Completing an addiction rehab program is a feat in and of itself, but it’s rarely the end of the line in terms of maintaining sobriety. Many people who finish inpatient rehab programs go on to continue their recovery efforts in an aftercare program. There are several types of addiction aftercare programs available, including 12-step programs, regular counseling, and sober living homes. In this article, we explore what addiction aftercare programs are, why they are important, and the most common types of aftercare programs available.
What Is Aftercare in Addiction Treatment?
Aftercare is any form of treatment received after an individual has completed an addiction rehab program. For example, someone who recently completed a 30-day inpatient program may choose to reside in a sober living home for several months to continue to support their sobriety. The sober living home would be considered a type of aftercare.
During a drug and alcohol rehab program, patients typically go through the withdrawal process as well as begin to understand why they used substances in the first place. They may have developed a few tools to promote continued sobriety and experience a more clear and level head. However, this is hardly the last step in long-term recovery.
Individuals who are serious about staying sober often choose to pursue continued treatment to maintain their sobriety as well as further learn how to cope with triggers, challenging situations, personal setbacks, and relapse. Aftercare programs help individuals learn valuable tools as well as provide ongoing support and structure for people learning how to live drug-free life.
Why Are Aftercare Programs Important?
Aftercare drug and alcohol addiction programs are incredibly important to a person’s long-term sobriety. Inpatient and outpatient addiction rehab is considered only the initial stage in addiction recovery, and once someone completes this type of program and re-enters society, they will be faced with many temptations. Aftercare programs provide assistance and support as a person learns how to live in the world without drugs and alcohol.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and several other sources, 100% of individuals who do not participate in an aftercare program following short-term rehab will relapse. While relapse is certainly considered to be a component of recovery and is the norm rather than the exception, aftercare addiction programs can help prevent relapse as well as help those who have relapsed get back on track sooner.
Other benefits of an aftercare addiction program include:
- The opportunity to form relationships with others in addiction recovery
- Constant support and guidance from those who have experience with the many facets of addiction
- Help to find employment or continuing education
- Opportunities to learn important life skills
- Relapse prevention support
- The chance to build on what was learned in inpatient or outpatient rehab
- A structured way of living that can be valuable in early recovery
Common Types of Aftercare Addiction Programs
There are several types of aftercare programs and resources that someone can use after the successful completion of an acute rehab program. An individual may choose to use one of these programs or many to support their life in recovery. The following are a few of the most common aftercare programs used in the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction.
Outpatient Addiction Programs
Outpatient addiction programs are a great way to continue receiving high-quality and fairly intensive treatment after completing an inpatient rehab program. This type of program allows patients to attend therapy and other recovery-oriented activities during the day or in the evenings and return home after the treatment for the day is completed. Some people may choose to use outpatient treatment as their primary source of addiction recovery; however, it can also be used as an aftercare option.
The most common types of outpatient treatment include intensive outpatient programs (IOP), standard outpatient programs, and partial hospitalization programs (PHP). Each form of outpatient rehab varies in intensity, so it’s important to understand each option before deciding which one is best for you.
Sober living is another common aftercare program, especially for those who have recently completed an inpatient rehab program. This type of aftercare is strongly recommended for those who do not have a supportive or drug- and alcohol-free home environment. There are several types of sober living, with the most popular being recovery housing, therapeutic communities, and halfway houses.
Halfway houses are residencies that help individuals re-enter society after an inpatient program. They offer a high level of accountability and structure and often have several rules that must be abided by in order to be able to continue to live in the halfway house. For example, residents may be required to have a job or to be searching for a job during normal work hours to be able to stay in the halfway house. Many halfway homes also require tenants to take and pass random drug tests throughout the course of their stay. A positive drug test often results in eviction.
Recovery housing is similar to halfway housing but is short-term and less intensive in structure. The goal of recovery housing is to help people get back on their feet after an addiction treatment program by assisting them in finding jobs and other outside resources that promote independence.
Therapeutic communities are the most intensive form of aftercare sober living and typically last from six to 12 months depending on the person’s needs and condition. These communities are often in an environment that is similar to inpatient rehab and include various forms of support including vocational and educational support and therapy.
Support groups are an incredibly common type of aftercare program. The most popular support groups for addiction are 12-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, and Narcotics Anonymous. Other support groups include non-12-step groups and peer recovery support groups. The goal of an addiction support group is to build relationships with others in recovery and learn important tools and coping mechanisms that help a person deal with life sans drugs and alcohol.
Individual and Group Counseling
Another aftercare option is individual and/or group counseling that is focused on addiction recovery. Someone may see a counselor once or several times a week to discuss their continued sobriety, struggles, and other things related to their recovery efforts. Various forms of therapy may be used during counseling such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy.
How Long Do You Need to Attend an Aftercare Program?
How long someone will need to attend an aftercare program will depend on their individual needs, condition, and situation. Some patients may feel comfortable ending an aftercare program after only a few weeks or months, while others may need to continue in a program for several months or even years. Some individuals participate in one or more types of aftercare for the rest of their lives.
Aftercare options like support groups and therapy can also be utilized or increased based on someone’s needs. For example, if a person is having a particularly stressful or difficult time, they may increase how often they attend therapy or a support group to help them stay sober through that time.
How to Find the Right Aftercare Program for You
Everyone is different and each person’s aftercare needs will vary. It’s important to work with an addiction specialist or another trusted individual who is familiar with your situation when determining what type of program to pursue. If you’d like help deciding what type of aftercare program you should attend and where to find it, give us a call today. Our dedicated addiction specialists would be happy to answer your questions and help you find the best option for you.