Completing treatment is a major accomplishment and typically acts as the foundation to ongoing recovery. Building a strong foundation is important, but does not guarantee success. The truth is, there is no way to guarantee success in recovery, but we can raise the odds. Aftercare is one of the most effective ways to enhance the probability of success.
When a person leaves structured treatment they are usually bombarded with a multitude of risk factors that can jeopardize their sobriety. Risk factors can include but are not limited to; old friends, previous jobs, patterns of behavior, emotional instability, and even living situations. Any one of these factors can have a devastatingly negative impact on a person’s recovery. Aftercare is a way to extend treatment support into a person’s everyday life. The aim is to give support and guidance that will reduce the risk factors a person is regularly exposed to.
Aftercare programs can vary based on the client’s needs. A compatible aftercare plan can often be the deciding factor in a client’s continued success.
The primary goal of aftercare is to prevent a relapse of drug abuse and/or alcoholism. By providing continued communication, individual counseling, group sessions and referrals, aftercare programs offer an extra level of guidance and accountability. Accountability can help to eliminate the risk factors that are extremely harmful while guidance can help a person cope with the ones that can’t be avoided.
A good aftercare program also provides support and guidance for family members. Unresolved familial issues can become a serious risk factor and must be addressed. Addressing these issues is difficult because of the tumultuous family history that potentially exists. Aftercare continues the healing process in a positive, appropriate, and healthy way.
Family members can also act as positive motivation for a person’s recovery. They can even be the reason a person wants to stay sober. Family members who use their influence in a positive way are instrumental to the client’s success. Aftercare helps families learn how to best support their loved one in recovery.
Finally, aftercare programs act as a connection between treatment and former clients. Returning to “normal living” after structured treatment is overwhelming. Dealing with life on life’s terms is new and foreign to people who have used drugs and alcohol for many years. Dealing with the pressure of change is difficult, and that is a risk factor in its own right. Keeping an open line of communication with an aftercare professional can help to absorb the shock of change while alleviating the pressures of daily life.