14 Minutes

Edited & clinically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
Fact checked

People trying to recover from addiction and substance abuse should be in rehabilitation for at least three months, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). This period of therapy allows the person to safely eliminate their body’s addiction to alcohol or drugs while simultaneously working with clinicians in personal and group sessions to improve self-awareness and stress-management strategies.

However, once a person completes the program, they must continue to work on sustaining their sobriety. Approximately half of those who complete a treatment program will return to substance abuse problems at some point.

Addiction treatment is a crucial first step toward living an alcohol- and drug-free life. You will develop coping mechanisms, relapse prevention techniques, and other vital tools to help you avoid relapsing into addictive habits. Treatment centers provide the optimal atmosphere for staying clean and sober, with community and staff support.

When you complete your course and depart from the treatment facility, the actual test of your sobriety begins. It’s simpler to say no to alcohol and drugs when you’re in a place that teaches people how to do so. It’s a whole other battle to keep saying no once you’ve returned to your routine.

This is why aftercare is such a crucial component of treatment programs for addiction. It allows a step down from greater levels of care rather than entirely quitting the supportive atmosphere of treatment. Aftercare helps you move back into your normal life after completing a more rigorous program.

What are a few characteristics of aftercare programs and how are they implemented? How can you ensure that you get the help you need once you leave your rehab facility? After all, alcohol and drug treatment is just the start of a lengthy road to recovery.

According to current drug relapse data, more than 85 percent of people relapse and resume drug use within a year of finishing treatment. According to studies, more than two-thirds of people in recovery relapse within weeks to months of starting therapy.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40-60 percent of those who have completed a rehab program will relapse. For many, the first 3 months after they are discharged from a rehab program are the most susceptible. Within a year of finishing their initial rehabilitation program, between 25-35% who complete it will be readmitted for additional treatment due to recurrence. After a person completes recovery, the chance of relapse does not decrease for another 4-5 years, after which it declines to roughly 15 percent. Since addiction is a chronic condition that can be controlled but not cured, the risk of relapsing into substance misuse habits never goes away completely.

Why are the stats on drug relapse so depressing? Most people will fail in their attempts to stay sober if they do not have a long-term addiction relapse prevention strategy in place, therefore having one in place is critical.

Drug relapse prevention programs are designed to deal with the issue of relapse by providing ways for avoiding or controlling it. Relapse prevention strategies for drug addiction are founded on the notion that high-risk conditions make a person more susceptible to relapse. People, situations, or emotions that contribute to drug-seeking behavior can all be considered high-risk situations.

To lower the likelihood of relapse, rehabilitation aftercare may link the patient with local support groups and programs. Relapses are prevalent among former patients, but they can be avoided or reduced with adequate aftercare. Relapse rates would be quite high if treatment centers just returned clients to their regular lives after they completed their program with no continuous support. Aftercare services, such as individual counseling and intensive outpatient programs (IOP), are designed to assist clients in gradually returning to their normal life while avoiding relapse into self-destructive habits or routines. Clients can also use aftercare classes to complete any work on themselves that was left unresolved during their main treatment.

When people leave treatment and return to the real world, they may require further assistance. The duration of stay at an inpatient treatment center is 30 to 90 days. Clients will have access to medication and therapy to manage their substance use disorders during this period. Yet, rehabilitation is only the first step in a long journey of recovery. Years or decades of effort are required, as well as continual treatment.

Aftercare is an important part of the treatment and rehabilitation process because it helps new clean patients with ongoing therapy and support. These individuals work with their main therapists to develop specific treatment plans and stay actively involved in their rehabilitation. Patient-created goals can drive people in rehabilitation to stick to their objectives, support networks, and routines throughout their aftercare programs. Patients in rehabilitation follow-up programs are also given healthy habits and positive coping methods to help them avoid relapsing into addiction.

Aftercare is required for everybody who receives addiction treatment, whether it be inpatient or outpatient. This phase of the program raises the likelihood of long-term sobriety and lowers the danger of relapse.

It teaches you how to appreciate your new self and the world around you, as well as practical skills like job hunting, eating, financial planning, and anger management. These abilities will assure you that you can live a happy, drug-free life.

The risks of not following through with an aftercare plan are simply too great to ignore. In the first three months after exiting residential rehab, more than half of those who enter its relapse. As you can see, an aftercare program is not only helpful to your recovery but also necessary for your long-term survival in actual life.

While the patients are in rehab, most treatment programs will offer aftercare strategies. Developing this plan will assist the individual in understanding what measures they can undertake when they exit rehab to continue working on their alcohol or drug recovery and obtain support from social networks to preserve their abstinence. Joining support networks, meeting with a therapist, or both are common components of an aftercare plan; nevertheless, these sessions are not the only features of an aftercare strategy, which should be personalized to the person’s lifestyle and what effectively supports them.

