Why Aftercare Is Essential For Recovering From Substance Abuse

Did you recently complete substance abuse treatment program? If so, you are likely proud of your accomplishment. Your treatment provider likely has told you about aftercare, but you may not fully understand its importance. You may feel emotionally and physically better than you have felt in a long time, but do not let this false sense of security result in you overlooking the importance of aftercare treatment.

Why Aftercare is Important

Avoiding recommended aftercare could result in you relapsing. Sometimes people relapse while in aftercare too, but you may have a better chance of getting back on track if you are in aftercare treatment rather than attempting to overcome a relapse episode alone. Your initial substance abuse treatment plan likely involved getting you to abstain from using substances for a set period of time. Aftercare will give you the tools, resources and support you need to abstain for the long-term.

Skills You May Learn in Aftercare

Coping with Cravings - It is possible to experience a craving for your drug of choice even after being sober for a long time. Early in recovery, individuals may feel guilty about having cravings, but it is important to remember that having a craving is not the same as relapsing. Aftercare can equip you with the tools to get through cravings. For example, some people who are in recovery from alcohol abuse find that drinking a sweet non-alcoholic beverage or eating something sweet makes their alcohol cravings go away. 

Coping with Triggers - Identifying your triggers or things that make you feel like using your drug of choice is important because as part of your continued recovery your goal should be to cope with and minimize triggers. For example, stress is a trigger for a number of people, and they may be employed in stressful occupations. Therefore, it may not be ideal for them to quit their only source of livelihood. Instead, they can use skills they learn in aftercare to get through stressful situations. Some possible recommendations may include exercising, meditating, journaling and getting adequate sleep. 

Relapse Intervention - After some people have gone without substances for extended amounts of time, they may assume that they can safely resume using substances. Aftercare will aid in ensuring that you have someone to call to help you through this type of dangerous thinking. Some programs refer to these individuals as accountability partners or sponsors. They can also help you get back on track if you actually relapse.

The treatment facility you chose may have an aftercare program. Some facilities offer one-on-one counseling sessions and group sessions. Never let the fear of not being able to afford aftercare keep you from getting help. There are a number of facilities that set fees based on income, and there may also be community support groups in your area that accept voluntary donations from attendees.