Maintaining sobriety and preventing relapse can be challenging for individuals recovering from alcoholism. After completing a primary addiction recovery program, individuals need continued support, resources, and education to maintain long-term sobriety. This is where aftercare programs provide ongoing support, accountability, and essential resources for individuals to prevent relapse and maintain their sobriety. This article will discuss the importance of aftercare for recovery from alcoholism, the options available, and how to find the right aftercare program for your needs.
Alcoholism, known more formally as alcohol use disorder, is a complex and chronic disease resulting in the individual’s inability to exercise self-control over their drinking habits. Alcoholism is often the result of participating in consistent binge drinking or drinking excessive and often unsafe amounts of alcohol or a more steady intake of large amounts of alcohol over a more extended period.
Alcohol is well-known for making the person drinking feel a rush of pleasure and other enjoyable effects in the short term. Still, the adverse effects begin almost as quickly, making alcoholism a devastating disease.
What is Aftercare?
Once an individual has completed the first stage of alcohol use disorder treatment, they will have several options for continuing their alcohol abuse recovery. These are commonly referred to as aftercare programs. Detox is generally the first step for patients entering substance abuse treatment. Once safely detoxed from all substances, they will transition to another treatment program.
Sometimes, the next step is a step-down treatment program, such as inpatient programs, partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient programs, or outpatient programs. These programs allow someone to maintain a degree of structure in their lives while continuing the life skills development they’ll need for lifelong relapse prevention and long-term sobriety.
Aftercare programs will generally come after the patient has completed sufficient higher levels of treatment. Aftercare is also called continuing care. It is an individual’s collective support and counseling plan when leaving more formal treatment programs to help them recover.
Benefits of Aftercare Programs
Aftercare programs are considered essential components of effective addiction recovery. They are designed to provide continuing care, ongoing support, and vital resources in someone’s recovery to maintain their sobriety and reduce their relapse chances. Aftercare programs can have multiple components, including support groups, therapy, and more. Here are some of the most notable or significant benefits of participating in an aftercare program following completion of a primary addiction recovery program:
- Continuing support and accountability
- Access to resources, education, and tools that can help maintain sobriety
- Opportunities to continue developing healthier coping mechanisms for triggering situations or stress
- Opportunities to establish and grow a strong peer support system
- A sense of community, connection, and a bond with others in various stages of recovery
- A safe and open environment in which people can share and find support in their recovery journey
- Help and guidance in processing challenging feelings or emotions in their recovery
Types of Aftercare Options
Aftercare programs can comprise many activities, resources, and counseling to help individuals maintain sobriety. Each person’s aftercare plan will be unique to their needs. It may contain one or more of the following aftercare options. Everyone entering treatment for alcohol abuse must consider their recovery needs concerning the continuing care and support options available.
For individuals in recovery, regularly attending recovery meetings, like 12-step groups, is a common component of aftercare. These groups are designed to be safe places to communicate the emotions and challenges along the path to recovery. There are many support groups, but the most common are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
Working With A Sponsor
Working with a sponsor is another way to improve aftercare following addiction treatment. A sponsor has been in recovery successfully for some time and can help guide in a mentor/mentee situation for another individual in recovery. They can provide tips and camaraderie for those fresh out of treatment.
Sober Living Facilities
Many people entering treatment aren’t coming from safe or stable living environments. Since those places aren’t conducive to recovery, having a place where the patient can focus on sobriety is key. Sober living facilities come in different forms, but they provide a drug and alcohol-free living space for those on their recovery journey.
Ongoing Individual & Group Therapy
A significant factor in successful recovery is addressing latent or undiagnosed mental health challenges. While in recovery, there will be therapy, continuing therapy, and counseling afterward is essential to maintaining a solid recovery.
Establishing A Strong Support System
A strong support system can be established through aftercare programs. It can give individuals a much better overall chance at long-term sobriety. Studies have shown that support is essential for successful recovery.
The Importance of Aftercare in Maintaining Recovery from Alcoholism
The importance of aftercare, as well as its primary goal, is to help people exiting treatment programs maintain their recovery, even in the face of less structured days and more independence. Aftercare is commonly designed to help you continue to develop and begin to use the tools you developed in the treatment program to prevent relapse and encourage ongoing sobriety.
A case manager should help you create an aftercare plan when you’re approaching the end of your treatment program. Having a plan you’re likely to stick with is important because you will face a far lower risk of relapse when sticking to your aftercare plan.
Finding the Right Aftercare Program
If once you or a loved one leaves treatment, you are struggling to stay sober, it may be due to not having access to the right aftercare programs. Being honest with yourself and your recovery team is critical in recovery. It can help you get the aftercare treatments you need for an effective recovery. Contact Agape for more information on what aftercare programs may be the most effective for your addiction recovery needs, and begin a more stable journey today.
Stephanie Catalano is an accomplished Clinical Director at Agape Behavioral Healthcare. With a Master of Social Work degree, LCSW license, and extensive training in Rapid Resolution Therapy under her belt, she brings a wealth of expertise to her role. Her unique combination of education and experience allows her to provide exceptional care to clients and lead her team with confidence. Stephanie’s joy comes from witnessing the moments when her patients creatively connect the dots and bravely move toward reclaiming their power. Her purpose is to help individuals understand their past so they can create a future full of hope, growth, and success. Stephanie attributes a large portion of her success to the supportive culture and strong sense of community fostered by the Agape team.