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How Well Do You Understand the Role of Aftercare Programs in Relapse Prevention?

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Home Addiction How Well Do You Understand the Role of Aftercare Programs in Relapse Prevention?

Many people today believe that detox and rehab are cures for substance abuse.  In truth, treatment programs are just the first step in the recovery process.  Recovery is not a destination, but a journey that should not be traveled alone.  Along the way, a person in recovery will need to reach out for guidance to help them remain on course.  Aftercare programs can fulfill that need.

Unfortunately, many people who complete treatment believe they are ready to tackle sober living.  Their newfound confidence causes many of them to reject joining an aftercare program. They leave rehab filled with optimism and anticipation about their new life, thinking “Yeah, I’ve got this.”

How Aftercare Programs Contribute to Recovery Efforts

The importance of aftercare should not be underestimated. Addiction treatment providers understand the need for ongoing support and guidance post-rehab. For this reason, relapse prevention plans are encouraged and discussed with clients during their time in rehab.  Counselors work with clients to create an aftercare plan that best suits their situation outside of the facility.  

What is aftercare and why is it key to relapse prevention?  Aftercare is any type of ongoing guidance and support you receive after completing rehab.  The programs vary depending on each person’s situation, but they typically include counseling, meetings, outpatient care, and sober living arrangements.  

Aftercare programs contribute to a person’s recovery efforts by providing continuing support, encouragement, and guidance during the transition from rehab.  

People who are in recovery often feel overwhelmed or intimidated. However, actively participating in aftercare services helps a person feel that they are not alone.  They should be able to reach out for advice or just to hear a friendly voice when things get tough.

What Should You Expect From Aftercare Programs?

The goal of aftercare programs is to help recovering individuals anticipate challenges that may interfere with their sobriety and plan solutions for them.  This approach helps a person stay motivated and on track as they work toward their goals.

Since the risk of relapse is highest in the first few months after rehab, aftercare programs include activities and resources to help you cope with stress, triggers, and cravings.  

If you’re wondering what to expect, an aftercare program typically includes the following options:

  • Participation in the treatment center’s alumni program.
  • Attending recovery meetings such as 12-steps or self-help groups.
  • Attending group and individual counseling sessions.
  • Staying in a sober living facility for a while.
  • Keeping in touch with a sponsor or other support team members.

Many treatment centers offer alumni programs that provide fun, sober activities where former graduates can connect with one another.  

Sober living facilities help recent rehab graduates enjoy a substance-free, structured, and supportive environment.  Each sober living home has rules and curfews, and they expect residents to work or actively seek employment.  Although they are not long-term residences, they allow enough time for people to establish other arrangements.

When setting up an aftercare plan, you should consider your unique situation.  Will you need to find employment, housing, or continued treatment?  If so, your therapist will help you find resources in the community to help with these concerns.

How Long Does an Aftercare Plan Last?

The plan you create should be based on how far along you are in recovery.  For instance, some people need aftercare services for weeks or months, while others may need them for a year or more.  Most therapists recommend that you remain engaged in aftercare for at least one year.  

What Are the Best Ways to Avoid Relapsing?

While you are actively engaged in an aftercare program, you can take steps to reduce your risk of relapse.  For example:

  • Participate in scheduled recovery meetings regularly.
  • Take the time to educate yourself about addiction and recovery.
  • Attend counseling and therapy sessions.
  • Build a sober support network.
  • Learn to identify triggers.
  • Have a relapse prevention plan.
  • Participate in positive activities or hobbies.
  • Stay healthy by exercising, eating well, and getting enough sleep.

Remember, about 40 to 60 percent of people relapse within the first month after leaving rehab.  Relapse doesn’t mean you have failed.  However, it may indicate that you need a different treatment approach and could benefit from a little more time in rehab.  Most importantly, if you relapse, don’t wait to reach out for help.  

Learn About the Aftercare Programs at Design for Change Recovery 

At Design for Change Recovery, we recognize the importance of aftercare programs.  We know our clients worked hard to overcome their addictions, so we don’t want them to fall back into substance use when they leave our facility.  To that end, we work with clients to create a personalized aftercare program that precisely aligns with their needs and expectations. Our goal is to help clients stay on their recovery path for the long term.  

If you’d like to know more about aftercare programs at Design for Change, reach out to us today.  One of our representatives will be happy to answer your questions and assist you in any way.


Substance Use