What Does A Good Aftercare Program Consist Of And How Long Does It Last?


Addiction aftercare programs can vary quite considerably depending on the organization that is offering them and the patient receiving the treatment.

The length of time that a program lasts can be anything up to the life of the recovering addict, but will typically be between 30 and 90 days, not counting aftercare.

You can relapse with or without after care

The reason for this is that the majority of people who leave a rehab program – whether it is an inpatient or outpatient program – will relapse in the first six months after treatment, if they are going to do so at all.

Approximately one half of all addicts do relapse within this period, but the relapse may be minor, or more serious.

planning-for-relapse-preventionWith a proper aftercare program it has been shown that the recovering addict’s chances of long term success are far greater than without such a program.

In fact, most rehab programs approach the problem from the standpoint that relapse is a very distinct possibility; while this may be a depressing thought, it is nonetheless comforting to know that treatment professionals understand the possibility and plan treatment accordingly.

Ultimately the only person who can decide whether a recovering addict will remain sober is the recovering addict him or herself, it doesn’t matter how great and effective the staff at the drug rehab are.

However, a good aftercare program will provide all the additional tools that are needed, over and above the primary detox and therapy program.

After Care Program Subjects

Aftercare programs can contain any or all of the following:

  • Prescription medicines to assist with cravings.
  • Group therapy sessions, such as twelve-step meetings.
  • Individual counseling to help cope with anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
  • Assistance with finding a job.
  • Relationship counseling.
  • Family counseling.
  • Life skills classes, where you learn how to handle people and situations that might cause you to relapse.
  • Help with finding a home.
  • Sober living residences where you will not be in the way of temptation.
  • Keeping a minor lapse from becoming a full-blown relapse.
  • Anger and stress management.
  • Understanding and addressing triggers.
  • Coping mechanisms for dealing with abstinence.
  • Vocational skills.
  • And more.

How Long Does a Good After Care Program Last?

How long the program lasts will depend partly on the organization offering the program and partly on how well the recovering addict reacts to it.

There is no “one size fits all”. As mentioned earlier, six to twelve months is typical, but in some instances a recovering addict may continue for life, in later years becoming a role model and offering help to those newly out of rehab.

Twelve-step meetings are common throughout the country – and indeed throughout the world – and have a strong religious connection.

These may not be suitable for everyone, especially those who have no religious beliefs. However, they use the principles on which Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in August 1938 and have been responsible for a considerable number of successful recoveries.

Prescription Drugs and After Care

Prescription drugs may be useful in some instances in order to help cope with cravings, but need to be discussed with the individual and very often with other family members.

What Part do Family and Friends Play in After Care

family-and-aftercareOne of the biggest problems facing recovering addicts may be dealing with family and friends who are also users.

In these instances, learning how to cope with situations where someone in the same room may be using drugs or alcohol can be critical.

Assistance with the mental processes involved in leaving behind old friends who are still users and finding new friends who will support your new-found sobriety can be extremely helpful.

The same thing applies to living accommodation; it may be wisest to find somewhere new to live, where the pressures of family members who drink or take drugs no longer remain a problem.

Ultimately, the answer to the question of how long an aftercare program lasts should be “it takes as long as it takes”.

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