You’ve admitted that you have an addiction and have successfully completed a treatment program; however, the journey to a life free from addiction and its consequences doesn’t stop there. Most people who have completed a treatment program also require an addiction aftercare program to ensure the long-term success of treatment.
Studies have shown that the factors most often contributing to relapse are:
- The inability to adequately manage stress or negative emotions
- Ignoring the recommendations of doctors and counselors
- Interpersonal conflicts with family, friends or business associates
- A low motivation for making a change
- Chronic negative thinking
Once a treatment program is completed, ongoing support for an extended period of time is required for optimal results. This phase of recovery is known as aftercare and generally involves a formal, structured program. Aftercare following detox and treatment has been shown to improve the chances of success significantly while reducing occurrence of relapse.
Increasing the Odds for Success
An aftercare program is specially designed to offer support and counseling on an ongoing basis following treatment for addiction. Clients have usually completed an inpatient or outpatient program, but generally, the more treatment and support the newly-sober person receives, the better their chances for remaining sober.
Aftercare services typically include both clinical and social support. In addition to therapeutic services, there can be referrals to outside agencies and resources as well as 12-step meetings, monitoring of medications, one-on-one therapy, group therapy, family therapy and sober living resources.
Recovering persons benefit greatly from the care and embrace of loved ones during this transitional time. Support may take the form of their biological family, close friends, a new “family” of recovering people, or some combination of all of these.
Aftercare can help newly sober persons to:
- Identify triggers. People in recovery must learn what forces, dynamics and triggers in their life led to a reliance on using substances. Individual counseling as well as group therapy in a comprehensive aftercare program can help to clearly identify triggers.
- Find new coping strategies. If the triggers can be avoided, this is ideal; however, if a trigger is more difficult to avoid, such as work or key relationships, new coping strategies must be developed. For example, if the trigger is a specific family member, new skills for developing boundaries and assertiveness may need to be worked on.
- Develop supportive relationships. Loving, supportive people are key to the success of any aftercare program. Support in the form of family and friends as well as therapists and group members provide both nurturing and accountability.
- Manage stress levels. Keeping stress levels manageable at both work and in one’s personal life is crucial, and an aftercare program can help with developing stress management strategies. Activities such as exercise, meditation and/or a spiritual practice can be invaluable.
- Create new habits and patterns. In some cases, a whole new structure to one’s life must be created, including key relationships, activities and a schedule that no longer revolves around the addictive substance. This can take time, but a solid aftercare program can be pivotal and foundational in creating a new lifestyle that is no longer ruled by addiction.
Recovery centers, peer coaching, mentoring as well as skill-training and educational services can also play a pivotal role in helping a recovering person to rebuild a life. An aftercare program can assist in all of these areas, assisting in avoiding relapse and sustaining long-term recovery.