Due to the fact that drug abuse and addiction problems are quite complex, it follows that drug rehabilitation treatment must be thorough. Even when an individual’s drug problems are relatively minor, rehabilitation treatment can take some time and a lot of patience to work through. Each and every physical, mental and emotional cause and effect of drug use has to be considered and resolved in order for the individual to be considered recovered and prepared for a happy, healthy and productive future. The relief of completing a rehabilitation treatment program can lead many individuals to believe that their drug problems are over, which is why relapsing in the future can be so very disheartening.

When an individual participates in a full rehabilitation treatment program only to relapse into drug use in the future it can be easy to blame the treatment program as ineffective or the condition of drug addiction as unsolvable. In actual fact, neither of these answers are correct. The truth is that there is a missing, and critical, link between drug rehabilitation treatment and the individual’s return to normal life environments and routines. This is aftercare, and it can very well mean the difference between successful, lasting recovery and the individual’s failure to maintain their sobriety.

What Is Aftercare

It is one thing for an individual to achieve and maintain their sobriety in a safe, supportive and drug-free environment and quite another thing to successfully maintain their sobriety in the same environments that contributed to their drug use. Without continuing support and encouragement it can be very difficult for the individual to avoid or address relapse triggers that arise, and the simple truth is that the first sixty days following the completion of a rehabilitation treatment program hold the highest risk of relapse.

Aftercare is any type of additional support or treatment given to an individual following their full and thorough rehabilitation treatment program. There are many different types of aftercare, and just as is the case with rehabilitation treatment itself, what works well for one individual may not work as well for another. Individuals have the right, and indeed the responsibility to carefully select the aftercare services that will work best to aid them in transitioning back into their normal life environments and routines. Some basic types of aftercare services include:

Group therapy programs. When a recovering drug addict is surrounded by other individuals who are working through many of the same challenges that they are experiencing, this can serve to give them comfort. Recovering drug addicts can provide each other with support and encouragement, and may even be able to share tips for how to make it through the most challenging parts of recovery. 12-step programs, like those used in Alcoholics Anonymous, are good examples of group therapy programs.
Counseling. The counseling a recovering drug addict receives during their rehabilitation treatment program can be very helpful in aiding them to address and resolve the root causes for their initial drug use. The counseling they receive as part of their aftercare can help them work out how to overcome challenges and difficulties they may be experiencing as they transition back into their normal environments and routines.
Transitional Housing. Moving from the safe, drug-free environment of a rehabilitation treatment facility to the safe, drug-free environment of transitional housing can greatly aid a recovering drug addict in smoothly returning to society. While in transitional housing the individual can work on completing their education, searching for a job and re-establishing healthy relationships with family members and friends.
Relapse prevention classes. When an individual is able to identify and either avoid or resolve relapse triggers, they build their confidence and ability to successfully maintain their sobriety no matter what challenges life may present.

Whatever aftercare services an individual selects, they need to be undertaken with the same dedication and commitment as rehabilitation treatment. With discipline and persistence, individuals can use aftercare to maintain their successful recovery.