The Purpose of Aftercare

What is the Purpose of an Aftercare Program Following Drug Rehab?

Recovery from addiction is a complex process that doesn’t end with detox and rehab.  It is a long-term commitment that a person faces anew each day.  The challenges are endless, and the individual in recovery needs all the support he or she can get.  For that reason, the purpose of aftercare is to help someone reintegrate into society and avoid relapse.

What is Aftercare and Why is it Important?

“Aftercare” is a term used to describe ongoing support and guidance for individuals who have completed rehab.   Adjusting to life can seem overwhelming after leaving the structured environment of rehab.  Also, many people don’t have a supportive family to help them adapt.  The purpose of aftercare is to provide ongoing encouragement, counseling, and support a recovering individual needs during this sensitive time.

Different Types of Aftercare Programs are Available

Aftercare programs vary in the services they provide. Each person has their own specific needs after rehab, and programs are available that focus on those needs.  Here are the different aftercare programs a person can choose:

  • Facility-based programs – In some cases, rehab facilities operate their own aftercare programs.  These can include follow-up therapy, medical evaluations, alumni support groups, or sober-living homes.  During rehab, counselors work with patients to outline an aftercare program that can begin immediately after leaving treatment.
  • Sober living homes – Generally, sober-living homes are residential facilities for people recovering from substance abuse.  Some of the homes are affiliated with a rehab facility or government organization.  Others are independently owned and operated.  The purpose of aftercare in a sober-living home is to provide a structured, drug-free environment.  Also, the homes have a leader, and residents must abide by curfews and other guidelines such as remaining sober and maintaining employment.
  • Self-help support groups – People in recovery are strongly encouraged to attend support group meetings.  Some of the benefits include a sense of stability, a source of advice and information, and a judgment-free atmosphere with like-minded individuals.  Most self-help groups are classified as 12-step programs, although there are other types of groups available.  Of course, the key is that regular attendance keeps a person focused and helps them feel that they are not alone.
  • Therapy and counseling – Regularly scheduled counseling and therapy sessions help those in recovery continue the crucial daily sessions they were accustomed to in rehab.  In the beginning, the sessions may be held weekly.  Over time, the sessions are bi-weekly or monthly as the individual progresses.

Sobriety is a continuous chain of decisions and actions a person in recovery must make daily.  However, there is good news.  Recovery gets easier as new habits, relationships, and routines are formed.

Understanding the Purpose of Aftercare

Furthermore, the purpose of aftercare is to help an individual learn to take responsibility for their future.  Specific guidelines serve as a step-by-step timeline as to when certain goals should be reached.  For instance:

  • Within 30 days after rehab
    • Set goals and how to achieve them.
    • Learn to recognize and respond to negative impulses.
    • Find supportive, healthy living arrangements.
    • Establish a daily routine or schedule.
    • Find and attend at least two different support groups.
    • Meet with a counselor or therapist.
    • Establish a support system to turn to when triggers appear.
    • Get regular exercise or other physical activity.
  • 30 – 90 days after rehab:
    • Continue regular support group meetings at least once a week.
    • Continue counseling or therapy at least once a week.
    • Keep a journal of daily challenges and how you responded.
  • 90 – 180 days after rehab:
    • Work on repairing damaged or broken relationships
    • Talk to a financial planner to develop short or long-term goals.
    • Begin focusing on long-term goals.
    • Experiment with new hobbies or increase focus on one or several.
  • 180 – 365 days after rehab:
    • Celebrate the goals achieved or milestones reached.
    • Pay it forward by helping others who are beginning their own recovery journey.
    • Seek new motivation and ways to spend your time sober.
    • Set 5 or 10-year personal, financial, and professional goals.

These guidelines will give you a preview of the purpose of aftercare.  However, each program differs in its methodologies.  Overall, the purpose of aftercare is to help you reclaim your place in society and enjoy a substance-free lifestyle.

What Happens if You Relapse During Aftercare?

No doubt, maintaining sobriety is not easy, and many people suffer a relapse within the first year after leaving rehab.  Keep in mind that relapse does not mean you have failed.  However, it may be an indication that you need to reenter rehab for awhile.

So, if you have relapsed and need to enter treatment, contact us at Awakenings Rehabilitation today.  Or, if you know someone who is still struggling with addiction, we can help.

Sources: – Treatment and Recovery – Programs for Recovering Alcoholics in Aftercare


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