Getting through drug rehab can be challenging, exciting and more than a little scary. In a supportive residential or outpatient setting, surrounded by counselors and sober clients, it’s easy to focus solely on your recovery and stay on track with your goals. But in the world outside of rehab, relapse is a common phenomenon. According to statistics from Alcohol and Alcoholism, up to 46 percent of alcoholics relapse six months after receiving inpatient treatment, and up to 48 percent relapse within six months after rehabilitating in an outpatient program. The Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that long-term recovery rates from methamphetamine addiction may be less than 10 percent.
 
What can you do to make sure that the skills you learn and the goals you set stay with you after you graduate from drug/alcohol detox?
 
Aftercare could be the answer. The risk of relapse is a reality that alcoholics and drug addicts live with daily, even after years of sobriety, but if the practices of recovery continue to be part of your life, the risk of a permanent relapse may be much lower. From the time you start searching for a rehab program, look for a facility that will provide support not only during detox and the initial stages of recovery, but after you leave the treatment center.

 

COMPONENTS OF EFFECTIVE AFTERCARE
 
The purpose of aftercare isn’t just to keep you from backsliding, but to help you continue to grow and become a stronger person in sobriety. Post-rehab services may include:
 
• Sober living residences where you can live and work in the community while remaining in a drug-free, alcohol-free environment
• Individual counseling to address anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or other co-existing mental health disorders
• Medication therapy with prescription drugs like Antabuse, Suboxone or Campral to help you stay abstinent
• Life skills classes to help you get reintegrated into the community as a clean and sober person
• Group therapy programs, like 12-step meetings, to sustain your motivation and help you learn new coping strategies
• Family or relationship counseling to continue building healthier relationships with your loved ones
• Job placement assistance to help you develop a more secure, financially stable life
• Assistance with legal matters if you are completing a court-ordered drug diversion program
• Aftercare services are available on an outpatient basis, either through the treatment center where you attended rehab or through a day center in your community.

 

RELAPSE PREVENTION SKILLS

During your drug rehab program, you’ll learn how to handle high-risk situations that leave you vulnerable to a relapse. But learning about these situations in the supportive setting of a treatment center is very different from confronting those same situations in your daily life. At your aftercare meetings, you can talk about your experiences, discuss strategies for coping with real-world problems and learn from your fellow participants. As you progress through the stages of recovery, you’ll learn how to:
 

  • Manage the emotions that increase your risk of a relapse (according to Alcohol Research & Health, both positive and negative emotions make you vulnerable to drinking and using)
  • Handle social situations where you feel pressured to use alcohol or drugs
  • Choose friendships and activities that support your newly sober lifestyle
  • Find work or housing situations that help you transition from rehab to the real world
  • Prevent a minor backsliding incident, such as having one drink, from turning into a long-term relapse
  • Addiction has been compared to chronic diseases like diabetes; hypertension and arthritis; in that people who are afflicted with this condition have a tendency to backslide in their treatment plans.
  • Just as a person with high blood pressure may skip their medication or overindulge in salty foods, a recovering addict may revert to his or her old behaviors. The support system that you build in aftercare will help you pick yourself up and resume your treatment plan if you have a temporary slip.
     

    TWELVE-STEP AFTERCARE

    Twelve-step programs are available throughout the world, and many drug rehab programs begin to teach the principles of the 12 steps in the early stages of recovery. After rehab, groups like Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous offer support, sponsorship and recovery strategies with no membership fee. Based on the tenets of Alcoholics Anonymous, 12-step groups operate on the principle that addiction is a physical and spiritual disease; however, the programs are non-denominational, and each member is free to seek help from a higher power of his or her choosing.