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Article Summary


When someone is finished with any drug rehab program, it isn't unheard of for treatment counselors to recommend a continuum of care such as aftercare and other support services. Aftercare can either take place at the drug rehab program the individual has just completed treatment in, or through independent therapists, counselors, etc. or support groups. Aftercare clients who are receiving aftercare in the drug rehab they completed are often referred to as alumni. As alumni they are typically part of a small group of program graduates that will meet two to three times per week to receive aftercare together. Aftercare is a good idea for any treatment client, even those who have been a part of an extensive and intensive drug rehab program. It is also particularly ideal if someone was in treatment only briefly in short term drug rehab or in an outpatient program, in which case aftercare may be required to ensure they don't experience any kind of difficulties or a relapse soon after leaving rehab.

Preventing Relapse

Aftercare includes providing a strong system of support and additional treatment services as needed so that the individual has constructive outlets and something reliable to lean on and turn to when they run into trouble. Aftercare is meant to compliment treatment received in drug rehab, so many aftercare options include activities which can help identify and eliminate things in the person's life which could trigger a relapse. Counseling, group therapy, family therapy and similar aftercare services help accomplish this, and the individual will very likely see a counselor or take part in group and family therapy for several months as part of aftercare. Aftercare may also entail addressing immediate lifestyle issues which could compromise abstinence. For example, if someone has nowhere to go after treatment it would not be ideal to put them out on the street where they will struggle and likely relapse. Aftercare in this instance would very likely include staying at a halfway house or sober living facility until the individual has made other living arrangement and is back on their feet.

Aftercare Increases the Chances of Success

Time and results have shown that individuals who receive aftercare after completing a treatment program fare better in the long term than those who choose not to receive aftercare. Aftercare activities are scheduled on a weekly basis and goals are set so that the individual continues to progress in a positive way in their lives, and obviously remain abstinent. Group meetings are common during aftercare, where clients can feel free to communicate about any success they are having as well as any challenges. Gaining perspective and feedback from their peers who are also in aftercare and trying to better their lives can go a long way for individuals trying to get back on their feet after a life of substance abuse. And because individuals remain connected to the drug rehab through aftercare, if there are any setbacks they can transition right back into rehab if that is the correct step.

How Long Does Aftercare Last?

Aftercare typically lasts 6 months to a year in a structured aftercare program, yet there are many instances of individuals remaining in aftercare for as long as two years. It isn't uncommon for drug rehab programs to provide aftercare either free of charge or at very little cost to the treatment client if the individual receives aftercare after having completed an intensive treatment plan at the facility. If the drug rehab program that someone is participating in doesn't have a free aftercare option, some health insurance plans cover a certain amount of time in aftercare. Check with your insurance provider and also discuss aftercare options with your treatment counselor before your treatment plan is complete so that all of this is in order once you are ready to leave drug rehab.

Most aftercare clients not only find that aftercare activities are helpful for their own recovery, but many also benefit from helping others who may be positively influenced by their recovery process and experience in rehab and aftercare. Some aftercare clients have even been known to become professional treatment counselors themselves, and go on to help others recover from addiction. Aftercare should not be confused with the ideology that one's life is a never-ending recovery process, because individual's can complete aftercare and go on to lead completely healthy and drug free lives without remaining in "recovery" indefinitely. This is a very personal choice, and some individuals may choose this route such as remaining connected to a 12-step group. Yet, this isn't the only option and there are many alternative aftercare options available which are just as effective.

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