Making an aftercare plan allows a person to remain actively engaged in their addiction rehabilitation. The two most critical phases in overcoming substance addiction behaviors are detoxification and rehab, but understanding how abstinence fits into daily life requires continual support.

The great news is that millions around the world have completed rehab programs and have remained sober and healthier for years as a result of well-designed aftercare programs. Working with a therapist to establish a comprehensive aftercare plan that includes social support and relapse prevention allows a person to concentrate on their long-term objectives.

Various states in the US provide an online format of a form that must be completed when a person has been discharged from rehab. This form primarily serves as a bulleted list of crucial topics covered with a therapist or case manager during a meeting. The following information is included in the list:

  • Support group meetings, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), or comparable groups, times, places, and frequency
  • Individuals or Sponsors for assistance who are engaged in the program’s contact numbers, so they can be called in relapse or crisis events.
  • Journaling, keeping a consistent yoga practice, or regular religious services are all examples of personal goals for self-help.
  • As needed, individual counseling for continued substance abuse treatment
  • Meetings with the case manager to ensure that the aftercare plan is being followed.
  • Organizing everyday activities, such as working on a career or academic goals, finding stress-relieving hobbies, engaging in physical activity, and more.
  • Create a list of supportive and loving members of the family who will be able to help in an emergency.
  • Obtaining housing and transit assistance
  • Keeping insurance or other types of healthcare services is necessary.
  • Undertaking and completing vocational training or other academic goals
  • If necessary, financial planning
  • Nutritional aid, childcare, parental support, and other services may be available through municipal or governmental agencies.

While this is just one state’s form, it offers a compilation of discussion topics and initiatives that might help a person departing the comfort of a rehabilitation program manage stress. The person has a method to approach their new, sober life with aid if they communicate about their prospective needs upfront.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a comprehensive Prevention and Recovery Action Plan document. Most people desire to continue improving themselves, but they have a difficult time finding methods to do it regularly, according to the document. The stress of learning to control resources without assistance can result in failures or even a full-fledged relapse.

While dealing with a therapist, counselor, or case manager, SAMHSA suggests creating a notebook with much more thorough information to help the person on their way to recovery. The relapse prevention plan, as well as other components of aftercare like daily routines, meetings, relaxation exercises, and more, will be kept in this binder or notebook. The following are the 5 major steps in developing an effective aftercare strategy:

The Wellness Toolbox: The wellness toolkit includes the following items: This is a collection of daily activities that can help a person feel better, eliminate stress, and keep healthy all at once. Some of these ideas are as follows:

  • Three nutritious, well-balanced meals per day
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Sleeping on a regular schedule and getting to bed by 10 p.m.
  • Spending time doing something enjoyable, such as jogging, playing an instrument, or weaving
  • Getting enough physical activity
  • Spending time practicing mindfulness and meditation or another form of relaxation
  • Writing about a stressful incident and what may have caused it
  • Having a conversation with a loved one
  • Taking prescribed meds exactly as prescribed – not missing doses or using too much of them
  • Including vitamins or herbal products in your meals

Daily management plan: This plan’s subsections comprise steps to help you feel better, achieve your goals, and keep a record of your meals and exercise.

Feeling good: Give a detailed description of how it appears to be happy, optimistic, or satisfied. Compiling a list of descriptive terms, like brilliant, outgoing, lively, or hilarious, can help if whole sentences aren’t coming to mind.

Goals and Dreams: Aspirations, long- and short-term ambitions, and even the most outlandish future fancies can all be stated here. When the usual schedule becomes unpleasant or tedious, this serves to maintain a positive finish in sight.

Daily List: This is the comprehensive list of daily steps to encourage wellbeing that you can check off. This task list, which can also encompass morning and evening personal check-ins, spending quality time outside in the sunlight for at least ten min, and engaging in creative endeavors, can be found in the wellness toolbox.

Reminder List: Many of these, such as therapy visits, doctor’s appointments, housework, sending letters, and attending support groups, will occur on a regular basis, but not on a daily basis. This can be formatted like a calendar or a list.

List of Triggers: This component of the aftercare plan must be developed with the help of a counselor or therapist who can provide feedback and provoke inquiries. Stressful family ties, specific situations, birthday or death anniversaries, mental or physical illness symptoms, and more can all be triggers. Knowing most of those circumstances that may cause alcohol or drug cravings beforehand can help a person avoid them if at all feasible, or handle the stress of the stimulus if it cannot be prevented.

