Completing a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program is a big step. But it doesn’t mean you’ve reached the end of the road to recovery. Detoxification simply is not enough. Detox primarily addresses the physiological components of addiction and withdrawal, leaving the psychological areas to be worked on in treatment and beyond. Individuals who have completed a rehabilitation program but fail to seek out aftercare programs have a much higher chance of relapse. Research shows that individuals who have come through inpatient rehab programs and have initiated aftercare treatment are more likely to remain abstinent. Unfortunately, only about half of the patients who complete an inpatient program actually follow through with aftercare treatment. Aftercare is vital for a number of reasons including:
#1 Relapse Prevention
Because of the chronic nature of the disease of addiction, people in recovery have a high risk of falling back into substance abuse even after treatment. Like other chronic diseases, the relapse rate for addiction hovers around 40 to 60%. Relapse prevention plans can help people recognize their triggers, cope with cravings and can think through what a relapse could look like. The professionals who provide aftercare support can also assist an individual who has “slipped” to pick back up where they left off so they don’t have to go back to square one.
#2 Help for Families
Aftercare programs provide help for individuals as well as their families, because individuals are not the only people impacted by addiction. Programs are available to help resolve any residual issues that are left over as a result of drug or alcohol use. Aftercare can also help to coach the families on how to assist the individual in getting back to a normal life.
#3 A Place to Talk
As recovering addicts get back into their routines and lives, they will face obstacles. Aftercare programs offer a place for the individual to talk through their struggles while they learn new habits. Counselors can also help recovering addicts find and maintain employment and build stronger relationships. Aftercare programs are vital for those who have completed inpatient rehab. Individuals are more likely to respond positively to treatment with ongoing support that is designed to help them ease back into life. Resources National Institutes of Health: Continuing Care Research: What We’ve Learned and Where We Are Going: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2670779/ National Institutes of Health: Self-Help Program Components and Linkage to Aftercare Following Inpatient Detoxification: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2770002/