The Importance of Aftercare in Recovery

By some measures, more than half of all alcoholics and drug addicts who have completed a standard 28-day course of detox and rehab will experience one or more relapses within twelve months after they have completed that course. The hold that addictive substances can gain on a person is so strong that even memories of the physical pain and discomfort of withdrawal are insufficient to keep addicts away from abused substances. Because of that hold and the high risk of relapse, aftercare is a crucial part of every alcoholic’s and drug addict’s long-term recovery and path to genuine sobriety.

“Aftercare Life”
An alcoholic or addict will never “recover” from his addictions, and those addictions can plague him throughout his life, even if he has stayed away from drugs or alcohol for a period of several years. Aftercare and constant vigilance are critical to avoid relapses, particularly in the first twelve months after the initial rehab. A substance abuser will often exit a rehab facility feeling full of energy and resolve to stay away from drugs or alcohol, but then reality begins to affect him. He may be fraternizing with the same people or visiting the same environs that led initially him to drug or alcohol abuse. Family or employment stresses can lead him to seek the fleeting comfort of drugs or alcohol. He may simply feel bored with his newly-sober lifestyle and seek excitement and relief from boredom with abused substances. These external temptations will not disappear, and a substance abuser will benefit from regular aftercare assistance to handle them.

“Aftercare Treatment”
Twelve-step recovery programs and other support groups are one of the common aftercare techniques to keep recovering addicts and alcoholics away from abused substances. Recovering addicts find comfort and support in these groups from other persons who understand the allure of drugs and alcohol and who can give them third-party, objective advice on how to resist their temptations. Individual counseling and psychotherapy are also effective, particularly when a recovering addict has also experienced depression, anxiety, or other psychological problems that contributed to his addiction. No two recovering addicts are facing the same issues, and group counseling, while effective, will not address the unique or individual problems that a recovering addict may be facing. This is particularly true for younger and adolescent addicts who are experiencing identity, social, and other issues that they may not feel comfortable discussing in a group setting. Counselors and therapists can structure individualized aftercare recovery programs that address these issues while simultaneously treating other diagnostic matters.

“Sober Living Facilities”
Some addicts and alcoholics will also benefit from temporary living arrangements in sober living facilities after they have completed an initial course of rehab. Sober living houses allow an addict to re-establish a regular lifestyle and to develop new life skills away from the temptations that may still remain in their pre-recovery home living situations. These facilities also help recovering addicts to adopt new and regular routines that include group therapy and participation in 12-step programs. They also provide educational opportunities for recovering addicts to learn and experience new activities to fend off the inevitable boredom that they feel during their first few months of sobriety.

Sustain Recovery Services in southern California provides rehab and aftercare recovery services for adolescents and young adults who have succumbed to drug addiction or alcoholism. Please see our website or call us at 949-407-9052 for more information about our services or to arrange a confidential consultation with one of our counselors.