Aftercare can become one of the most important steps in the recovery process due to the possibility of relapse. Beating addiction is a long-term process that needs to become a lifelong commitment, so the investment in an additional period of substance abuse management is often just as significant as the initial recovery steps. Here are some reasons why aftercare is significant and what someone entering an addiction treatment program should expect at this time.
A crucial time
Statistics suggest that somewhere between 40 and 60 percent of individuals who go through a rehabilitation program will relapse. Within the first year, this rate is even higher. This is because everyone needs time to adjust to their new way of life and develop coping mechanisms to avoid abusing drugs or alcohol, which can take more time than a few months of treatment. Most people have heard of individuals entering a halfway house or a sober home immediately after completing a rehab program. That is because this form of aftercare offers a structured environment and accountability, rather than allowing individuals to leave and be on their own while they face a new set of struggles associated with sobriety. There also may be group activities or therapy sessions while staying in these homes. Some also choose to have these kinds of sessions or checkups in an outpatient setting if they need more freedom, yet still, require the accountability associated with a halfway house. If there are any doubts about someone’s ability to remain sober on their own, they should consider aftercare rather than risk the serious health or legal problems associated with relapse.
Is aftercare really necessary?
While it may be possible for someone to totally overcome their addictions after a brief stint in rehab, this is not always the case. Some people can experience long-term withdrawal symptoms from drugs such as opiates that require additional medications. Some people may be required by law through programs such as probation or community control to be monitored and tested for drugs and/or alcohol as a condition of release. These programs may last several months or years after the person is released to make sure they are no longer addicted or using illegal drugs. A positive social environment is also associated with better recovery outcomes, which is due to the fact that newly recovered individuals tend to experience negative emotions associated with their addictions. In isolation, these feelings can become intense and lead the person into relapse as a form of improper emotional management.
Planning for the future
If someone is serious about remaining sober for good, they need to take the time to develop a new life that will include maintenance of their responsibilities and social relations, but eliminate their addictions. Aftercare can gradually ease someone into this process and create a period of trial and error where professionals can help with any issues that arise. Therapists and others who are involved in the aftercare process will provide the tools necessary to deal with stress and temptations that will occur on a regular basis when someone returns to a normal life.
A good start is the best path to success
Addiction is a chronic condition that requires long term management. Tensions with family and financial or career problems tend to be large sources of stress within the first year of recovery. If someone remains sober throughout this early time, the possibility of relapse will drop off significantly. Aftercare will often provide some kind of blueprint through consistent meetings or programs that can be part of a person’s regular routine if necessary. Unfortunately, some individuals tend to not be as serious about aftercare and the following steps at their own peril, as this ability to remain sober, is more important than the initial rehab program and the best indicator of a person’s future outlook. In other words, appropriate aftercare will demonstrate whether someone can really handle sobriety or not.
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Principles Recovery offers many services related to addiction treatment. Principles Recovery is located in Davie, Florida, and we are available to provide help to you or a family member who is struggling with addiction.