The Importance of Aftercare Programs for Recovering Addicts

by | Jan 15, 2020 | Recovery Treatment Services

aftercare programsIf you or someone you know has a problem with addiction, treatment is vital for recovery. Another important part of the recovery process includes aftercare programs.

A New York University report states that 37% to 56% of patients relapse in the first year after treatment. Participating in an aftercare program helps prevent relapses. Yet, only about half of patients start aftercare, and even fewer stay with it.

Continue reading to learn how aftercare can contribute to lifelong sobriety.


What Is Sobriety?

The Betty Ford Institute provides a definition of addiction recovery. It’s “a voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, personal health, and citizenship.”

The term sobriety means abstinence from the addictive substance. Sobriety is key to attaining a healthy lifestyle.

Sobriety has 3 phases. Early sobriety means one to 11 months of abstinence. Sustained sobriety lasts for one to five years.

Stable sobriety describes abstinence that lasts for five years or more.

Research Supporting Aftercare Programs

For years, researchers have examined the impact of addiction aftercare programs. A 2006 study published in Current Psychiatry Reports described the following findings.

  • Patients who received ongoing care for a year or longer showed significant positive effects
  • Treatments plans that pose less of a burden on the patient promotes higher and more sustained engagement
  • Care involving a more structured and intensive program may offer more benefits for those with severe addictions
  • Strict programs seem more effective for those who didn’t achieve progress during treatment

Some patients benefit more when taking adjunctive medication treatment during aftercare.

Is Aftercare Treatment Really Necessary?

Addiction treatment must not end with discharge from a residential facility. Aftercare provides ongoing follow-up and accountability to help prevent regression. When a person begins to fall into old behaviors, they often relapse.

It’s often difficult for someone to take months off for addiction treatment. Today, some facilities have begun to offer virtual intensive outpatient services.

This can help individuals achieve recovery before they return to work or school. It also allows for aftercare to provide support as they meet life’s daily challenges.

Aftercare Plan for Substance Abuse

Most people are not sure what’s involved in an after programs. Often, programs are available in your community. They may include a peer support group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

The program will create an individual plan to meet your unique needs. The first step may involve living in a sober community. This allows you to practice and hone your coping skills and strategies.

Other components of the plan may include:

  • Help to find employment via vocational rehab
  • Legal guidance
  • Educational guidance
  • Help to find a safe living situation
  • Continuous check-ins to verify mental or physical health
  • Focused relapse prevention programs
  • Support to develop healthy relationships
  • Help to find healthy and tailored activities and hobbies

Aftercare programs come from many sources. These program resources include health professionals, faith-based groups, schools, and peer recovery.

Types of Aftercare Programs

When you reach the end of your treatment program, it’s important to find the right aftercare program for you. Studies have shown that this increases your chances of long-term sobriety.

With outpatient aftercare treatment, the person lives at home. They go to treatment one to three times a week.

Group counseling allows members to hear and share experiences in a peer group. This safe setting allows the person to celebrate achievements and learn from mistakes. It also helps to build a positive social network.

During individual therapy, the patient meets one-on-one with a therapist. They discuss how the individual is progressing. This is also a time for working on problem areas.

Both individual and group therapy help build upon the lessons learned in treatment. They practice coping skills and strategies during daily encounters and then receive feedback.

Some individuals choose to take part in a 12-step program. Examples include Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. These programs include a group of peers who provide support and encouragement to remain sober.

Healthcare providers prescribe various lengths of aftercare depending on the patient’s needs. Adhering to your provider’s recommendations improves your recovery. Attend all follow-up appointments as scheduled.

Common Reasons for Failing in Aftercare Programs

Researchers have explored the reasons that patients don’t follow-through with aftercare. One male said that he didn’t feel comfortable opening up and expressing his feelings. He also stated that he knows he needs more structure.

This individual said that when he “sits around all day” he knows “that’s when it will come and bite me again”. Other subjects said that their failure to attend aftercare appointments or meetings caused them to have problems.

Some stated that other responsibilities made it hard to attend on a regular basis. One female said she was taking a college course which caused her to miss meetings. Others said they didn’t feel much support after starting aftercare and so they quit.

Successful respondents credited personal motivation as the key to success in aftercare. They felt that those who dropped out lacked this important factor.

Are You Looking Addiction or Mental Health Treatment?

Are you having problems with addiction or your mental health? If so, it’s important to get help now. Studies demonstrate that individuals have more successful recovery when they participate in treatment.

Once you complete the initial phase of treatment, it’s vital to begin the aftercare programs of your choice. Sober Life Treatment Center San Diego is ready to meet your needs.

This isn’t the usual type of treatment facility. Sober Life has created a community filled with our staff and alumni. Together we provide an integrated setting to facilitate your recovery.

Do you dream of being free from your addictive substance? Do you want to feel confident again? We know from personal experience that you can escape the stronghold of addiction.

Contact us today to learn more about our programs.

You might also like:

Ready to Make a Change?

We help people beat addiction by changing the way they see it.
Discover why our innovative approach was featured on FOX News

Share This