Aftercare: A Closer Look
After an inpatient rehab stay, the next stop for those with drug or alcohol abuse recovery needs is Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, right? While both AA and NA play important roles in the aftercare of many individuals, it’s not that simple. For optimal success, aftercare plans must address continued substance abuse recovery as well as career, legal, mental health, and social needs.
Continued Substance Abuse Counseling
Addiction is a chronic disease along the lines of diabetes or a heart condition, which means individuals are never “cured.” After leaving a substance abuse rehab center, individuals remain in recovery for the rest of their lives. Strong aftercare counseling helps ensure recovery is successful long-term. Aftercare specific to substance abuse issues my include AA, NA, or other group meetings as well as individual or family therapy. Continued counseling after inpatient treatment helps an individual apply what he or she learned during rehab to ongoing real-life situations. Counselors also help individuals work on coping skills and address new problems or trigger situations as they arise.
Careers often suffer during substance abuse, and individuals leaving rehab may be facing job search needs. Even those who are able to retain existing positions will return to the workforce as a recovering substance abuser and must learn to face job stress without returning to drugs or alcohol. Professional aftercare can provide individuals with assistance or resources when looking for employment; counselors also work with aftercare patients to reintegrate into the workforce in the most positive manner possible.
Unfortunately, some individuals continue to face legal consequences following a stay in a rehab facility. Legal issues could be related to substance abuse itself or to actions the individual took while abusing drugs or alcohol. While most aftercare plans don’t provide legal assistance, discharge professionals may be able to recommend local resources. Aftercare counselors working with individuals in such situations will provide therapeutic support that can help someone deal with legal aspects of previous abuse without succumbing to use again.
Many individuals leaving a rehab facility worry about the social implications of both previous substance abuse and new-found sobriety. Should the individual connect with friends or family who are still using? How will friends and family who turned away from the individual because of substance abuse fit into the rehab picture? Counselors and group therapy provide a safe haven and support system for an individual as they leave rehab and seek to redefine relationships with many people. Family therapy may also help by involving loved ones in the ongoing recovery process so that the individual is less isolated outside of the rehab environment.
Leaving a rehab facility can be just as frightening and monumental as entering one. Dealing with ongoing recovery alone puts individuals at great risk for relapse, which is why any inpatient facility works with patients to develop a strong aftercare plan. From appointments with doctors to maintain medical health to ongoing counseling sessions to strengthen coping skills, professional aftercare supports recovery and reduces the chance of relapse.