Drug addiction has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. and other industrialized countries. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse1, the abuse of alcohol and illicit drugs costs the nation, as a whole, in excess of $417 billion. With this cost includes addiction treatment, which includes aftercare. But what is aftercare?
We hope that this e-book will serve as a guide for all of your questions on aftercare. But before we get to preparing you for what to expect from an aftercare program for addiction treatment, we’d like to explain the facts behind addiction, then move on to explaining what to look for in an aftercare program.
The Facts About Addiction
Recent studies have produced statistics that reveal that as many as 30 million Americans are struggling with some form of substance abuse and/or addiction, and with the prevalence of substance abuse and addiction being so high, it is imperative for those individuals who are struggling with substance abuse or addiction to seek a proven program that has all of the elements necessary to increase their chances of a complete recovery.
In the past, there was a significant gulf between those who were suffering from addiction and those who sought treatment. A significant influence on this disparity was the manner in which the public, at large, viewed addiction. For quite some time, the public assessed a negative connotation to the term “addiction.” In fact, many have viewed addiction as an element of criminality.
In a recent study published by Johns Hopkins2, it was discovered that the public feels more negatively toward addiction than it does mental health disorders. Due to the way that people have historically viewed addiction, many people who struggle with addiction choose not to seek professional help to overcome their addiction — reducing the chance of successfully recovering from the disease.
Fortunately, efforts to educate the public concerning addiction have led to a subtle, but consistent, shift in paradigms, as far as how people view addiction and those who suffer with it. More people are beginning to see it as a disease, which means that those who develop addictions are viewed less as criminals and more as individuals who are struggling with a very powerful and unforgiving disease.
While the manner in which people view addiction is evolving, there are other challenges that people who are fighting addiction must overcome. One of the greatest challenges that has the capacity to negatively impact the recovery process is the lack of life skills that contribute to the coping process that is so essential to long-term recovery success.
It is essential that a person gets the help they need to engage the difficulty of making it through the initial stages of recovery, including the detoxification process; however, the back end of the recovery process is immensely important.
Another report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse reveals that the relapse rate for those recovering from an addiction can be as high as 60 percent, with 90 percent of those relapses occurring within the first 60 days of completing the initial treatment program.3
These high numbers are indicative of the importance of an effective aftercare program that will assist those who are recovering from an addiction to manage all of the challenges they will face in an efficacious manner.
Due to the fact that addiction is a disease that tends to impact different people in different ways, this book will focus specifically on addressing why being prepared for life after treatment is so essential to experiencing long-term success as far as recovery is concerned.
The Importance of Addiction Treatment for Adults
It is important to understand the magnitude of the problem when it comes to drug addiction and the damage it causes in the lives of those who become entangled in its restraints. According to a recent study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, there are more than 23.5 million people over the age of 12 who are in need of treatment for substance abuse or addiction.4 Unfortunately, only 2.6 percent of those in need of treatment are getting the help that they need.
Additionally, a misunderstanding of the multitudinous dynamics involved in treating addiction has left many people attempting to circumvent professional treatment in lieu of attempting to detox at home. It is worth noting that home detoxification has a very low success rate for a number of reasons. More than nine out of 10 people who attempt to detox at home are actually successful.
One of the primary reasons for such a high failure rate is the fact that the detoxification process leads to withdrawal, which can be extremely painful and uncomfortable. It is the pain and discomfort that normally lead the individual to use their drug of choice again, simply for the purpose of alleviating the discomfort.
When you participate in a residential treatment program, you will be exposed to a structured environment and a staff that is equipped to assist you in successfully engaging the detoxification process. When men, especially those who have families who are depending on them, are faced with the challenge of battling an addiction, it can be easy to seek the shortest route to recovery; however, the shortest route is most likely not the best.
Working with professionals at a reputable residential treatment facility will expose you to the environment and a staff that will have the capacity and the compassion to provide the necessary support and direction to facilitate your recovery.
The Importance of Aftercare in Achieving a Successful Recovery
As important as the first phase of addiction treatment may be, it is far from being the cure all for the disease. In fact, statistics reveal that the first 60 days after the initial treatment is when the individual in recovery is most at risk to experience a relapse; however, it is not until a person has reached 5 years of sobriety that their chance of relapse decreases to 15 percent.5
What these numbers reveal is the fact that detoxing and breaking the physiological bonds of the addiction is only half of the battle. Addiction is a disease that is secondary in nature, meaning that it is the result of an existing condition that may be a mental disorder or an existing trigger of some kind.
When navigating through the labyrinthine corridors of recovery, it is imperative to engage the causation — that thing that functions as the underlying source of the need to consume the substance of choice. If you do not identify this source, you will remain extremely vulnerable to this particular vice in the future, almost guaranteeing a relapse at some point.
