Right now, throughout the United States, there are millions of people who are struggling with drug abuse and addiction. While seeking addiction recovery is an absolute necessity to get you started on your path of sobriety, it’s only one part of an integrated plan for lifelong success. Another critical aspect of your recovery is aftercare.


What is Aftercare and Why Is It Imperative to Lifelong Recovery?


An addiction aftercare program is a specific type of ongoing treatment service that supports a person’s recovery after achieving initial sobriety. Aftercare can be done both through inpatient rehabilitation or intensive outpatient rehabilitation. With relapse rates as high as 60% for some substance abuse disorders, seeking aftercare treatment is an absolute must to help drastically reduce your risk of relapsing in the future.


What Program Types Are Available?


Recovery aftercare programs tend to take on the form of one of two structures. Traditionally, an aftercare treatment program will be a 12-step program. Most people are familiar with this type of program for alcohol abuse. A 12-step program focuses on creating a supportive group environment in an anonymous setting where people are able to learn effective strategies for overcoming their addictions.


A second type of common aftercare therapy program is referred to as outpatient treatment. These types of recovery aftercare programs are a bit more intense than the 12-step programs and are tailored more to meet the specific needs of the individual. They’ll include things like addiction therapists, group counseling, and other types of program elements to help a person manage their drug addiction and maintain sobriety for the long term.


What Benefits Does Aftercare Treatment Offer For Those in Recovery?


One of the most recognized benefits of an aftercare treatment program is that it helps to starkly reduce the risk of a patient relapsing. It does this by helping to hold the patient accountable and showing them different ways to manage stress and other related issues that could otherwise lead to a desire to relapse. These programs help to create a real-life group of people with similar experiences that make lifelong sobriety seem more attainable than facing the challenge solely alone.


Apart from helping to greatly reduce your risk of relapsing, these aftercare programs can help with numerous other parts of your life. Many programs can assist with helping you to find recovery housing, clubs for recovery, community centers, sports groups, and other therapy groups. They can even assist you in restructuring your life to make it easier to prevent relapse.


What Are the Key Components?


As you start searching through different aftercare therapy programs, you’ll start to notice that they all have different elements that set them apart from different programs. However, there are a few key components of every aftercare program that will make it effective. Some of these include the following:


  • Constant Check-Ins With Counselors
  • Attending Group Therapy Sessions
  • Going to Individual Therapy Sessions
  • Obtaining a Sponsor or Mentor
  • Establishing an After Treatment Support System
  • Attending an Alumni Treatment Program
  • Going to Recovery Meetings


It’s important to realize that for any aftercare therapy program to be effective, it needs to have these key elements. While they can help on their own, having them all established together is the key to lifelong sobriety for many recovering drug abusers.


Strategies to Better Transition From Treatment to Aftercare


One of the areas that is known to create both physical and mental distress and increase the possibility of relapse is when a patient exits their initial treatment program. Making a successful transition to aftercare can help to reduce this risk significantly. There are a couple of different strategies that you can implement to help ensure that your transition goes smoothly.


First and foremost, understand your list of triggers and have a way to manage each one of them whenever they crop up. As you adapt to return to a life where you were in charge of structuring it instead of the treatment facility, it can be overwhelming. For most, running into their triggers at some point or another will happen. Having a way to manage those triggers is an absolute must so that you feel like you have control of what your body does instead of just falling back into old habits.


Another great tip is to try and add as much structure to your life as possible. This could be adding in a daily exercise routine or trying to cook different types of meals to maintain a healthy diet. Adding in aftercare program elements will help to create more structure and give you a better feeling of having control. Most patients end up relapsing simply because they don’t have a plan in place. Your job is to try to create structure and plans to occupy your mind and let time do its thing.