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The Importance of Aftercare Programs, Post Inpatient Treatment

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

The journey of recovery is not defined as one particular event in your life; it is one that is ongoing, ever-changing and has different areas of focus as you progress in that journey. In the earliest stages of your recovery, medical detoxification was needed to help you become medically, physically and emotionally stabilized as you transitioned to inpatient treatment. While in residential treatment, you were provided an individualized treatment plan that included a combination of comprehensive individual and group therapy, life skills development training and relapse prevention education in an intensive in-house setting.


The completion of inpatient treatment is indeed a milestone and should be celebrated. However, your recovery doesn’t end when you walk out the doors of the treatment facility–in fact, the real work in recovery has just begun! When you start the transition back into your normal life and routine, the triggers and temptations of your home environment may come at you from all angles–and you can be vulnerable for a relapse. In order to get the extra support and encouragement you need to minimize the potential for relapse, you are highly encouraged to take part in aftercare programs that will continue to help you hone your plan of recovery so you can step back into your life with confidence.

If you or a loved one are looking for quality aftercare programming, call First Steps Recovery today toll-free.

What Exactly are Aftercare Programs and Why are They So Important?

In its simplest definition, aftercare programs provide continued counseling and support once you complete intensive inpatient treatment. In many situations, aftercare programs are extensions of inpatient rehabs, but they also can function as an intensive outpatient treatment for those who may not be able to meet the time commitment of residential treatment. No matter its function, aftercare programs are flexible in regards to scheduling, and clients can attend programming day or night depending on their work, family or school schedule.

As stated in the opening, it is important to realize that recovery is an ongoing process. While there are clearly milestones during that journey, you  must avoid the mindset that you are “cured” of your addiction as a result of completing drug rehab treatment. In order to reinforce that message and to make your transition to your regular routine much easier, aftercare services provide you the added tools and support you need to increase your chances of success. It is absolutely critical that you build a dependable support system and have it in place when you come back home. With the support you receive from staff and your recovering peers in an aftercare treatment program, you can be assured that you’re few months of recovery will be productive and happy.

As stated earlier, aftercare programming is extremely versatile. While it may provide a supplementary role for those who just completed inpatient drug treatment, aftercare may also be part of a lifelong health plan for other people. Aftercare services may include individual counseling, group meetings, ongoing addiction education, social activities and even occasional recreational outings. Additionally, these services may be offered in male-only, female-only, and teen-only formats to provide the strongest support, and some aftercare programs may even have specific specialties. No matter what you are looking for in an aftercare program, First Steps Recovery is able to tailor an individual program to meet your specific needs. Call us right now!

Focus on Relapse Prevention

Aftercare treatment programming and support focuses on relapse prevention measures and ways you can minimize those risks in your everyday life. There are four major ways in which this is accomplished:

Learning About Your Triggers

There are a lot of environmental, social and psychological factors that can trigger substance abuse. A relapse can occur after an episode of depression or it can happen as a result of a flashback to a past trauma. There are also other examples of triggers which include family and relationship conflict or even a public event such as a party which provides a tempting environment to start using drugs or alcohol. Aftercare programs will help you learn how to identify these stressors and develop healthy and proactive ways to cope with these stressors

Coping with Daily Stressors and Cravings

When you complete drug treatment can come back home, you will be faced with a lot of situations that you may not have considered during treatment. For example, you could get a new job, start a new intimate relationship, or you might be moving into to a new home or moving to a different state. These types of situations can make you vulnerable to a relapse. Counseling sessions and support groups found in aftercare groups can help you cope with these high-risk situations in a healthier manner.

Thinking Through A Relapse

For those who are in early recovery, they may think they can go back to drugs or alcohol because they can “handle them better”. In fact, resuming drinking and drugging usually results in potentially dangerous outcomes such as an overdose, hospitalization, loss of a relationship or incarceration. An individualized relapse prevention plan that is a part of an aftercare program will teach you to evaluate the potential outcome of a slip before taking that first drink or picking up your drug of choice.

Keeping a Lapse From Turning into a Relapse

No matter how strong our recovery may be, slips do happen. These minor slips don’t have to snowball into a full-blown relapse if you seek help immediately and take the necessary steps to get back to your program. A quality aftercare program will teach you how to handle these momentary lapses if and when they do occur.

Aftercare programs are an excellent investment to ensure that you have a meaningful long-term recovery. If you are ready to embrace sobriety for the long run, call First Steps Recovery today and learn about our effective aftercare programs. Don’t cut corners when it comes to your recovery; call us right now and learn how aftercare programs can raise your recovery to new levels.

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