Entering a substance abuse treatment programme and successfully completing it is a huge accomplishment, but it certainly doesn’t mean that your sobriety is guaranteed. Often, when an individual leaves a rehab centre they are reasonably motivated and confident about their future.
Granted, they have just made it through physical withdrawals and can now see how a life without substance abuse is possible. However, once they return to their normal day-to-day living, they may find that addiction recovery is a bit more challenging than they thought. Staying away from drug abuse and alcoholism is a lot harder in society than it is in an inpatient treatment programme. For one, there is ample support from both fellow addicts and counsellors in rehab.
Secondly, patients are protected from any temptations and the possibility of addiction relapse. Upon discharge, they are once again surrounded by temptations with no support from their peers, and the struggle to stay clean and away from their addicted behaviours becomes real. The truth is, addicts are at risk of relapsing back into substance abuse for weeks, months or even years after their substance abuse treatment.
This is why some type of aftercare treatment is required, particularly during the first couple of years of recovery.
What is Aftercare?
Aftercare refers to any interventions following initial treatment.
In the case of substance abuse treatment, it refers to the support given following discharge from a residential addiction treatment program.
This is often in the form of attending support groups and meetings such as Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous, and continued substance abuse counselling.
Aftercare and relapse prevention entails learning new coping strategies aimed at equipping addicts with the skills needed to help maintain their life of sobriety and minimise their risk of relapse.