Aftercare A Must In Addiction Recovery

By Marlene Passell

It is tempting for those who have made it through an addiction treatment program to conclude that their problems are over. Getting help for an addiction is a great achievement, but it is not the end of the story.

National statistics show that up to 50% of those who make it through an addiction treatment program will later relapse. This is a depressing fact, but the good news is that relapse is preventable.

The highest risk of relapse is during the first 60 days following discharge from a rehab. This risk remains high for the first five years of recovery, according to national experts.

Staying off alcohol or drugs is harder in the outside world then it is in a residential treatment facility. There is a lot of support in rehab and the individual is protected from temptation. A return to normalcy can come as a shock. The individual is once again surrounded by temptation and they now lack the support found in rehab. It can be a real struggle not to be drawn back to familiar behavior.

Those who receive some type of aftercare are less likely to relapse and more likely to live longer, according to the National Recovery Center. This aftercare can keep the individual motivated and provide support when things get difficult. The individual who goes through a treatment facility will pick up a lot of knowledge and skills, but most of the learning needs to occur during normal everyday living.

The Causes of Relapse

When the individual leaves a treatment facility they will usually be highly motivated and confident about the future. They have made it through physical withdrawals and a can now see how a life without substance abuse is possible. Their self-efficacy is high.

They should rightly feel proud of their achievement. Once they return to normal living though, they can find that recovery is more of a challenge.

Staying off alcohol or drugs is harder in the outside world. There is a lot of support in rehab and the individual is protected from temptation. A return to normalcy can come as a shock. The individual is once again surrounded by temptation and can lack the support found in rehab. It can be a real struggle not to be drawn back to familiar behavior.

Coping Strategies Needed in Recovery

There are a number of reasons why people relapse after a period of recovery. Motivation can wane if there is not a concerted effort to keep focused on living free of alcohol and drugs. The individual can begin to feel that their problems are behind them and that no special effort is required to stay sober.

They then forget the reasons that drove them into recovery in the first place.

Another reason why people relapse is that they fail to pick up the necessary coping strategies needed to live comfortably in recovery. Life will always have ups and downs and the individual needs to be able to handle both. If the individual just gets sober without developing new ways of coping, they will continue to struggle and may relapse.

The Importance of Aftercare

Those who receive some type of aftercare are less likely to relapse and more likely to live longer. This aftercare can keep the individual motivated and provide support when things get difficult. The individual who goes through a treatment facility will pick up a lot of knowledge and skills, but most of the learning needs to occur during normal everyday living. As the person in recovery is faced with new problems, they will be encouraged to find new solutions.

Those who return to substance abuse tend to follow a certain pattern called the relapse process. This begins with becoming stuck in recovery. This process leading to relapse can be stopped at any time and aftercare is the most effective way of doing this.

Those who continue to receive support are far more aware of relapse triggers. They are also more likely to spot the warning signs that they are moving towards a relapse.

Types of Aftercare

Twelve Step Groups are the most well-known of all the aftercare options. The members are encouraged to attend regularly for the rest of their lives. Depending on the degree of need, some treatment centers offer outpatient and intensive outpatient programs. These sessions will have the effect of renewing the individual’s motivation and reducing the risk of relapse.

Dual diagnosis support is required when an individual has another mental health problem as well as their addiction. A lot of addicts can also suffer from depression or other types of mental problems that need addressing. Failure to treat a dual diagnosis will mean that life in recovery is unsatisfactory and can easily lead to relapse.

Marlene Passell is the marketing & communications manager for Wayside House in Delray Beach, FL, a residential program for women with addictions. www.waysidehouse.net