Aftercare: The Key to Successful Recovery

Seeking professional treatment for substance addiction dramatically increases your chances of long-term recovery, largely due to the various therapies that are employed to help you work through the issues that led to substance abuse in the first place. But what happens after treatment? Are you tossed out into the street, expected to pick up your life where you left off, except sober?

Not at all. An integral part of addiction treatment is aftercare , which is an individualized program that includes various components to help you navigate your newfound life of sobriety once you've completed treatment.

Components of Aftercare

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, aftercare is designed to support recovery through evidence-based practices and a wide variety of linguistically and culturally appropriate services provided by both professionals and peers.

The typical aftercare plan includes ongoing individual, group, and family therapy as well as participation in a community-based, peer recovery support group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Smart Recovery.

Other components of the aftercare plan are chosen to address the specific issues that may affect your ability to successfully cope with ongoing recovery and may include:

  • Time spent in a sober living facility to help ease your transition back to "real" life
  • Vocational rehabilitation to help you secure employment
  • Legal assistance
  • Educational assistance
  • Assistance with finding safe housing
  • Ongoing monitoring of any medical conditions or mental health problems
  • Relapse prevention programming
  • Contingency management programs, which provide tangible rewards for attending meetings, maintaining sobriety, and meeting personal goals
  • Activities that promote the development of healthy relationships and enjoyable hobbies

Case Management for Aftercare

While aftercare services are provided by a number of different individuals and organizations, including healthcare professionals, community- and faith-based groups, schools, and peers in recovery, you will be assigned a case manager who will be your point of contact for all of these service providers.

Your case manager will conduct ongoing assessments of your aftercare plan to ensure it's meeting your current, new, and emerging needs. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, case managers are particularly important for women in recovery. Their job is to thoroughly and competently address any and all issues that may impact their clients negatively, whether or not these issues are directly related to substance abuse.

Your case manager will advocate for you and help you find whatever resources you need to help alleviate various stressors so that you can maintain life productivity and keep your focus on maintaining sobriety.

Aftercare Helps Prevent Relapse

Recovery isn't easy, but according to the Butler Center for Research, a 2011 study found that the likelihood of remaining abstinent increases by 20 percent for each consecutive month you engage in aftercare services during the first six months after treatment.

Aftercare builds on the momentum you gained in treatment, and it promotes overall good health and well-being to ensure you maintain a high quality of life as you work toward long-term recovery.

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