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  • When you leave addiction treatment, you should be free from substance abuse and ready for a more fulfilling life. But recovery doesn’t end when a rehab program is over. It’s a lifelong process that requires dedication, support, and continuing care.

    Aftercare for addiction recovery offers support services to help you continue your recovery and make a successful transition back to a “normal” life.

    What Is Aftercare?

    Aftercare is a variety of services that follows an alcohol or drug rehab program. The focus of these services is relapse prevention. While addiction treatment prepares you to resist substance abuse, aftercare helps you implement relapse prevention techniques in the real world.

    Depending on your personal needs, an aftercare program can last for a few months or over a year. It may include:

    Types Of Aftercare

    There are several types of aftercare services. They range from occasional check-ins to regular participation in an outpatient rehab program. Some of them can be combined to give you the best chance at success in recovery.

    Outpatient Rehab Programs

    The most intensive type of aftercare is an outpatient rehab program. There are three main levels of outpatient care: 

    • Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs) may require you to be at the treatment for 4-6 hours a day on 3-5 days per week. They use many of the same methods as residential treatment, such as behavioral therapy, stress management, and exercise.
    • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) require less of a time commitment than PHPs, such as 2-4 hours a day on 3-4 days per week. They may focus on behavioral health and counseling, but can also include things like art therapy and yoga.
    • Standard Outpatient Programs may only meet once or twice a week. They reinforce the coping techniques you learned in treatment through group therapy, counseling, and other treatment options.

    Standalone substance abuse counseling may be considered the lowest level of outpatient care. Counseling can help you work through issues connected to substance abuse rather than turning to drugs or alcohol when problems arise.

    12-Step Programs & Support Groups

    Many inpatient rehab centers use 12-step programs as part of the healing process. These programs can also stand alone, as with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). 

    In a 12-step aftercare program, you meet regularly with a support group to discuss your struggles and progress through the 12 steps to recovery (which you may have started in rehab). You’ll have a “sponsor,” or someone who holds you accountable to remain sober. 

    Other types of support groups are available as well. You may attend a group that targets specific triggers to addiction in your life, such as anger management or trauma support.

    Sober Living Homes

    It can be jolting to return to your home environment after rehab, especially if it’s unstable and you don’t have a strong support network. Sober living homes offer a substance-free setting where you can rebuild your life alongside other people in recovery.

    Sometimes called “halfway homes,” sober residences bridge the gap between rehab and home life. They encourage independent living but give you access to continued care for addiction. Some provide transportation to 12-step meetings; others are reserved for people who are in PHP or IOP.

    Learn more about Sober-Living Homes

    Other Aftercare Services

    Whether you’re in an outpatient program, sober home, or living on your own, a rehab center may offer aftercare services that follow-up treatment to ensure your recovery.

    Aftercare services may include:

    • phone check-ins to see how you’re doing after rehab
    • a support hotline you can call when you’re worried about relapse
    • online or in-person support groups
    • weekly or monthly alumni events that bring together people in recovery
    • academic support so you can complete schooling
    • legal advice if you have legal issues or criminal charges
    • help with finances (budgeting, etc.) 
    • vocational training so you can find a steady job
    • mentors to coach you on setting goals for the future
    • family counseling and therapy
      • case management

    Aftercare doesn’t just help you prevent relapse by reminding you what you learned in rehab, it can also help you build a better life for yourself and your family. 

    Do I Need Aftercare?

    A lot of rehab programs are short-term, lasting 30 days or less. For many people, 30 days isn’t enough time to recover physically and mentally from addiction. It’s more of a foundation that you need to keep building on after treatment, which you can do through aftercare.

    Avoiding substance abuse tends to be easier in rehab than at home, especially if you’re in an inpatient rehab program. At home, you may come in contact with triggers, such as a stressful relationship or a person who uses drugs or alcohol.

    As many as 40 to 60 percent of people relapse after stopping substance abuse. If you have a strong support network at home, you have a lower risk of relapse. But even if friends and family members are there for you, they can’t always offer the amount or type of support you need.

    No matter which level of aftercare you choose, you’ll be working with trained professionals who want to help you overcome addiction for good.

    Finding Aftercare For Addiction Recovery

    Many alcohol and drug rehab centers offer aftercare services. Long-term inpatient rehab centers may provide step-down levels of care, which allow you to transition out of treatment through outpatient programs that decrease in intensity. 

    Outpatient rehab centers may also offer lower-level services outside of their standard treatment programs.

    You can work with a therapist to determine which type of aftercare is best for you, based on:

    • your progress in addiction treatment
    • the severity of your addiction
    • your history of relapse
    • if you have a co-occurring mental illness
    • your unique needs (such as vocational training or family counseling)

    You can alter your aftercare plan as time goes on. If you need more support, less support, or a different type of aftercare, discuss it with your therapist to make the necessary adjustment. 

    To learn more about aftercare for addiction recovery, speak with an Ark Behavioral Health treatment specialist today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
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