Achieving sobriety is a huge and important goal. However, maintaining that sobriety is just as necessary. What happens in rehab matters, but recovery doesn’t end the day that treatment ends. A good aftercare program keeps clients on the right track and leads to a lifetime of recovery without relapse.
The Importance of an Aftercare Program
A quality rehab or treatment center will always emphasize some form of aftercare support. Addiction relapse is a serious risk, and it can be an issue for more than 50 percent of the people who get treatment. Clearly, this is not a problem you can ignore. Aftercare support builds on what you learn in rehab and guides you on the path of recovery for a lifetime.
Aftercare is about more than just relapse avoidance, however. It is also about maintaining ties to the recovery community. It can be a great tool to slowly integrate back into an independent lifestyle without losing support and encouragement along the way. Most importantly, it prolongs the recovery process and gives clients a little more time, knowledge and confidence to navigate triggers, cravings, and temptations in the real world.
Focus on Relapse Prevention
A big part of any aftercare program is relapse prevention education. This is just what the name implies–working hard to minimize the risk of relapse through group support and education. There are a wide range of strategies that can be used to prevent relapse, and many of them can be included in aftercare.
Often, accountability is a big part of staying on track with your sobriety. Some aftercare options include a reference to sober living facilities, where there is no access to drugs or alcohol. In other cases, clients get regular blood or urine tests to check for sobriety compliance. This is just another mechanism that reinforces good behaviors and makes it harder to veer off the path of recovery.
Another way to prevent relapse is to emphasize the need for long-term solutions. Many clients will begin a 12-step program during rehab. The 12-step philosophy is a lifetime commitment. Local meeting groups continue to offer support for years after rehab has ended.
Identifying Triggers and Creating Personal Solutions
During rehab and aftercare, clients benefit from therapies that identify triggers and find solutions. Triggers are unique and very personal, so this has to be a customized process. Just identifying those personal triggers is a giant step in the right direction.
After identifying triggers, clients and therapists work together to find alternative actions that don’t involve substance abuse. Triggers include stress, traffic, hunger, thirst, loneliness, financial problems or just a bad mood. Therefore, solutions must be just as diverse.
Some clients find that heading to the gym eliminates triggers. Others find that packing healthy snacks in their bags each day cuts down on those cravings for addictive substances. Visiting a local support group, playing guitar or attending a dance class are still more solutions that can be investigated during aftercare. These alternatives to drug or alcohol use reduce triggers, temptations and the risk of relapse.
In a men’s or women’s rehab program, clients usually become very close. The bonds formed in group therapy and in shared social settings can last a lifetime. After all, these men and women have a lot in common and they often feel truly understood in the company of their peers. An alumni program is a fantastic way to stay in touch long after rehab is over.
Alumni programs are a small part of aftercare, but they can be very effective. Peer support, encouragement, and accountability can often mean more than advice from staff members or medical professionals.
Begin Your Journey to Health at Ocean Recovery
Long before your aftercare program ever begins, you’ll need to find addiction treatment that offers evidence-based solutions and a plan for recovery. At Ocean Recovery, custom rehab strategies might include any or all of the following: