How to Find an Aftercare Program Near Me?
Like other chronic conditions and illnesses, alcohol abuse has periods of remission and relapse. This also means that it’s possible to keep it at bay for a long time with the right kind of treatment and maintenance. After evaluating the symptoms and determining the diagnosis, patients receive treatment designed to keep their illness under control. However, the symptoms can return after a longer or shorter period of remission.1, 2
For someone trying to achieve lifelong recovery from alcohol abuse, personalized, science-based treatment, and appropriate aftercare is crucial. Various aftercare programs can help patients lower their odds of falling back into old patterns and relapsing after successfully completing addiction treatment.1
What is Aftercare?
An aftercare program is the final stage of any alcohol or drug addiction treatment. After the initial steps of detoxification and withdrawal, patients go through individually tailored treatments for their alcohol abuse. High-quality rehab centers make sure to prepare an aftercare plan for their patients before dismissing them from treatment. Aftercare plans are meant to keep people on track and help them stay sober after they leave an inpatient facility or finish their outpatient treatment program.3
Duration of substance abuse treatment plans can vary significantly, depending on the alcohol abuse or addiction severity, previous rehab attempts, or history of relapse. People who went through more extended inpatient programs may have difficulty transitioning back to their usual environment. That’s where a thoroughly thought-out aftercare plan can make all the difference.4
Just like recovery treatment is tailored according to the individual needs of each patient, so are the aftercare plans. Different people need different types of support and help after they complete their treatment. This may depend on the following:5
- The environment they live in.
- Their usual lifestyle.
- Socioeconomic status.
- Whether they have a history of relapse.
- The type of support system they have in family and close friends.
These circumstances will influence the substance abuse experts’ recommendations regarding each individual’s aftercare plan.5
Why Is Aftercare Important for Alcohol Addiction Recovery?
Even though more extended treatment programs are considered the most effective for achieving long-term recovery, most patients spend about one to three months in rehab. This could be sufficient for initial recovery, depending on the severity of addiction, but completing treatment doesn’t make alcohol abuse issues, temptations, and triggers magically disappear forever.3
Prolonged alcohol or drug use can cause permanent changes to the brain, and completing treatment doesn’t reverse them instantly. This is why a carefully designed addiction aftercare program is necessary in some cases.3, 6
An aftercare program‘s main benefit is preventing relapse, of course. It does so by helping patients become more self-reliant when they return to their everyday lives. It’s also a way to keep having a support network after their rehab program is over. Aftercare programs usually provide patients with emotional and mental health support, help them take care of their physical health, and keep them committed to lasting sobriety while dealing with the stressors of everyday life in a healthier way.4, 7
What Types of Aftercare Programs Are Available?
Similarly to different and tailored addiction treatments, there are also several different types of aftercare program elements. Patients will usually get a recommendation from their substance abuse treatment provider after leaving the rehab facility or completing outpatient treatment. Therefore, patients can make the most out of several programs, depending on their needs.5
The most commonly offered aftercare programs include:3, 8, 9
- Facility-Based Programs. Many substance abuse facilities provide their own programs to their patients after the completion of therapy. These programs are also called alumni programs. They offer numerous services, including sober living, temporary housing, regular medical and mental health evaluation, follow-up therapy, and support groups.
- Sober living is one of the aftercare programs that help ease the transition from the inpatient facility to everyday life. However, some people may not be ready to return to their old environment, which could potentially trigger a relapse. Some sober living homes are rehab facility affiliated, while others are funded by government agencies or organizations. Most of them offer temporary stays, but some can provide long-term options.
Studies show that staying at a sober living home can have a significant impact by lowering the chance of relapse. Some homes have a group leader who enforces the rules, while others rely on the collective to organize itself. Whatever the case, they require strict adherence to sobriety, curfews, and other rules, like sharing expenses, for example. This helps residents stay on track and maintain their sobriety.
- Counseling or therapy. Therapy sessions are essential to every alcohol or drug abuse treatment program. This helps patients explore their emotions and arrive at conclusions about the underlying causes of their addiction. They can also help them learn to change their thought and behavior patterns, adopt healthy coping mechanisms and stop resorting to the use of alcohol.
Continuing with this type of treatment can be crucial for patients who have just finished their recovery program. It can help them stay focused on their goals and provide support in times of crisis.
- Support groups are networks of people helping each other continue their recovery and achieve lasting sobriety. Through them, individuals provide encouragement and support to others who are going through similar experiences or have successfully beaten their addiction.
The most widely known ones are the 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Still, there are other types of peer support groups that don’t necessarily include the 12 steps or the religious aspect of the program. They are better suited for non-religious people. There are also special adolescent programs that help teens develop social skills and learn to deal with challenges without resorting to substance use.
- Outpatient therapy can be an excellent aftercare option for people who have completed inpatient rehab. As they leave the treatment facility, they may not feel ready to take on the stress and obligations of everyday life right away. That’s why having the option of attending treatment for several hours a day might be the perfect solution to get them through this period of transition. They can attend therapy sessions as needed daily, weekly, biweekly or monthly.
How to Create an Aftercare Plan?
After completing alcohol addiction treatment and returning to your life, you will naturally face the same stressors, commitments, or people that may have contributed to your alcohol abuse. To be able to face them and resist the temptation to drink, you can create and follow an aftercare plan. Substance abuse and mental health specialists can make some parts of the plan for you when you finish your treatment. Still, it’s up to you to stick to it and do your best to adapt it to your life circumstances.5
The general timeline of an addiction recovery aftercare plan can be followed more easily when it’s divided into steps to be followed in several stages:5, 10
- The first month after completing the treatment
- Make a personal recovery plan by setting your goals and thinking about the ways to achieve them.
- Remember what you learned about identifying negative impulses and put that into practice.
- Surround yourself with supportive people and avoid enabling environments.
- Try to establish a daily routine and incorporate physical and other healthy activities into it.
- Find support groups that best fit your needs and attend them regularly.
- Attend counseling or therapy.
- Turn to your support system of family and friends when you recognize the triggers and feel the urge to drink.
- Avoid getting overwhelmed by too many obligations.
- Months 1-3
- Try to attend support group meetings regularly, once a week or more.
- Continue with your therapy sessions or counseling.
- Try to identify your feelings, including your triggers and the ways you overcome them, and write them down in a journal.
- Months 3-6
- Do your best to begin rebuilding relationships that got damaged during the alcohol abuse period.
- Start thinking about long-term goals.
- Explore new hobbies, and try incorporating one or two into your life.
- Six months to a year
- Celebrate your achievements and recovery milestones.
- Offer support to others battling the same issues you went through.
- Make long-term plans regarding your career, finances, and personal life.
- Don’t stop discovering new interests, motivation, and ways to devote your time to healthy activities.
What Should I Do if I Relapse During a Rehab Aftercare Program?
Alcohol addiction, as a chronic condition, carries a considerable possibility of relapse or remission. However, proper treatment can reduce the likelihood of relapse to about 40-60%, which is lower than many other chronic illnesses. The most important thing to remember is that even if a relapse or a slip happens, it doesn’t mean everything is lost. You can still get back on track.11, 12
Aside from the aftercare program options discussed above, there are things you can do to lower your chances of returning to old habits in stressful or triggering situations:12, 13
- Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle and wholesome, supportive relationships.
- Use the skills you learned during therapy if you get overwhelmed by intense emotions or stressful situations.
- Stay away from situations or people that might trigger a relapse. This may mean not going out to bars or spending time with some of your friends. Your recovery is the top priority, and your close friends and family will understand if you can’t attend certain events.
- Try to identify the triggers that make you want to drink. Reach out to your support group or sponsor if you have one, or call one of the addiction hotlines in moments of crisis.
If you feel like you’ve done all you can but are still struggling, reach out to a trustworthy substance abuse treatment provider, and get professional help. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t make it after your first try. It’s essential to keep working on your issues and get closer to long-term sobriety.1
How Can I Find an Alcohol Aftercare Program Near Me?
If you just completed one of the substance abuse programs, you’ll most likely get an aftercare plan or recommendation from the rehab facility you attended. Those plans are individually tailored to each patient’s needs and specific characteristics. If you are, however, looking for other options, you can check out the resources offered by government-funded organizations and agencies like SAMHSA.1, 14
Another way to find a local rehab aftercare program is to reach out to one of the alcohol addiction hotlines. Your call will be answered by a representative who will ask you questions to determine the most suitable option for you. In addition, substance abuse facilities run their own helplines, so you can reach out to American Addiction Centers (AAC), a nationwide network of substance abuse facilities.
AAC’s admissions navigators can direct you to appropriate aftercare programs near you and answer any questions you might have about the effects of alcohol and addiction in general. If you’re experiencing a relapse, they can present you with possible treatment options or explain the process of medically monitored detoxification.
Frequently Asked Questions