Aftercare, or continuing care, is vital to a healthy, and continued recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Oftentimes, patients feel emotionally, physical, and spiritually “healed” when leaving treatment. However, the reality is that there is currently no cure for drug addiction and alcoholism. With continued treatment and support, the ability to remain sober increases. The immediate period of that occurs after a patient leaves drug and alcohol rehab demonstrates the highest risk of relapse to old behaviors, emotions, and drug and alcohol abuse.
As the patient heals from their past, new emotions and behaviors will emerge and must be addressed. An increase in the number and a change in the type of coping skills will change over time. Increasing the number of coping skills over time is highly important to prevent a drug or alcohol relapse. As new challenges are faced, aftercare will provide guidance and support. This support will also help the newly recovering patient search and find new solutions.
The initial continuing care plan should be developed in conjunction with the patient, the therapeutic team (including physicians, therapists, and case managers), and the patient’s support network. A motivated patient and family can overcome substance abuse, with the right guidance.
The goal of aftercare is to continue addiction and dual diagnosis treatment, and to provide emotional support to the patient, while integrating back into the community of choice for the patient. Continued practice of recovery skills, and the addition of new recovery skills allows the patient to move forward in recovery, rather than to remain stuck in a particular stage of recovery, or to regress back to previous behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.
Typically, aftercare will include medical care, psychiatric or addictionology care, and counseling at the individual, group, and family level. A sound drug and alcohol rehab will guide the patient in developing appropriate aftercare. The drug and alcohol treatment center should have the aftercare in place prior to discharge. It is important that the patient be highly involved in the development of aftercare, to help ensure compliance. A strong aftercare plan developed by a reputable drug and alcohol treatment center shall also include provisions to give support to the family.
Many believe that drug and alcohol addiction can be solved by removing drug and alcohol abuse from the patient’s coping skill strategy. However, this is far from the truth. This is only the first step. Because of this, aftercare will include support and treatment for many components of the patient’s lifestyle and needs.
A continuing care plan (sometimes called a relapse prevention plan, or recovery protection plan), should be developed well before the patient discharges from rehab. Components of the plan should be very specific, and may include:
2) Relationships that are to be continued and those that will not be continued
3) Referrals to counseling, including individual, group, and family therapy, as clinically appropriate
4) Physician referrals, such as primary care, psychiatry, and specialty physician care
5) Inclusion of treatment for dual diagnosis disorders
6) Current medications
7) Employment and vocational rehabilitation, when necessary
8) A sound financial plan
10) Community self-help meetings
11) Legal support, as required
12) Spiritual connections
13) Leisure activities
Aftercare is typically a process that lasts for a significant duration of time. During participation in aftercare, the continuing care plan will change over time, as the patient’s and family’s needs change.
Behavioral Wellness and Recovery will help you being developing your aftercare and continuing care plan shortly after admission. We are also here after your discharge to assist you in locating services, should the need arise. We are only a phone call away. To learn how we can help you achieve your goals, call us at 800-683-4457.
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