Making the decision to attend an alcohol rehab program is one of the most important steps for individuals seeking recovery from alcoholism. However, this is only the first step in the lifelong process of maintaining sobriety. Most individuals spend anywhere from 30 to 90 days in a treatment facility. For many, transitioning from the structure of alcohol rehab often proves to be challenging without the comfort of the protective environment and strict schedule of a rehab routine.
Fortunately, there are a variety of organizations, programs, fellowships, and resources available to recovering alcoholics looking to maintain lifelong sobriety. The goal of preparing a strong alcohol rehab aftercare plan will minimize the likelihood of relapse and cultivate a foundation for maintaining long-term sobriety.
Available Aftercare Programs
Participating in alcohol detox and rehabilitation often leads to individuals believing they are “cured” of their alcohol use disorder. However, these are just the initial phases of recovery. The goal of an alcohol rehabilitation program is to help clients identify the root causes of his/her addiction, give clients the tools to maintain abstinence, and connect individuals to support groups that advocate and promote sobriety.
Once an individual leaves the protective confines of an alcohol rehab program, he/she is susceptible to multiple triggers, challenges, and temptations that may lead to relapse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that relapse rates for individuals who participate in active treatment programs range from 40-60%. In fact, the American Association of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) reports that individuals who complete acute alcohol rehab programs without engaging in an aftercare program increase their chances of relapse by nearly 100%. Alcohol rehab aftercare programs are designed to help recovering individuals engage in ongoing assistance, instruction, and support in order to increase their chances of experiencing long-term recovery.
A solid alcohol rehab aftercare program should include several different components. Here are some essential therapies and organizations that are essential to developing effective aftercare treatment.
Facility-Based Alcohol Rehab Aftercare Programs
Most rehab facilities offer individualized aftercare programs. Oftentimes, these aftercare programs include sober-living arrangements, follow-up therapy, medical evaluations, intensive outpatient programs, and alumni support groups. These customizable aftercare plans are often constructed before an individual is discharged from the alcohol rehab facility. These types of aftercare programs often vary based on the specific treatment program you attend. Most alcohol rehabs will let the patient and their family know what aftercare services are available. However, it is always a good idea to contact the treatment facility if you are unsure of what services they offer.
Sober living homes are residential facilities, often affiliated with rehab facilities or government organizations, that offer a structured, safe, and sober environment for individuals recovering from substance abuse. Sober living homes are proven to increase the likelihood that an individual will maintain his/her sobriety. Most sober living homes offer temporary residence for a year or less, while others offer more long-term options.
If you decide to engage in sober living, it is likely that you will have a leader within your home who enforces rules and structures as the entire group of recovering alcoholics in the home operate collectively and democratically. Every sober living home has its own unique and helpful set of guidelines and characteristics. However, the most common guidelines for a sober living require all residents to maintain their sobriety, abide by curfews, and share certain expenses and responsibilities within the program.
Aftercare Therapy and Counseling
Inpatient rehab facilities often offer therapy and counseling sessions that are held daily and even sometimes for multiple hours and sessions throughout the day. These groups or individual therapy sessions are often the most critical components of the alcohol rehabilitation process. It is often suggested that newly sober alcoholics or addicts attend weekly therapy or counseling sessions to ensure an individual’s sobriety and overall well-being. Aftercare therapy and counseling are especially vital for recovering alcoholics who suffer from a dual-diagnosis with an underlying mental health condition, who require treatment for both. Some of the most popular alcohol rehab aftercare therapies and counseling for alcoholism include:
- Holistic Therapy
- Experiential Therapy
- Biofeedback Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT
- Faith-Based Therapy
- Motivational Enhancement Therapy
- Trauma therapy
Support groups are a necessary and beneficial component of recovery from alcoholism. Support groups are groups of recovering alcoholics (and drug addicts) that meet weekly to discuss shared issues. Many times, members of these groups will talk about how their alcoholism affected them and the people around them as well as how sobriety has changed their life for the better. Support groups provide a judgment-free atmosphere where individuals can relate, experience a sense of accountability, and cultivate friendships with other alcoholics. These meetings often are a direct source of advice and information.
Here’s what you should look for in an effective alcohol rehab aftercare program.
- Individualized aftercare plans
- Comprehensive treatment
- Continuous evaluations
- Evidence-based therapies
Most addiction support groups 12-Step programs. These programs often break down the experiences of individuals recovering from alcoholism. Alcoholics Anonymous is by far one of the most well-known substance abuse groups in the world. Studies show that regularly attending a support group increases the likelihood that a recovering alcoholic will maintain his/her sobriety. Engaging in a support group can substantially increase the likelihood that a recovering alcoholic will remain sober.
Alcoholism is a chronic disease of the brain. Studies show that more than 85% of individuals and return to drug or alcohol use within the first year of sobriety. This does not mean that alcohol treatment was ineffective, but rather it means it is important for an individual to establish a solid alcohol rehab aftercare plan before leaving treatment. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an effective aftercare plan that includes continuing care after treatment improves their chances of staying away from alcohol.