Substance use disorder or addiction as its better known is a chronic and relapsing illness that often requires lifelong treatment. Most of us are familiar with the detox and rehab aspects of addiction treatment but what happens when a person has finished a program and is returning home? Many rehab patients have growing concerns towards the end of treatment about how they are going to adjust to a life without substance use. Aftercare after alcohol and drug treatment seeks to provide a supportive bridge between inpatient rehab and the transition back into home-life so that the chances of a long-term recovery are much higher.

Put simply, aftercare alcohol and drug treatment is continued substance abuse care that is generally delivered on an outpatient basis. The primary objective of an aftercare program is to prevent relapse which is achieved by maintaining a disciplined schedule of therapy and counseling sessions. This provides recovering individuals with another layer of accountability so that they can monitor their progress in aftercare therapy sessions. When people leave inpatient drug and alcohol treatment and return home, they often experience triggers, stressors, and cravings that they may not have prepared for. Aftercare for alcohol and drug treatment ensures there is someone available at all times to support them through difficult situations and avoid relapse.

What Makes an Effective Aftercare Treatment Program for Addiction?

Not all substance abuse aftercare alcohol and drug treatment programs offer the same services. At Elevate, we have a strong focus on the holistic approach to addiction treatment that continues when patients leave our inpatient center in San Francisco. The treatments and therapies offered at Elevate are intended to heal the mind, body, and spirit of those who have been struggling with substance abuse rather than just applying a “quick fix” to the symptoms of addiction illness.

According to the Addiction Referral Specialist training manual, the average age of a person entering drug and alcohol treatment is 34-years old, with almost three-quarters admitting to having used their addictive substance before the age of 21. This means the average person in rehab has been abusing the same substance for at least ten years before seeking treatment. The fact that addiction can last for a whole decade before it is treated gives a very clear indication of the level of work that needs to be done to overcome it. This is the principal reason Elevate addiction treatment programs last for 90-days with continued aftercare.

The components of effective aftercare drug treatment should include the following:

  • Outpatient drug and alcohol treatment scheduled at the individual’s convenience
  • Recovery support with individual, group and family therapy sessions
  • Sober living environments for those returning to enabling environments after rehab
  • Holistic therapies like aromatherapy, music & art therapy, meditation, and yoga
  • Fitness coaching and nutritional training
  • Access to support group meetings that resonate with the individual, (ie 12-Step meetings of AA or NA, secular or gender-specific)

The Benefits of Aftercare Drug Treatment

The most commonly cited benefit of aftercare is its potential to create a lifelong support network for people recovering from substance abuse. This common bond of support is invaluable in providing encouragement and motivation in recovery so that individuals are better able to protect their hard-earned sobriety. Aftercare support groups put recovering addicts in touch with others they can reach out to for advice and companionship, particularly if they are having a hard time.

Another key benefit of aftercare drug treatment is that it gives individuals extra confidence to continue in sobriety. Research shows that people thrive in recovery from addiction when they have access to therapeutic support. Elevate’s holistic approach to rehab and aftercare equips patients with vital coping mechanisms to protect them from relapses that also significantly improves overall well-being. Essentially, rehab is designed to prepare patients for recovery and an aftercare program to help them plan a strategy for managing their sobriety.

Because addiction is a relapsing illness, people can return to addictive behaviors and substance use and abuse even years after leaving rehab. A good aftercare program consolidates and reinforces everything that was worked through in rehab so that people are able to make the adjustment to a substance-free life with greater ease.