Medical professionals and addiction specialists now recognize addiction as a chronic illness. And like individuals with diabetes and asthma, the goal of treatment is not to cure those with addiction but to stabilize their condition so that they can live full and productive lives while remaining sober.
What Is the Definition of Aftercare?
The likelihood of staying completely sober straight out of detox or rehab is remarkably slim. Research indicates that relapse after treatment is nearly 88%. This statistic while discouraging highlights the need for additional programs to treat addiction or substance use disorder.
Aftercare, also called “continuing care” is a term to describe programs and treatments that follow inpatient detox and rehabilitation. These programs aim to build on skills of earlier programs while helping their clients to transition to the next stage of treatment.
Aftercare programs may include:
- Psychotherapy and Counseling
- 12-Step Programs
- Partial Hospitalization Programs
- Standard Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
- Sober Living Houses
- Transitional Housing
Components of an Effective Aftercare Program
The best aftercare programs work closely with individuals while considering their past experiences and goals for the future.
With this information and often with the inclusion of the person in treatment, a comprehensive treatment plan is made. Treatment plans highlight specific areas for improvement and inform decisions about where a person is in their treatment and the degree of progress they are making.
Since the object is to lead individuals down a stable path of recovery, decisions hinge on evaluating progress. Individuals, for example, who are regularly failing drug tests or who aren’t engaging with their treatment, may have their treatment increased in intensity. On the other hand, those who have shown to be adjusting well may be deemed ready to step down to a program that requires greater responsibility.
To summarize, aftercare plays a foundational part of the recovery process by:
- Helping individuals to transition or “step down” to lower levels of treatment
- Encouraging and maintaining healthy social support networks
- Keeping individuals engaged in their treatment
- Preventing relapse or reducing the frequency of a relapse.
- Helping those in recovery secure housing and employment
- Building healthy habits and behaviors
Does Aftercare Require 12-Step Participation?
Commonly found in aftercare programs, 12-step is a spiritual path to sobriety. Features of the 12-step approach involve a reliance on a higher power to build the strength and conviction to stay sober; it also encourages prayer.
But in a secular age where an increasing number of Americans are undecided, A-religious, or atheistic about religion, alternatives are certainly in demand. According to a Gallop poll in 2018, 13% of Americans do not believe in God. So, what options exist for nonreligious people in recovery?
- Mindfulness training
- Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) Recovery
- Rational Recovery
- Women For Sobriety
- Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)
Non-religious programs and counseling differ fundamentally in terms of the role of the individual in treatment. While12-step plans propose relinquishing control to God, secular programs highlight an internal source for motivation and self-control. Rather than a subtle difference, this distinction can mean a world of difference from person to person.
For those who are more interested in effectiveness, secular programs have shown to be equally effective at treating substance abuse as non-secular ones.
Finding A Community
During treatment, individuals are encouraged to form close relationships with their peers. When healthy, the friendships made in treatment provide people with acceptance and support. More than that, peers in your recovery network share similar experiences and have similar goals. They are also more likely to hold you accountable.
As previously mentioned, recovery is a life-long process. Maintaining a presence in the recovery community is critical to keeping a sober perspective. And this is much easier when you are in an aftercare program or counseling group.
In addition to your peer network, these facilities provide regular access to specialists, counselors, sponsors, and community resources. These places should also be thought of as a refuge in dark times.
Preventing Relapse with the Help of Aftercare
Relapse can occur suddenly, but with tools and coping strategies on hand, it can thankfully be avoided. While inpatient programs cover relapse management skills, the reasons for relapse are largely contingent on an individual’s personal experience. This includes factors such as:
- Stress and Negative Emotions
- Memories of Unpleasant Experiences
- Toxic Relationships
- Sights and Smells that Connect Back to Patterns of Use
Combatting relapse in aftercare means developing and rehearsing a relapse prevention plan. These plans are designed by an addiction specialist with the help of the client as they work together to marry experience with evidence-based strategy.
Preventing relapse means being prepared. Many leaving inpatient treatment fare better when placed in a program designed to help them transition back into independent living.
Programs such as recovery houses, halfway homes, PHP’sand intensive outpatient programs (IOP’s) are designed help to bridge the gap between inpatient rehab and total independence.
Abusing Drugs? Get Help Today
Are you or a loved one struggling to break free from substance abuse? Valley Detox Centers is a LA-based addiction treatment center operating in San Fernando Valley. For more information, call us +1 (884) 402-3505.