What is Relapse Prevention and Aftercare?

To achieve full recovery from a substance use disorder and co-occurring mental health and medical disorders, it is essential that you undertake relapse prevention and aftercare in the long term. This is because recovery should be a long term process that you need to continue working through even after you have checked out of a drug and alcohol rehab program. Read on to learn more:

Understanding Addiction Recovery

Often, addiction recovery involves a wide variety of processes that you have to undertake once you have been discharged from a treatment facility. It often involves both relapse prevention and aftercare.

Essentially, aftercare refers to the ongoing care that you will receive after leaving rehab. It typically comes in the form of sober living, counseling, therapy, outpatient care and treatment, and 12 step support group meetings.

Relapse prevention, on the other hand, involves the steps that you need to take to ensure that you do not start abusing drugs and drinking alcohol after being discharged from an addiction treatment program.

By developing a proper relapse prevention and aftercare plan, you will be able to anticipate some of the challenges to sobriety that you are likely to encounter in the future. The plan will also involve creating solutions to these challenges in advance.

You can also count on your friends and family to support you during your post-treatment period. For instance, they could participate in self-help group meetings, celebrate the little successes that you achieve, and continue encouraging you to develop and solidify new, healthy habits.

Defining Relapse Prevention and Aftercare

As we mentioned earlier, relapse prevention and aftercare refers to the plan that you will create to support you during your early recovery so that you do not go back to using drugs or drinking alcohol. The goal of most of these plans is to prevent you from relapsing as well as get you the help that you are going to need as you work towards your life goals.

Often, aftercare plans will include resources, interventions, and activities to help you cope with cravings, stress, and triggers that you might encounter once your treatment program has come to an end.

These plans will vary based on your unique needs and requirements. However, it might include some staples, such as:

  • Attending group and individual counseling and therapy sessions
  • Attending recovery meetings, such as 12 step support group meetings
  • Participating in the alumni program run by your addiction treatment center
  • Reaching out to sponsors and other members of a sobriety support group system
  • Staying in a sober living facility for a given time period

It is important that you create a proper aftercare plan. This is because there is a high likelihood that you will face difficulties and challenges when you are making the transition from a drug rehab program to normal, everyday living.

Research studies have also pointed out the fact that your risk of relapse would be highest during the first couple of months of your recovery. In particular, 40 to 60 percent of people in addiction recovery relapse at one point or the other - much in the same way as people who are dealing with asthma, hypertension, and type 1 diabetes.

By developing a solid aftercare plan for your earlier recovery period, you can reduce your risk of relapse. The plan could, for instance, providing you with a support network. Further, you could count on it to help you continue working on the issues linked to your substance abuse and addiction.

After you have started establishing your recovery and sobriety, you might be able to get the chance to support other people who are new to sobriety. Offering this type of help and support could further safeguard your own recovery.

Creating Relapse Prevention and Aftercare Plans

Once your time in a treatment program has come to an end, you may be required to work with case managers, counselors, and therapists to create a proper relapse prevention and aftercare plan. However, you can also liaise with external addiction treatment professionals and therapists to come up with such a plan.

In the process, the therapists and treatment professionals will help you think clearly and lucidly about the situation in which you find yourself. For instance, they could help you find appropriate employment, housing, and continued treatment. Additionally, the plan you create will depend on your rate of recovery and how long or how often you might require additional care.

This process could make it easier for you to be aware of all your needs, requirements, and preferences. After that, you can work with therapists to locate resources within the community and over the internet so that you can work through these issues.

For instance, if the environment in your own would not be conducive to your recovery, your relapse prevention and aftercare team could help you locate an appropriate sober or transitional living facility where you can stay during the earlier stages of your recovery.

The duration of the relapse prevention and aftercare plan will largely depend on your particular needs for recovery. For instance, you might spend several weeks or months in recovery, or extend the period to more than a year.

Most addiction treatment professionals would advise that you continue engaging actively in your relapse prevention and aftercare for a minimum of 12 months if you are an adult. Teenagers, on the other hand, might require these services for much longer.

You might also have to continue modifying your aftercare and relapse prevention plan through the course of time to meet your changing goals and needs for recovery. This is a crucial aspect of attaining sobriety that you should not forget.

Introducing Alumni Programs

Most inpatient and residential addiction treatment programs would have an alumni program. These programs are comprised of people who have already been through the treatment program and successfully achieved sobriety and recovery.

The goal of alumni programs is to provide these former patients with the help that they need to face and overcome any challenges that they might encounter on the journey to recovery.

Additionally, alumni programs can provide you with the support and tools you need to be able to cope with your new life of recovery as you make the transition from the treatment center to your home environment. Typically, addiction alumni programs will offer the following:

  • Check-ins in person or over the telephone
  • Monthly or weekly sober events
  • Online support through massage boards, email, and social media
  • Telephone hotlines that you can call any time you need additional support

The primary goal of an alumni program would be to connect you with the continued support that you need during your recovery journey. The in-person events, for instance, will give you the opportunity to meet up with other people trying to achieve sobriety.

During these events, you can discuss your struggles and experiences in recovery as well as receive encouragement and advice that could prove useful in helping you overcome these challenges.

Additionally, the events might require you to participate in sober activities that could help you learn how to start enjoying your life without resorting to the use of intoxicating and mind altering substances.

As part of relapse prevention and aftercare, alumni programs are unlike typical treatment programs in the sense that they will continue providing their services for longer time periods. Some might even run as long as you need to achieve full, stable sobriety.

By participating in an alumni program and ensuring that you are active, you might get the help that you need to maintain your strength during your recovery journey. In the long run, this could prove useful in ensuring that you do not relapse in the future.

Most of these programs would also have a coordinator or director who can offer you additional information and answer any questions that you have. Further, the program might continue reaching out to you even after you have checked out of the addiction treatment and rehabilitation program.

Sober Living Homes

It is essential that you live in a sober and stable environment once you get started on your addiction recovery and sobriety. Staying in an environment that provides you with opportunity to use drugs or drink alcohol could prove to be detrimental to your progress in recovery.

In case you are worried that this might be the case in your home, you should consider enrolling in a sober living home - also known as a transitional living facility - once you check out of your drug rehab.

These homes and facilities are alcohol and drug free residences that will provide you with a supportive and safe environment for your recovery. The primary goal of sober living facilities is to allow you to start building up on your resources so that you can make the transition between treatment and independent living.

Getting Help

Over the long term, relapse prevention and aftercare can reduce your risk of being tempted and giving in to substance abuse. As long as you make a solid plan with your addiction treatment professionals, you should be able to prevent yourself from starting to use drugs and drink alcohol after checking out of a rehab program.






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