Aftercare Exit Plan

What is Learned in Treatment?

Once a detox is complete, rehabilitation treatment addresses the psychological, social, and behavioral aspects of addiction. Treatment can take on a number of forms to cater to the individual’s needs, such as the level of treatment needed and financial factors.

Patients may seek out residential programs, outpatient rehabilitation programs, group therapy, and/or individual therapy. Many programs involve participation in group programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. A good treatment program will also provide basic education on how addiction affects physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing.

Group therapy is often a central part of rehab treatment programs. The group setting provides an opportunity for social support in sobriety. Individual therapy can be a difficult facet of rehabilitation treatment as individuals process challenging emotions like drug cravings and underlying issues such as family dynamics, relationship skills, or self-esteem. Many in recovery have co-occurring, or dual, disorders–such as an anxiety disorder as well a substance abuse disorder. These individuals will address addiction and other specific mental health interests in therapy.

In addition to personal issues, patients in treatment will work to identify and prepare for triggers that may incite the desire to use. Learning coping skills to manage stress, pressure, and personal pain is an important part of recovery.

The duration of rehabilitation treatment varies depending on the program and the individual. The overall goal of rehabilitation treatment is to not only continue educating individuals about addiction, but also empower them to identify coping skills and strategies to ensure their long-term sobriety.

Why Aftercare is Important

Aftercare helps patients integrate the knowledge they acquired during treatment into their

new sober lives. Aftercare is a critical aspect of recovery, as most relapses occur within the first ninety days after rehab and at least half of those who enter addiction will relapse, according to recovery.org.

Developed to ensure successful recovery through a continuation of support, most aftercare programs are inpatient or outpatient programs in which individuals expand and reinforce the skills acquired in rehabilitation. Whether an individual chooses a sober-living home or an outpatient program as an aftercare treatment, it is important to have support while transitioning back into daily life.

Aftercare typically focuses on further developing relational skills, dealing with stress and other emotions, unpacking family dynamics, and handling personal triggers and temptations. Again, the supportive aspect of an aftercare program can aid individuals in forming connections and building confidence, elements which are commonly central to a patient’s full recovery.

Many aftercare programs also use a holistic approach to recovery, helping patients navigate the many aspects of their new lives of sobriety. Attention may be paid to the individual’s career goals or hobbies, helping them tailor a sober lifestyle to their ambitions and interests, and identifying personal inspirations for maintaining sobriety and finding ways to transition into an engaging sober life. Furthermore, many programs incorporate support for the patient’s family and may include family therapy sessions.

It is important to note, however, that each aftercare program will provide different resources and employ different approaches. The duration of aftercare also depends on the program as well as the individual, so patients can select the program that best suits their needs.

Regardless of the specific aftercare program, patients must demonstrate determination, hard work, and self-sufficiency to maintain their own sobriety. By engaging fully in the aftercare period, patients can reinforce their skills and knowledge to better prepare for an independent life of sobriety.

How to Get a Loved One into Aftercare

When it comes to getting a loved one into aftercare, they may resist based on perceived social stigma, fear of engaging vulnerably with others in the program, or the belief that the problem is under control without professional help.

If you are struggling to get some you care about into aftercare, remember that your goal should simply be to spark a desire to change in the individual. Rather than telling the individual what they should or should not do, focus on empowering them to change. It also helps to be as educated as possible on drugs and addiction prior to engaging with the individual. If needed, you can reach out to a therapist of counselor for guidance as well.

When you do speak to the individual of concern, make sure that they are physically sober rather than under the influence and in a safe environment. Be cautious with your tone of voice and your choice of phrases; these are important influences on the individual’s reaction.

It’s also important to remember that you are not ultimately responsible for anyone else’s actions. Even if an individual enters an aftercare program, know that the risk of relapse is not completely eliminated, but also be aware that relapse does not mean recovery is not possible for the individual. It is crucial for the patient’s support system to be patient with their journey in recovery.

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