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What Is Aftercare?

The Importance of Aftercare

One of the most important considerations that people need to put on their list of priorities when choosing a rehab will be the availability of aftercare. This is so important because if appropriate support is not there when the person returns home then there is a high risk that they will relapse or otherwise end up completely off track. Aftercare can refer to many different types of support, and what works for one person might not work for somebody else.

What is Aftercare?

Aftercare can refer to all of those treatments and resources that will be available to the individual once they return home after rehab. The most common type of aftercare that the individual is likely to turn to will include:

  • Outpatient group therapy sessions – this is where the individual meets with other people in recovery, and they discuss their experiences. These sessions are usually facilitated by a therapist.
  • One-to-one therapy – the individual can continue to see a therapist once they return home. This can be one of the key workers from rehab or a therapist that they will arrange privately.
  • Rehab booster sessions – these can involve returning to rehab for a few days in order to give recovery a boost. These sessions may take place after the individual has been back home for a significant period of time – often 12 months. The good thing about sessions is that they really can give the individual a lift, but booster sessions are not something that most rehabs currently provide.
  • Recovery fellowship meetings – this would include the 12 Step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
  • Online recovery communities – a growing number of people are turning to online recovery communities for support in recovery. It is best not to replace real life encounters with online resources, but this option can be fantastic as an additional means of support.

There are many other types of aftercare available, but these are the ones that the individual is most likely to come in contact with.

The Importance of Aftercare

It is probably impossible to overstate the need for aftercare once people leave rehab. One of the most common reasons for why people relapse after they return home is that they feel unable to cope, and the reason for why they feel unable to cope is that they did not have appropriate aftercare. This type of continued treatment is vital because:

  • It is often claimed that recovery is a process and not an event. What this means is that the individual is not cured as soon as they stop drinking or using drugs. There is no real graduation day from rehab, and it would be more realistic to say that this is just the beginning of the journey into recovery. If the person is not ready to continue their journey into recovery by having adequate aftercare, they will be at high risk of relapse.
  • One of the most dangerous things that can happen to people is that they become stuck. When the individual stops making progress, they will find that life feels unsatisfying, and they may turn to maladaptive behaviours or return to addiction in order to escape this dissatisfaction. In order to keep making progress in recovery, the individual will need to make use of the aftercare resources available.
  • The time when the person will be most at risk of relapse is during that initial transition from rehab to home. They will be moving from an environment where they are supported and protected to one where they are faced with familiar temptations. This is a rocky time in the person’s recovery, and they will usually need plenty of support in order to make it through this period.
  • It is often said that time heals all wounds, but this can be a curse for those who are dealing with addiction problems. The problem is that those who forget their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. As time goes by, the individual can forget how bad things were during their years of addiction, and they can begin to glamorise their former life – this is often referred to as romancing the drink or drug. It is vital that the individual remembers how bad things were so that they can avoid making the same mistakes. One of the ways that they do this is by recovery aftercare.
  • The first year or of recovery is often referred to as an emotional rollercoaster.
    The individual will be getting used to dealing with their feelings again without the numbness of alcohol or drugs, and this can take a bit of getting used to. In order to deal with these emotional swings, the individual is likely to need plenty of support.
  • In order to make progress in recovery, it can be a help to learn from the successes and failures of those who have already taken this path. One of the great benefits of aftercare is that it allows the individual to keep on learning from these people.
  • Another benefit of aftercare is that it will usually provide the individual with the opportunity to begin building a sober social network. This is important because they will have needed to break away from their drug using friends.

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