The Importance of Addiction Aftercare
Addiction aftercare programs are an essential part of the recovery process for alcoholics and drug addicts. After an addict has completed the intense process of detox and rehabilitation during the first few weeks of treatment, aftercare may seem like a less intense process. Aftercare begins as soon as a recovering addict leaves the rehab center or finishes the initial stages of the recovery process. It is crucial to know the importance of addiction aftercare and begin a program early because the first few weeks spent independently can be a difficult time of trying to stay sober and avoiding relapse.
There are different types of aftercare and relapse prevention programs depending on what is best for the individual needs of the addict. Some programs are counselor-led groups of recovering addicts who meet weekly. These meetings provide much needed support from the counselor and group, and provide a social opportunity for recovering addicts to make new friends by forming close bonds with the other members. Transitional living is another option that benefits recovering addicts who are not ready to transition to independent living. It provides a living facility with other recovering addicts who have completed intensive in-patient rehabilitation. It is a safe, drug free environment where a recovering addict is given the time they need to prepare them self for independent living.
Why Some do not get Treatment
Millions of Americans are struggling with addiction and substance abuse, yet very few of these people are receiving the necessary treatment they need to get well. Most addicts do not receive treatment in a specialized rehab center and for those that do, they will also need aftercare. Living independently and staying sober is the challenge that recovering addicts face. Having to cope with cravings, triggers, strong emotions, problems and stress can all have a negative impact on an addict. Problems with money, jobs, family and friends can all be stressors that may provoke relapse. Relapse is recognized by addiction specialists as a characteristic symptom of addiction. Statistics show that 85 % of addicts will relapse within the first year after treatment. The rate of relapse decreases as each year passes, making aftercare a vital tool of defense against relapse.
When an addict suffers from co-occurring mental disorders, the problem is worse. Statistics reveal that there are approximately 9 million people in the U.S. that suffer with co-occurring mental disorders and substance abuse. About 8 percent of these people receive treatment for both disorders and half of the 9 million people receive no treatment at all for either disorder. Mental illness accounts for 30% more binge drinking among alcoholics, and exacerbates drug use among addicts.
Getting Treatment and Benefits of Aftercare
While in a recovery program, the addict learns how to manage cravings, triggers and stressors. They are also taught how to effectively cope with problems in a healthy way. Aftercare gives the added support they need to live independently and it also benefits the family of the addict. Family members will be taught different strategies that will help their loved one manage their life after rehab. They will learn the different mindsets and behaviors that are detrimental to the addict and which ones will help. Teenage addicts are usually facing the added stress of physical, mental and hormonal changes during this time in their life. Aftercare is flexible with a student’s academic schedule and also an adult’s work schedule. There is really no excuse to not attend aftercare, especially when there is so much to gain from it.
If an addict relapses it does not mean that he or the aftercare program is a failure. It just means that the addict has to get back on track. Remaining sober is an issue that should be addressed one day at a time. The support of an aftercare program helps an addict continue on their path to wellness. The addict will receive the psychological help that he needs to remain focused and committed on getting well and staying sober. Emotional problems such as anxiety, fears etc. are all addressed both individually and in the group. Statistics show that millions of recovering addicts are winning the battle of addiction by attending aftercare programs, showing the importance and success of this step in recovery.