When a person has completed the early stages of an alcohol or drug addiction treatment program, they are often tempted to believe that their fight to overcome the illness is over.
This is especially true of people who have completed the detox phase of a program. Many people falsely believe that overcoming addiction is a simple case of abstaining, passing through withdrawal and emerging without any further issues. In fact, the rehabilitation process takes some time and often care is continued after detox and inpatient rehab in the form of outpatient aftercare alcohol and drug treatment.
When individuals approach the end of a rehab program, they often feel anxious about returning home and coping on their own. An aftercare alcohol and drug treatment program provides them with continued care as they transition back to their daily routines, which is very effective in encouraging sustained sobriety. The objective of an inpatient rehab program is to prepare individuals for recovery and aftercare drug treatment serves to reinforce everything learned in drug and alcohol treatment so it can be applied to daily life.
Types of Aftercare Alcohol and Drug Treatment
The core components of an after care program include the following:
Therapy: Individual therapy is a vital component of an after care program as it deals with any continuing psychological issues after rehab alcohol treatment. Aftercare alcohol and drug treatment is offered by psychologists, counselors, social workers and mental health professionals on a one-to-one basis so that a personalized recovery strategy can be formalized. Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is commonly used in aftercare drug treatment as a way of reinforcing positive changes an individual has made in rehab to prevent relapse.
Support groups: Generally speaking, recovery support groups are not managed by addiction professionals, but by people experiencing similar issues themselves. Perhaps the best-known recovery support groups are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), both based on the 12-step program for substance abuse. However, there are alternatives to this faith-based approach including SMART Recovery, Women for Sobriety and Moderation Management.
Holistic or complementary therapies: There are other types of aftercare drug treatment components that fall under the alternative heading including holistic therapies such as meditation, music therapy, art therapy, adventure therapy, yoga, aromatherapy and massage. The holistic approach to aftercare offers people flexible options to support sobriety and prevent relapse, with techniques and practices that can easily be incorporated into a daily routine. Holistic medicine seeks to address to causes of illness whereas modern medicine treats the symptoms. Holistic components of an after care program continue to improve an individual’s self-awareness and increases self-confidence which is a considerable asset in recovery.
Physical exercise and nutrition: Many aftercare programs have fitness and nutritional components, particularly those offering holistic rehab such as Elevate. A healthy diet and regular exercise are formidable tools for relapse prevention as they naturally restore an individual’s overall wellbeing and build strength. Many nutritional imbalances have physical effects because of the strong relationship between diet and fitness. Incorporating a diet and exercise schedule into recovery helps promote long-term recovery, particularly when personal goals are set and progress monitored.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), there are four factors associated with successful long-term recovery from substance abuse, as follows:
- A strong desire to sustain abstinence from substance use, dealing with underlying health issues and implementing healthier lifestyle choices
- Having a stable home environment
- Having a sense of purpose from work, studies, familial responsibilities, volunteer work, etc.
- Support from close personal relationships and a solid peer network that reinforces the need to continue in recovery
Aftercare programs are effective because they underpin progress made in rehab without becoming a vital source of support for the individual in recovery. In essence, aftercare continues to act as a crutch to support people as they face inevitable challenges in recovery.
It is not possible to predict how smoothly a person will transition from residential rehab back into their home environment. Aftercare drug and alcohol treatment allows people to find immediate support when faced with situations or stressors that would otherwise lead to substance abuse. It is vital that people in recovery feel support is readily and easily accessible, particularly due to the compulsive nature of addiction illness.
Addiction is a relapsing illness that many people continue to deal with long after leaving residential rehab. This is mainly because the deep-rooted issues that generally drive addictive behavior often take considerable time to address. Many people with substance abuse issues also suffer with mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety, known as dual-diagnosis. Dual-diagnosis patients either used substances to self-medicate their mental illness or developed the symptoms as a result of abusing alcohol or drugs.
Whatever the reasons for a person’s substance abuse, it can take many years to unravel the psychological, physical and emotional damage caused by the illness. Aftercare is designed to continue a personalized recovery strategy in a real-time context so that individuals feel they are completely supported in their efforts to maintain sobriety.
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