Addiction treatment doesn’t stop when a client completes residential inpatient treatment. It would be unrealistic and unfair to send someone home without offering a plan for aftercare post addiction treatment and expect them to remain sober. The aftercare is an important part of the recovery plan, and this stage isn’t something that should be overlooked.
How Aftercare Treatment Benefits Someone in Recovery
There are a number of reasons why aftercare should be part of a client’s recovery plan. Some of the benefits are discussed below:
1. Addiction is a chronic disease and treatment should be ongoing.
Research has shown that addiction is a chronic brain disease. Over time, using addictive substances changes brain chemistry, altering the affected person’s thinking and decision-making processes.
Recovery is an ongoing process, not a destination that a person reaches and then is declared “done”. Since addiction is a long-term illness, it makes sense that people living with it continue to receive help and support over a long term, too. Aftercare, in the form of seeing a counselor or attending support groups, can help people in recovery stay on track after they leave a drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility.
2. Aftercare provides continued support after initial treatment.
When someone who has developed a substance abuse issue enters a residential treatment program, their entire focus is on getting well. The environment inside the treatment center is a closed one. Clients have the most contact with their counselors, nurses, and other staff at the treatment center.
The recovery program allows clients to participate in group and individual therapy sessions. Clients also can also get in touch with their spirituality, learn conflict management techniques, explore art therapy for healing, and enjoy recreational and leisure activities.
Once this part of treatment is completed, a client is going to continue to need ongoing support to maintain his sobriety. It’s more challenging to handle situations in the “real world” than the relatively controlled atmosphere of the treatment center.
3. Continuing support can reduce likelihood of relapse.
For people living with a chronic disease, the possibility of a relapse is always present. In the case of addiction, there are some things a client can do to lessen the likelihood of a relapse occurring. One of them is to seek long-term, residential treatment. English Mountain Recovery offers a 90-day inpatient treatment program.
When clients are able to take more time with the initial stage of their treatment, they are setting themselves up for success after they leave the program. The longer a client is able to spend in a treatment program, the more time her brain has to start to heal from the effects of exposure to addictive drugs.
The treatment program models a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious, balanced diet. A good diet is part of the equation that helps the brain and body heal from exposure to drugs and alcohol.
When a long-term treatment program is combined with continuing support, a client is increasing her chances of continuing sobriety. She will have gained more time to practice the skills required to deal with life stresses that formerly would have triggered her to use drugs or drink alcohol.
During follow-up counseling or group therapy sessions, clients can discuss challenges they are facing as they transition to life after residential treatment, how they decided to cope with the challenges, and whether they felt that the coping strategy was successful or not.
4. A counselor or support group is a valuable source of insights into coping mechanisms.
Fellow support group members or a counselor can provide insights that new acquaintances can’t or won’t give to someone who is new to recovery. They understand the struggles of someone who has been in treatment for substance abuse and what it’s like to try to rebuild one’s life after taking time out to get help.
Aftercare is a stage of treatment that shouldn’t be skipped because a client thinks that inpatient drug and alcohol treatment should be “enough” to help someone who has struggled with addiction. English Mountain’s alumni program is an essential part of the treatment we offer.
By Jodee Redmond