The Importance of Aftercare In Recovery From Addiction
It is tempting for those who have come out of an intensive addiction treatment program to believe that their problems have been solved. Yes, getting help for addiction is courageous and getting through treatment is admirable, but leaving a treatment centre does not mean your problems are over.
In all honesty, the real work begins after the security and routine of structured inpatient treatment. Continued care is vital, particularly during the first few years of recovery. There is no quick fix. Addiction, much like diabetes, is a lifelong disease that can be controlled if monitored and treated appropriately.
The move from inpatient treatment to the outside world
Aftercare in relation to addiction refers to the additional support that is provided following primary care. This can occur in the form of support groups (AA or NA), counselling sessions, relapse prevention groups or follow up meetings. Aftercare is about developing coping mechanisms for the addict to use in the ‘real world’. Support groups and professional counselling sessions also give the addict a safe place to discuss any reservations they may be struggling with outside of the treatment centre.
The Risk of Relapse
The highest risk of relapse is in the first 90 days following discharge from rehab. This is why support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous suggest that addicts go to 90 meetings in 90 days after putting down their drink/ drug of choice.
The risk of relapse does not simply end after those 90 days, as mentioned before there is no quick fix for addiction. The risk of relapse remains high for the first 5 years of recovery.
What causes a relapse?
When an addict leaves a treatment facility they are usually confident about the future. They have made it through the physical withdrawals and now envision a life without substance abuse. This feeling is also referred to as the ‘pink cloud,’ and once the addict comes down from this ‘cloud,’ things can quickly spiral out of control.
Yes, after completing an inpatient recovery program an addict should feel proud of such an awesome achievement. However, once they return to everyday life, they find that recovery is more of a challenge than previously anticipated.
Staying clean is most certainly harder in the outside world then it is in a residential treatment facility. There is a lot of support in rehab and the individual is protected from temptation. A return to the real world can come as a shock. The individual is once again surrounded by temptation and they now lack the support found in rehab. It is a real struggle not to be drawn back to familiar behaviour. Staying away from people, places and things that are triggering is overwhelming. The addict has to start from scratch essentially, build a new life.
There are a number of reasons why people relapse. Motivation can wane if there is not a concerted effort to keep focused on living free of alcohol and drugs. The individual can begin to feel that their problems are behind them and that no special effort is required to stay sober. They then forget the reasons that drove them into recovery in the first place.
The pain of their rock bottom is forgotten. If they fail to put enough effort into staying sober, they stop progressing and life in recovery becomes unsatisfying. They may react to this by once again returning to addiction.
The Importance of Aftercare
Those who take on some type of aftercare are less likely to relapse. Aftercare keeps the individual motivated and provides much needed support when things get difficult – and they do get difficult.
An addict who goes through inpatient treatment does gain insight and skill however most of the learning has to occur during everyday life. The addict will always be faced with new problems – such is life – and when secure in an aftercare program of sorts, they are encouraged to find new solutions. This way they are able to develop effective coping strategies over time.
Houghton House: Continued Care
Houghton House is committed to ensuring a successful and sustained recovery for our clients.
After in-patient treatment we offer extended treatment options:
Extended In-patient Care:
The extended inpatient care programme is geared towards individuals who have completed a detox and primary care programme.The General Addiction Programme (GAP) is the Houghton House Group’s extended inpatient care facility, in Ferndale, Johannesburg.
The GAP offers people a chance to establish and build a new lifestyle combined with self-awareness and a deeper sense of responsibility. The programme provides guidance on establishing a lifestyle, which is conducive to a sustained and successful recovery. It facilitates greater education, goal setting and lifestyle change in each client.
Houghton House’s tertiary care programme focuses on men and women who have completed a residential treatment programme and are now are willing to commit to a long term structure of living for recovery. During this particular stage of their recovery, residents are generally fully re-integrated into the working environment or are looking for jobs.
We have a continuing care programme that is designed as a follow-up to primary and secondary treatment, offering support and encouragement. These meetings enable us to monitor clients’ progress, and address and assist with any issues they are facing in early recovery and post-treatment reintegration.
If you are interested in seeking continued care, contact Houghton House today.