What Is Aftercare?
Recovery from drug abuse and addiction doesn’t stop when a treatment period ends. At its core, aftercare should be considered a type of continued treatment, which immediately follows a relatively shorter period of addiction treatment care, such as inpatient rehab or intensive outpatient treatment.
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE AFTERCARE
In the United States, an estimated 2.15 million people (9% of the population) have a substance use disorder (SUD). According to statistics, the rates of relapse are extremely high among people with an SUD—ranging from 37% to 56%.
Research finds that when people take advantage of aftercare services, their rates of relapse decrease.
Unfortunately, only about half of people utilize aftercare services and even fewer people complete their aftercare programs. If you are planning on entering or leaving a treatment program, make sure to plan ahead and have an aftercare program in place.
It is important to pay close attention to a patient’s post-treatment time interval, for it is during this crucial period that strides made during recovery are reinforced. There are many different kinds of aftercare treatment options which can help prevent relapse and expand upon the coping strategies learned during rehabilitation. They are as follows:
- Outpatient treatment: The individual lives at home while attending treatment a few times a week when it is convenient for him or her.
- Group counseling: The patient will listen to and share experiences associated with addiction and work to build social and coping skills in a group setting.
- Individual therapy: The patient will meet one-on-one with a therapist to build upon progress made during initial treatment.
- 12-step programs: Fellowship programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), provide support and encouragement for the individual on the road to recovery.
Clinicians can prescribe varying lengths of extended care or aftercare, depending on the individual’s needs and disposition upon completion of initial treatment.It’s vital that the patient follow his or her aftercare plan very carefully, as substance relapse rates are estimated to be between 40 and 60 percent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Often, continued participation with a 12-step program is strongly encouraged and, in some cases, required. Regularly scheduled outpatient follow-up appointments at a hospital or clinic are also quite commonly seen.