Recovery from drug addiction is a long-term process that requires patience, humility and self-awareness. Since many productive habits are established and reinforced after treatment ends, aftercare is a major component of addiction recovery.
When clients discharge from treatment at The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health, they receive a detailed aftercare plan complete with medical, clinical, therapeutic and sober living resources to ensure that they can maintain recovery after rehab ends.
What Is Aftercare?
Also known as continuing care, aftercare can be thought of as the drug addiction recovery treatment needed after acute care needs have been fully addressed. Despite its name, planning for aftercare begins early in the addiction treatment process, from the first days of medical detox or inpatient rehabilitation.
Recovery takes daily commitment, and a thorough aftercare plan provides clients with the skills and support systems to pursue lifelong recovery. Aftercare plans may include relapse prevention strategies and accountability measures, including:
- Maintenance medication plans, if applicable: To help clients stay strong in sobriety, they may need to take maintenance medications during aftercare, such as Vivitrol. Medications like Vivitrol help people manage cravings during treatment and are only administered under the guidance of a primary care doctor or another medical professional.
- Recommendations for continuing individual therapy: During aftercare, people can deepen relationships with these caring professionals, who can help people build upon the recovery foundation established during acute treatment. Therapists can help people understand vulnerabilities to addiction, assist in processing emotions, show people how to avoid regressive habits and give constructive feedback on your progress.
- Recommendations for local group therapy: Under the guidance of an experienced therapist, people can participate with other individuals as group members share their experiences, listen to the experiences of others, form bonds and relate to each other. Since group therapies often reveal an individual’s life habits, traits and tendencies, the experience of the group is deeply meaningful and provides opportunities for people to examine and work on how they relate to the world.
- Lists of local, 12-step support groups: Connection to a 12 step-based fellowship such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous provides accountability, encouragement, camaraderie and support for those in recovery. In these fellowships, people can work with a sponsor on their recovery efforts, attend meetings with others in recovery as members talk about their experiences and have access to recovery resources like books and other literature.
- Sober living options: Because many people need a safe place to live after rehab, an aftercare plan may include recommendations for nearby sober living homes. In this supportive environment, clients can transition back to daily life in a home free from drug or alcohol abuse and familiar triggers.
Who Needs Aftercare?
Anyone who is completing rehab can benefit from a solid aftercare plan. Typically, people who need an aftercare plan:
- Have completed detox
- Are preparing to discharge from inpatient, partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient care
- Need to continue medication management in recovery
- Can benefit from follow-up appointments with physicians and counselors
- Want to find local resources for support groups
- Want stability and accountability during recovery
- Need support in relapse prevention planning
Those who are finishing up acute phases of treatment, such as residential or inpatient treatment, a partial hospitalization program or an intensive outpatient program must be able to create systems that preserve the skills and habits learned in these treatment settings. Aftercare is where those systems are reinforced. Without such systems, return to drug or alcohol use is more likely. Anyone who is vulnerable to relapse can benefit from aftercare.
Aftercare builds self-efficacy, and self-efficacy protects against relapse. Even people who have made consistent and dedicated recovery efforts have high rates of return to drug and alcohol use, but participation in aftercare programs has been repeatedly demonstrated to lower relapse rates.
For people who are beginning a life of recovery, aftercare provides the necessary support for sobriety to help people:
- Commit to lifelong recovery
- Find and embrace a support network outside of rehab
- Stay healthy physically, with follow-up appointments
- Continue healing mentally and emotionally from addiction
- Avoid relapse through maintenance medication, if applicable
- Start sobriety on the right track
Life After Rehab
For a recovering person, the time immediately following acute rehab is a vulnerable one, and it requires significant support to maintain the progress and gains made from acute treatment.
Whole-Person Wellness for Long-Term Recovery
Aftercare plans set people up for success in life after rehab as each plan accounts for physical, mental, emotional and social wellness. Many aftercare plans outline weekly steps for clients to take to stay strong in sobriety, and each recommendation is tailored to the client’s unique needs.
Sober Living Opportunities
To fully embrace aftercare planning in life after rehab, clients need safe living spaces that are conducive to recovery. Some aftercare plans, including those at The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health, connect clients to local sober living apartments or houses so that people can begin recovery in a structured home. Supportive environments are ones which foster accountability, self-awareness, honesty and openness, and clients can receive this integral support from sober living house managers and residents.
5 Patient Goals for Aftercare
Aftercare is designed to encourage people to take recovery seriously over the long-term. Some of the most important client goals during aftercare are to:
- Make conscious choices about time, energy and people
- Understand and learn to cope with emotions and stresses
- Identify triggers and avoid them when possible
- Remain honest about recovery and make realistic self-assessments
- Ask for help when necessary
Aftercare Treatment Programs
The primary components of an aftercare treatment program vary with an individual’s needs and the rehab center’s offerings, but many substance abuse aftercare templates often include:
- Participation in 12-step groups or other support groups
- Regular progress monitoring using phone calls and mobile tracking apps
- Rehearsed relapse prevention techniques
- Outpatient follow-up with a therapist and medical provider
- Living environment support
- Drug testing and monitoring
Your Recovery Is Possible
Recovery from drug or alcohol addiction takes time and dedication and it is not an easy process. Aftercare can ensure that the progress made in acute treatment is sustained and integrated into a meaningful, satisfying life strategy. With proper planning and support, recovery can happen for you.
At The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health, we understand how to make the progress from acute treatment stick with you in the long-term. Our dedicated staff can help you formulate a plan to guide you from hope of rehabilitation to the joy of everyday living. Call us or contact us online to get started.
Kadden RM, Litt MD. “The role of self-efficacy in the treatment of substance use disorders.” Addictive Behavior, 2011. Accessed April 29, 2019
McKay, JR. “Continuing care research: what we have learned and where we are going.” Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 2009. Accessed April 29, 2019