Addiction aftercare is a collection of programs for people who have completed drug or alcohol addiction rehab. Addiction aftercare helps those in recovery maintain the motivation they gained in treatment to abstain from drugs or alcohol. Using again after rehab, known as a lapse, can trigger a relapse of the addiction, which will require another round of detox and addiction treatment.
Aftercare plans are highly individualized to meet the specific and unique needs of each person who completes treatment. The typical aftercare plan will include ongoing therapy and a commitment to a community self-help support group, and other components will be added based on need.
The programs offered in addiction aftercare plans are designed to meet a wide variety of needs and address a number of challenges people face in their first months and years of sobriety. Most of the programs that comprise the aftercare plan are extensions of those that began in treatment.
Relapse prevention programs deal with the mechanics of lapse and relapse. Part education and part therapy, relapse prevention programming helps patients develop the skills and strategies and learn the techniques necessary to abstain from drugs or alcohol after treatment. These include skills for coping with stress, strategies for avoiding or handling high-risk situations, and techniques that can help alleviating cravings.
Family therapy helps repair broken relationships and improve the functioning of the household to reduce stress at home, which is a major trigger for relapse.
Individual cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches patients to identify false beliefs, harmful attitudes, and self-destructive actions and develop ways to replace them with healthier thoughts and behaviors.
Ongoing monitoring of a mental illness is essential for those who have received a dual diagnosis, which made when a mental disorder accompanies an addiction. The illness itself and the medications used to treat it need to be carefully monitored, since mental illness can interfere with thoughts and behaviors.
Vocational rehab helps patients with limited job skills or experience gain the knowledge they need in order to secure and maintain employment, which has been shown to reduce the risk of relapse.
Sober living facilities provide those in recovery with a safe and somewhat structured living environment to help ease the transition from rehab back home. Residents of sober living facilities, also known as halfway houses, benefit from the support of others in recovery and structured activities and meetings that help promote healthy social functioning and fill idle time with productive pursuits.
Participation in community-based recovery groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or Smart Recovery. Regular meetings help build and maintain momentum for recovery, offer peer and sponsor support, and foster healthy relationships with other non-users.
If a lapse occurs, it may or may not lead to relapse. However, intervention is essential for getting back on track with recovery, and the sooner it occurs, the better. Those who use again after treatment may need to spend a little time in a rehab facility to address the issues behind the lapse and re-evaluate any destructive relationships that contributed to it.
After a lapse, the aftercare plan will be revised as well. Additions will likely include an increase in the number of therapy sessions and recovery group meetings as well as other programming to address the patient's new or changing needs.