- Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) provide invaluable encouragement and support for people in recovery.
The duration of an aftercare program depends very much on the individual concerned and their specific needs in recovery. Clinicians actively involved in the treatment of patients in rehab will work with them to formulate the most effective aftercare alcohol and drug treatment plan that takes into account their personal circumstances and the respective stressors they face in their daily lives.
Adjusting to Life after Rehab
In the early days after leaving rehab, a patient’s aftercare alcohol and drug treatment plan are likely to have a bigger time commitment, which reduces as time passes as they become more self-sufficient in managing their illness. Because each patient is unique, they each face their own set of challenges in recovery and will have learned important coping skills in rehab that substance abuse and recovery aftercare reinforces once they’ve left the facility.
The transition from the intensive treatment environment of rehab to self-sufficiency in recovery is carefully monitored in an. Measurable goals are set in aftercare so as to allow patients to witness their own recovery or understand why they relapsed, which means that progress can be regained and maintained in response to real-time situations.
How is an After Care Program Devised?
Good quality rehab programs are personalized to the patient’s individual needs and goals and are based on an evaluation of their case immediately prior to leaving the facility. In the cases of court-ordered addiction treatment or employment drug and alcohol assistance programs aftercare is generally mandatory and very closely monitored.
The components that may be incorporated into a substance abuse and recovery aftercare program include:
- A strategy for relapse prevention based upon the individual circumstances of the patient. The techniques learned will be rehearsed before the patient leaves rehab, usually through role-play.
- Participation in an addiction support group to maintain open lines of communication and provide encouragement.
- Follow-up appointments with a clinician or counselor on an outpatient basis.
- If required, patients can be temporarily housed in a controlled-living environment such as sober living, particularly if returning home carries a high risk of relapse.
- All patients in aftercare are monitored and encouraged to check-in at various points to let their clinicians know how they are progressing in recovery.
Having the support and encouragement of a substance abuse and recovery aftercare program can make the difference between whether someone leaving rehab relapses or not. Recovery is neither an easy process nor a finite one and so it’s crucial that patients learn how to lean on others and themselves in order to maintain sobriety. Having access to clinicians, therapists and the support of others also in recovery, provides positive reinforcement for an individual’s hard work while in addiction treatment and for that reason, should never be underestimated.