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Importance of Aftercare

Oct 30, 2023

An inpatient substance use treatment program can be an effective way to start living a sober life, but what you choose to do next is equally critical. People who finish a program and return to their daily lives with no structured ongoing support are more likely to face unresolved issues and experience a lack of accountability, leading to relapse. In this blog post, learn the importance of aftercare and how ongoing support and services of an aftercare plan can help your recovery process.

Aftercare for those with addiction refers to the ongoing support, treatment, and services that individuals receive after completing an initial phase of addiction treatment, such as outpatient treatment, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), or sober living houses. Planning for aftercare should ideally start as early as possible in the substance use treatment process. The importance of aftercare is tied to reducing the risk of relapse through accountability, peer support, learning and practicing strategies to manage cravings, and more. Aftercare planning is fundamental to every treatment program offered at Hanley Center for men and women aged 18 and older.

If you or a loved one need help, call our admissions team today at 561-841-1033.

What Is Aftercare?

When someone completes a structured and intensive phase of addiction treatment, such as inpatient or residential rehab, aftercare refers to the continuous support and assistance they get. The basic objective of aftercare is to give people the tools, resources, and encouragement needed to sustain their recovery and avoid relapse while they adjust back to their everyday life. Aftercare planning should be customized to meet the specific requirements and circumstances of each person and can be developed from a variety of resources within the field of treatment.

Importance of Following Treatment Plan

An individual with a history of addiction who tries to maintain sobriety without any kind of ongoing care or assistance may run a relatively high risk of relapsing. It can be difficult to give precise numbers or percentages, but several factors enhance the likelihood of relapse in the absence of continued care.

Chronic Nature of Addiction: With a significant chance of relapse, addiction is regarded as a chronic disease. Without ongoing care and support, you may find it difficult to maintain your recovery over time.

Withdrawal and Cravings: Early sobriety is frequently accompanied by withdrawal symptoms and strong cravings for the substance of abuse. These mental and physical difficulties might be hard to handle without support and coping strategies.

High-Risk Situations: Risky circumstances may heighten the desire to resume drug use or drinking. Relapse can be tied to stress, boredom, interactions with others, and exposure to the substance itself.

Lack of Accountability: Lack of accountability measures, such as routine drug testing, check-ins with a therapist, or participation in a support group, can make it simpler for people to justify resuming their substance use unchecked.

Other factors contributing to potential relapse include social isolation, limited coping skills, and changes in life circumstances. These changes may involve significant life events, both positive and negative ones. If you have a co-occurring mental health disorder left untreated, its symptoms can also increase the risk of relapse.

How Soon Can You Plan for Aftercare?

Planning for aftercare should ideally start as early as possible in the substance use treatment process. At Hanley Center, aftercare planning is a staple of each person’s comprehensive treatment program. Your treatment team can help you set goals and expectations for how aftercare serves you, including the level of care and support needed, creating support networks involving family and friends, and the necessary research to find appropriate aftercare resources. Making a relapse prevention plan is a part of the planning process for aftercare. This plan identifies potential high-risk scenarios and coping strategies to use when feeling cravings.

Three Primary Follow-up Options

The importance of aftercare relates to the smooth transition it provides from the initial treatment program to aftercare services without a gap of days, weeks, or months between them.

Outpatient Treatment

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) are usually weeks long programs where participants attend several days each week and include group and individual therapy. Patients and their families can continue their daily lives with an IOP while addressing the same concerns as in residential treatment. It is ideally suited for people who do not require inpatient treatment or are returning home after a residential treatment stay.

The structure of outpatient treatment can be especially helpful in the early phases of recovery when it can be difficult to develop a routine. You have the opportunity to connect with peers who have experienced similar things in group therapy sessions and support groups. These relationships foster a sense of belonging and lessen loneliness. Also, you are encouraged to practice the techniques and methods from treatment in your daily life and gain confidence in their value. In addition, a sense of accountability is created through regular attendance and engagement in outpatient therapy sessions.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

PHPs are intended for those who need intensive assistance and therapy for substance use disorders but do not require the kind of round-the-clock medical monitoring and care offered by residential treatment programs. PHPs frequently follow a regular daily schedule, which may include a full day of therapy, educational sessions, and group activities. Individual counseling, group therapy, family therapy, and specialist therapy methods (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, or trauma-focused therapy) are all available to people in PHPs. If you have any physical or medical problems resulting from addiction, withdrawal, or co-occurring medical illnesses, medical specialists at a PHP can monitor and manage them. Family therapy sessions may be available to address family dynamics, enhance communication, and bolster the support system at home and among loved ones.

Sober Living

People recovering from addiction may find sober living homes to be a vital resource in preventing relapse. These supportive living environments provide a controlled and accountable setting that promotes sobriety and personal development. Residents are able to forge deep relationships, exchange stories, and support one another as they work through their recovery. Some sober living facilities even include instruction and training on relapse prevention. If a resident relapses, the staff at the house and other residents are available to offer immediate support, assist the person in getting back on track, and minimize the risk of further substance use.

Importance of Connecting with a Sober Community and Alumni

An alumni group or sober community can give you a sense of community and connection with people who have gone through similar struggles. It provides a secure setting where you can openly express feelings, challenges, and experiences. Accountability is also encouraged within the recovery community. In addition, alumni who have successfully sustained sobriety can act as inspiration and role models, and you can learn from other’s experiences and learn how to form realistic expectations of what a life of sobriety might look like for you. Sustaining your sobriety will look different at different times in your recovery journey, but it all demonstrates the importance of aftercare as you get started.

Hanley Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for mental illnesses and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting wellness. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1033.

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