Action plan for Triggers: Develop an action plan for dealing with stress and stimuli as they emerge, based on the list. Listening to music, doing the various relaxing breathing exercises, or contacting a close one for consolation are all feasible approaches to lessen the likelihood of relapse caused by triggers.

Early warning indicators: Recognizing the signs of possible relapse early on can help to lessen the severity of the event or perhaps prevent it from happening. Stress, forgetfulness, loss of interest and pleasure, being slowed or ramped up, and alterations in appetite are all emotional and mental indications of a probable relapse. A possible relapse can also be indicated by neglecting self-care and daily activities in the aftercare plan, failing to participate in support group meetings or treatment sessions, and getting more lonely.

Following the warning signs and triggers of relapse, the aftercare plan must include data about clinicians, rehab centers, and engaged family members who can aid if the person relapses again into substance misuse. Crisis planning is also an essential part of aftercare management.

People with SUDs can participate in a variety of aftercare services. They learn about aftercare plans through treatment centers that provide therapy and other recovery-enhancing strategies. Patients have the option of:

  • Sober living facilities
  • Therapy 
  • 12-Step groups
  • Outpatient treatment, regular or intensive (IOP)

Sober Living Facilities

The most critical stage in a person’s recovery is the shift from rehabilitation to the life of a community. Sober living homes, often known as supportive housing, offer a safe, supportive and stable environment in which rehabilitation graduates can exercise their coping mechanisms in an alcohol- or drug-free atmosphere. No substance usage, compulsory house meetings, frequent drug screening, and involvement in household tasks are all common rules in sober living houses. These guidelines promote self-efficacy by providing accountability and structure. The majority of patients in a survey of 300 inhabitants of sober living houses published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs had beneficial results: a longer duration of sobriety, greater social engagement, and fewer legal difficulties after treatment.

Therapy Options

Patients in aftercare programs might choose from a variety of therapy choices. Along with the professional personnel, counseling fosters patients’ self-discovery and development. Deep-seated issues and traumas that feed addiction are unearthed by experienced personnel. Following are some examples of therapies that can be pursued in rehabilitation aftercare:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Spiritual/faith-based therapy
  • Recreational therapy
  • Biofeedback therapy
  • Therapy for motivational enhancement
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Music and art therapy
  • Motivational interviewing

Getting therapy on a routine basis while in recovery might improve one’s approach toward sobriety. After completing rehabilitation, the patient may not have as much access to mental health services. Patients can still get treatment and social circles after they acknowledge they need it all through aftercare services and intense outpatient programs.

Support Groups

In most places, there are mutual assistance recovery groups where patients in recovery can gather to share their stories and learn different coping techniques. The most common application of this paradigm is twelve-step groups. Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Dual Recovery Anonymous, Al-Anon, and Overeaters Anonymous are just a few of the many groups accessible in all metropolitan areas and many smaller cities. Attending a 12-step group is free, and your participation is kept private. Alternatives such as Smart Recovery are available for those wanting more secular solutions. Most community mental health facilities include extra groups and classes for people looking for a support structure after they’ve completed treatment.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)

Patients who complete rehabilitation are urged to enroll in an aftercare program, including an intense outpatient program. Patients who have completed inpatient rehabilitation are urged to enroll in IOP as an aftercare program because it provides accountability, structure, and additional opportunities to meet treatment goals, as well as increasing the possibility of sticking to long-term recovery. IOP can be non-residential or residential, and it enables patients to continue receiving therapy and support while reintegrating back into society.

IOP is particularly effective for people who are facing addiction and need to maintain a sense of self-awareness about their lives outside of their addiction. Patients can stay connected and accountable through support networks such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Apart from the major benefits and distinctions of high-end Luxury addiction and mental health rehab centers, one of the primary reasons for its premium success rate is the upscale, high-standard, highly effective aftercare programs. With high-end follow-up plans, relapse rates are much lower compared to traditional regular rehab centers.

A variety of aftercare plans are offered at premium luxury rehab centers depending on the specific requirements and convenience of the clients as discussed above. Our upscale luxury rehab for drug addiction and mental health treatments offers a 4-week free premium aftercare program with high-end weekly follow-ups for all patients. This ensures that you will be served by your premium luxury rehab medical team throughout the hardest and most vulnerable period for relapse when you return to regular living conditions in your community. A weekly follow-up further enhances the process by keeping a regular check on your progress and whether or not any further assistance with the rehab and coping strategies is required.

If you or a loved one has been struggling with addiction or mental health problems or if there have been frequent relapses despite attending rehab, contact us right now to avail premium luxury rehab services with prompt, rigorous, and precise aftercare services.

FAQs