When you understand that addiction is a disease, it is easy to understand the need for aftercare following rehab.
Imagine a patient who suffered from a debilitating physical disease. Would she skip out of the doctor’s office and prance down the street? No. She would have an aftercare plan that included recreational therapy, physical therapy, or occupational therapy. These post-operative supportive measures would slowly give the patient her strength back as she recuperated.
When applying this concept to addiction recovery, it is easy to see the value of aftercare following completion of a residential rehab program. The person in early recovery may be in a “the pink cloud” – feeling fantastic, full of optimism and ready to reclaim their lives – only to encounter old triggers when returning to their regular life. Recovery tools, such as coping skills and stress management, take time to incorporate into daily life. People do not emerge from rehab with these new habits already formed; they take practice, leaving them vulnerable to relapse.
Aftercare In Recovery
Addiction treatment and recovery is a lifelong practice. Therapy in a residential treatment program is only the beginning of the therapeutic process. Aftercare in addiction recovery includes various options that can help to solidify and support patients’ recovery, in the first year or two especially.
By engaging in activities that reinforce sobriety, the chances of maintaining recovery are greatly increased. Individuals in early recovery will encounter speed bumps that will be emotionally overwhelming. That may lead them to reach for the substance they had worked so hard to overcome.
Aftercare options provide a safety net where the individual will receive peer and professional support to help deal with these stressors. There are a variety of aftercare activities or resources that can be considered while making the recovery plan best suited to each client’s individual needs.
No matter how confident a person is when completing a rehab program, it is important to remember that it is much easier to maintain sobriety in a structured, controlled rehab environment than out in the chaos of regular life. Aftercare services can help the newly recovering individual obtain resources and support necessary to stay clean, even in the face of stressors or triggers.
Individual Counseling – Regularly scheduled talk therapy and/or group therapy sessions provide a consistent source of ongoing support in recovery. The individual is sure to hit some snags as they transition back to community, family, and work. After leaving an inpatient rehab program and the constant psychological support that was available, having someone available to talk things over with, or from whom to learn more targeted coping skills, can be essential to recovery.
Family Counseling – In many cases, family issues may be factors that contributed to the use of drugs or alcohol and must be examined and treated if there is to be lasting sobriety. Once these have been identified through family therapy sessions, the therapist can offer specific strategies for improving communication skills, anger management, and conflict resolution. Family counseling also helps families rebuild trust and overcome anger and resentment caused by the addiction.
Additionally, a significant number of people struggle with both addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder, called a dual diagnosis. This may have been identified and somewhat treated during rehab, but follow up care with a psychiatrist who can manage medications for a coexisting mood disorder, as well as provide psychotherapy, will be beneficial to the success of recovery.
Here at Safe and Sound Counseling, we work with a wide range of emotional and behavioral issues providing services that span from therapy for depression and grief counseling to parenting support, couples counseling and beyond.