Relapse Prevention and Aftercare for Recovery

It is important to use relapse prevention and aftercare plans as part of your long term recover pan. This is because you still need to continue thinking about how to keep up with your sobriety long after your period of intensive addiction treatment - either on an inpatient or outpatient basis - has come to an end.

Overview of Relapse Prevention and Aftercare Plans

In many cases, you would experience some challenges when you make the transition from an inpatient treatment program and go back to your normal day to day life. This is because you could once again be exposed to temptations and triggers that could cause you to relapse.

When you need support and guidance to ensure that you do not relapse, it would be vital that you have a solid relapse prevention and aftercare plan in place. This plan could ensure that you do not start using intoxicating and mind altering substances once you go back home.

The goal of these plans is to provide you with the essential services that you are going to need to ensure that you transition from treatment to normal living by offering you the tools and support that you need to continue maintaining your long term sobriety.

According to NIDA - the National Institute on Drug Abuse - anywhere between 40 and 60 percent of people who have been through an addiction treatment program relapse. This means that you need continued care services to ensure that you do not suffer a relapse.

Additionally, SAMHSA - the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - recommends that your treatment program follows a continuum of care. This effectively means that the care should reflect your requirements during every stage of your recovery. It should also be designed in such a way that it can meet your particular needs and preferences.

The continuum of care will begin when you first check into an addiction treatment program. It would also provide you with certain essential services that you are going to need throughout your recovery process.

Relapse prevention and aftercare plans are part and parcel of this continuum of care. This is because they can offer you the services that you need after you have completed a formal treatment program to ensure that you can manage your transition from rehab to daily life.

Essentially, these relapse prevention and aftercare services would be designed in such a way that they can help you reinforce all the lessons and skills that you learned while enrolled in a rehab program. They can also ensure that you do not relapse and start using drugs or drinking alcohol again. This is particularly important during the first few weeks and months of your recovery when your vulnerability to relapse is at its highest.

Who Needs Relapse Prevention and Aftercare?

Research studies have shown that most recovering addicts do not feel that they are fully prepared to be reintegrated to society once their treatment has come to a close. There are many reasons for this. For instance, you might fear that you could relapse if you found yourself among certain people or in particular circumstances.

To this end, the goal of relapse prevention and aftercare programming would be to ensure that you can deal with this issue, as well as reduce your risk of relapse. The program would also be designed to include various elements to meet this goal. These elements include:

  • Being accountable for your behavior so that you avoid future substance use
  • Feedback when you find yourself in risky situations
  • Ongoing guidance
  • Social support

- Your motivation to stop using drugs completely, and prevent yourself from relapsing

All the programs that would be included in your relapse prevention and aftercare plan would provide these elements in one degree or the other. The services that would be considered appropriate would also depend on your relapse risk factors, needs for support, and daily challenges.

Essential Aftercare Programs

Today, there are many options for relapse prevention and aftercare that can help you meet these goals, as well as deal with any challenges that you might encounter in your recovery. These options include but are not always limited to:

a) Alumni Programs

Most addiction treatment programs will maintain their connections to and relationships with their former clients. If you are in such a program, you would be able to benefit from the continued support that the program would offer you. This support might prove helpful if you would like to remain connected with the staff at the treatment center, meet other recovering addicts, and continue receiving crucial recovery information. Further, it could allow you to attend fun filled events that are focused on sobriety.

All these connections could also provide you with the self-confidence and motivation that you need to keep up with your recovery. This would be come from the knowledge that the end of your treatment does not necessarily mean that you cannot receive additional support from your old drug rehab program.

In the long term, your participation in alumni programs might prove useful in helping you keep all the lessons that you learned while you were enrolled in rehab, as well as ensure that you continue maintaining your commitment to long term sobriety.

b) Outpatient Treatment

You can also follow-up your inpatient treatment with additional outpatient drug rehab. This is important if you still have a high risk of relapse even after your stay in a residential drug rehab facility.

While enrolled in outpatient treatment, you will spend a couple of hours every week at the drug rehab center. You could also attend additional treatment programs including such essential services as occupational therapy, educational programs, and group therapy sessions.

All these services could prove useful in continuing to reinforce the information and skills that you learned during your inpatient treatment. Additionally, they may provide you with additional accountability so that you do not succumb to the temptation to start using drugs and drinking alcohol again.

c) Contingency Management and Motivational Programs

If you need external sources of motivation in your relapse prevention and aftercare, you might benefit from programs such as contingency management and motivational interviewing.

These programs could provide you with new goals to ensure that you are more willing to keep up with your abstinence. In particular, motivational interviewing could follow up with you, offer you feedback and motivation, as well as ensure that you have the right advice about certain challenges that you encounter in your daily life.

On the other hand, contingency management would provide you with a proper reward structure including vouchers for services and goods. This means that you would be rewarded every time you are able to prove that you have not relapsed.

All of these programs may be useful in ensuring that you do not start abusing intoxicating and mind altering substances after you have checked out of a formal addiction treatment program. It could also keep you committed to your long term recovery even while you are receiving treatment as part of your relapse prevention and aftercare program.


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