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Although the decision to seek treatment is the first and often most challenging one that many struggling with addiction will face, it is often not the last. Successful completion of a thirty, sixty, or ninety-day comprehensive addiction treatment program is essential to attaining sobriety and improving your chances of long-term recovery. During treatment, you will learn and explore the issues that lie at the root of your addiction. You will also learn safe and healthy ways to evaluate and change the negative thought and behavior patterns that continue to propagate addictive behaviors. However, once treatment is complete, what are the next steps? 

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Understanding Aftercare

An Introduction

Aftercare is an essential part of your comprehensive treatment plan. Proper aftercare will help someone recovering from addiction slowly and safely transition back to their daily obligations and responsibilities such as work, academics, or family,  with a high level of support. Without aftercare planning, those recovering from addiction sometimes struggle with isolation and other challenges related to how sobriety has changed how they respond to triggers, other stressors, and even their day-to-day activities. These challenges and triggers often lead to relapse. 

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What are the Benefits of Aftercare?

Addiction is a disease. For many, it is a disease characterized by bumps, setbacks, and instances of relapse on the road to recovery. Addiction does not have a cure; however, with a comprehensive addiction treatment program and a robust aftercare program, sobriety and long-term recovery are within reach. If you are just starting out on your recovery journey, let the team at My Recovery Source help you discover the best treatment program for you. Suppose you are new to recovery and looking for additional aftercare options aside from those arranged through your treatment program. In that case, My Recovery Source can provide guidance towards programs in your area as well. 

Aftercare is a vital component in preventing relapse. To be most effective, one should transition directly to aftercare programs immediately after completing their addiction treatment program (or when the individual returns home to their “normal life”). Relapse prevention or aftercare supports are designed to create a supportive and comfortable environment where recovering addicts can speak openly about their feelings, struggles, temptations, and strengths throughout the recovery process. Staying connected to the recovery community and support system that the person has become comfortable with is one of the number one ways to remain sober and prevent relapse as the level of support provided during addiction treatment is reduced. 

Aftercare programs also help recovering addicts to be open about thoughts, temptations, and inevitable slip ups. The sooner one can admit they are struggling or have relapsed, the sooner they will be able to get back into treatment and back on the path to recovery. The support groups and social circles developed as part of involvement in various aftercare programs provide a recovering addict with safe and healthy outlets to disclose their fears and concerns. It also provides a network of supportive, like-minded individuals who can help them get back on track. 

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What to Expect in Aftercare?

Aftercare plans are unique and individualized plans put into place at the end of a thirty, sixty, or ninety-day primary treatment program. Proper aftercare plans are designed based on the specific needs of the individual to help them navigate life after addiction and addiction treatment. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a successful aftercare plan supports ongoing recovery by using evidence-based practices and a range of services designed to help maintain motivation and momentum as one moves forward in sobriety. 

Although aftercare programs differ due to their unique design, there are common elements found across all programs. A typical aftercare program will include ongoing therapy. Depending on one’s specific needs, this may consist of individual therapy sessions, group or family sessions, or a combination of the above. Another essential component of aftercare consists of participation in support group meetings. Examples of these include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), among others. Attending these groups provides recovering addicts an outlet to discuss their struggles in sobriety with a group of peers also in various stages of recovery. Also, they provide a means for developing new, healthy social circles. Depending on the plan and the individual’s needs, other components may be added to an aftercare plan to help ensure comprehensive support. Some examples may include staying in a sober living environment, mental health monitoring, relapse prevention medication management, and ongoing medical support. Some aftercare programs also work with participants to pursue continuing education, secure permanent employment, and find safe housing. 

Relapse is an all to frequent part of recovery. Data indicates as many as sixty percent of recovering addicts will experience at least one incidence of relapse after completing addiction treatment. Because of this, some elements of an aftercare plan may require random drug or alcohol testing. This is especially true of programs providing transitional housing (sober living homes or “halfway houses”) and those providing medication administration services. How often and at what frequency tests are conducted will depend on the program’s nature and guidelines. Such testing aims to ensure other participants in the program remain safe and potentially identify participants who are at risk for (or who are experiencing) relapse as soon as possible to ensure a quick and safe return to treatment.

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Find the Best Aftercare Rehab Program

Aftercare rehab programs are an essential element of ongoing recovery. Many who complete an addiction treatment program are not yet ready to move forwards without a strong support structure in place upon leaving a treatment facility. Although many treatment programs will include aftercare planning as part of their planning, there may be elements missing, or there may be services of interest in your area that were not part of an original plan. If you have questions about how an aftercare rehab program can help you maintain ongoing sobriety in recovery, reach out to the team at My Recovery Source today. Let us help you find the best aftercare rehab program in your area where you can continue on your sobriety journey. 

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