Creating an Effective Aftercare Plan

Substance abuse and addiction invade virtually every aspect of an individual’s life. When the addict reaches the point of choosing to receive treatment for alcohol and drug addiction, oftentimes the first step is to determine which type of recovery program the individual needs and find the drug treatment facility that’s most appropriate for him or her. While there are a number of factors that will affect and determine which is the best treatment for someone, the general rule of thumb is that longer periods of active addiction will require a more intensive form of treatment such as inpatient programs at residential treatment facilities. However, while the selection and completion of the initial addiction treatment are important, it’s of equal importance to plan for post-graduation treatment in the form of continued aftercare.

Treatment Programs for Alcohol and Drug Addiction

For those addicts who choose an inpatient or residential treatment program for addiction to alcohol and drugs, they will usually begin with a period of medically supervised detox, which is a period in which the addict experiences the most severe withdrawal upon abruptly ceasing consumption of the substance to which he or she is addicted. During the detox period, the chemical substances and any other toxins work their way out of the body, leaving the individual cleansed of alcohol and drugs. It’s important that individuals detox under medical supervision so that the withdrawal symptoms can be monitored to ensure that the individual is safe throughout the process; additionally, addicts often require nutritional supplements in order to restore the body to a state of health and it’s not uncommon for those experiencing intense withdrawal to require medical intervention in the form of medication in order to alleviate moderate to severe discomfort or pain.

After the detox period, the real addiction treatment begins. In an inpatient treatment program, this means that the individual lives on-site at the treatment center while participating in daily therapies and treatment that include, but aren’t limited to, individual counseling with professional psychotherapists, group sessions, family counseling, skills-building sessions, a variety of activities and recreation, alternative therapies, twelve-step and other support groups, and so on. Those in outpatient programs will typically participate in many of these same treatments, but instead of living in the treatment facility, they will continue living at home while incorporating addiction recovery into their existing schedule. However, no matter which type of recovery program in which an addict decides to participate, it’s important that he or she include aftercare planning as part of the development of an individualized recovery plan.

Alcohol and drug addiction treatment are incredibly important. Inpatient and outpatient programs are what get addicts on the right path by initiating their recovery after a period of financial instability, loneliness, declining health, and many other potential hardships. However, addicts often experience active addiction for a period of years or even decades, which means that the behavior that addictive behavior that has been reinforced for such a long period will require more than a month or even a couple of months of treatment for the individual to conquer. The initial period is when addicts learn many of the tools necessary to become sober, but aftercare is what allows addicts to sustain their recovery by harnessing and reinforcing those skills, fortifying their sobriety.

What Is Aftercare?

Even though completing an inpatient or outpatient recovery program is a major accomplishment and definitely something about which one should be proud, the fact remains that this is only the beginning of the long road toward sustained recovery. In fact, the initial period of treatment is only the beginning, and comparatively speaking it’s only a small part of the total course of addiction treatment. When an addict completes an inpatient or outpatient program, he or she transitions into a period of post-program continued treatment called aftercare. This continued treatment takes the form of a program that’s intended only for those individuals who have completed an initial treatment, picking up immediately after the initial treatment and typically takes the form on a continuation of the curriculum of the previous treatment program, such as individual counseling, skills-building, and other such therapies. Most aftercare programs require that an addict has remained abstinent for a minimum period and many also either encourage or require that the individual participates in a support group of some sort, such as becoming a member of a twelve-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

The Importance of Aftercare Planning

Planning for aftercare is an important part of the recovery progress. Individuals who are entering an inpatient or outpatient treatment program for alcohol and drug addiction should have included aftercare planning as part of the process of designing their individual recovery plans. Of the many reasons why aftercare planning is important, aftercare planning means that individuals already have plans for where they will go and the treatments they will continue upon completion of the initial inpatient or outpatient treatment program. For example, some individuals who have completed an inpatient program at a residential drug treatment center might feel insecure in their sobriety and unprepared for the return home despite continued aftercare; therefore, such individuals might incorporate a period at a sober living facility or halfway house prior to returning home as part of their individualized aftercare plan. As part of aftercare planning, the individual who intends to live for a period of time in a sober living facility will have already selected a facility and made the necessary arrangements so that when he or she finishes the final day of the inpatient treatment program, he or she can make a quick and easy move into the halfway house without having to scramble with forgotten preparations at the last minute.

What’s more, statistics show that continued treatment in the form of post-program aftercare tends to significantly decrease an individual’s risk of relapse back into addiction. As such, the success rates of recovery are much higher for those individuals who plan a sufficient and detailed aftercare regimen than for those who don’t participate in aftercare and those whose aftercare is insufficient in meeting their ongoing recovery needs.

If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction to alcohol or drugs, the Palm Beach Institute can help. Our team of professional recovery specialists can match those suffering from addiction to the programs that can put them on a lasting path toward health, sobriety, and fulfillment. Give us a call at (877) 663-0170 or contact us online.


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