While the structured environment of a residential treatment center provides the ideal situation for the initial phases of treatment and recovery, it does not prepare you to face the inevitable challenges that you will encounter once you return to your normal environment.
Residential treatment centers serve as sort of a physical, emotional and psychological cocoon that will guard a person who is vulnerable against certain stimuli, providing them with the security that is necessary to overcome their addiction.
Unfortunately, this environment does not prepare the individual for the real world. As you move past the first stage of recovery, it is paramount that you enroll in an aftercare program, in order to become better equipped to engage the many vicissitudes that you will encounter.
Preparedness is an essential component of the recovery dynamic. The better prepared you are to confront some of the challenges that could serve as a trigger of a relapse, the better the chance that you will be able to sustain your sobriety.
Being Prepared Before Leaving Addiction Treatment
Aftercare treatment for men can be broken down into two primary categories: pre-release treatment and post-release treatment. Recovery has to be understood as more than a process that transpires over the course of a four to six-week treatment program.
This mindset is one of the reasons for such a high relapse rate. Men, especially, tend to view their victory over the physical aspects of the disease as being indicative of a holistic victory in the recovery process, but the truth is that successfully completing the detoxification is only the beginning of the process.
The next phase of the treatment process is commonly referred to as transitional living. In some cases, there will be individuals who have a supportive family that has the capability to create a better home environment that will be conducive to continuing their recovery at home; however, there are many men who will likely experience some of the stresses that drove them to their addiction in the first place when returning home.
For these individuals, participating in a transitional living program that is designed to prepare them to return to their normal life, being prepared to face the challenges that are waiting on them will prove beneficial.
There are a number of different benefits that are directly associated with participating in an aftercare transitional program.
Participating in on-going therapeutic programs will allow you to continue to work on the underlying issues that directly impact your proclivity to use drugs, and behave in ways that are detrimental to your overall success.
Individuals who struggle with making poor decisions and destructive behavior are more likely to maintain the proper course of action when they are being held accountable through some type of structured programming.
Discover and Understand Triggers
Aftercare programs will also provide you with life skills that will help you cope with triggers that could potentially cause a relapse. These treatment programs can consist of a number of therapeutic modalities, including group therapy, lectures and individual therapy sessions.
Relapse can be triggered by any of a myriad of psychological or social factors, including a sudden death of a loved one, the loss of a job, the recollection of a traumatic experience or something as simple as an unexpected sensation or emotion. But, participating in an aftercare program will help you identify these triggers, as well as develop the skill set that will prepare you to successfully respond to them when they arise.
Dealing with the Unexpected
No matter how well a person prepares for certain situations, there are simply certain things that they cannot possibly prepare for, and if they don’t respond to these unexpected challenges in the right way, it could easily result in the initiation of the relapse process.
Sometimes these unexpected situations may even be positive, such as moving into a new home or starting a new job; nevertheless, if a person does not know how to manage the emotion associated with the experience, their natural response will be to use their drug of choice, because using has always been their coping mechanism, but using the coping skills that they learned during their aftercare treatment will help them successfully engage the unexpected.
Aftercare Programs upon Release
The second phase of aftercare treatment is the on-going treatment that takes place after the person returns back to their regular life. This type of treatment deals with accountability and the reinforcement of principles and coping skills that the individual has already been exposed to.
This can be carried out through group encounters, individual therapy sessions or specific therapy programs, such as equine therapy, wilderness therapy and weekend sessions.
According to Addiction Hope, there are a number of different practices that can help men improve their chances for a successful recovery:
- Work with a treatment specialist in order to overcome the entrenched habits that serve as the underlying issues the form the distinctive pattern of addiction. Work directly with a trained therapist to determine the treatment options that will be best based on your specific situation.
- Don’t attempt to engage the struggle alone. Often, people will allow the shame associated with being addicted to a controlled substance to force them to attempt to confront their addiction alone and in silence. This is a monumental mistake. One of the most successful modes of treating addiction is group therapy. Group therapy provides the support element that is so essential to successful addiction therapy, and it also ensures that the person does not have to battle the feeling of going through recovery alone.
- Be aware of the possibility of co-occurring disorders, such as depression, bi-polar disorder and more. Co-occurring disorders are not as uncommon as some may think, and they can exacerbate the addiction if not properly diagnosed and treated simultaneously. Also known as dual diagnosis, co-occurring disorders can serve as the catalyst for negative behavior that can ultimately end in addiction.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, men are more susceptible to developing dual diagnosis.7 The most common and effective treatment modality for confronting a dual diagnosis is what is known as integrated intervention, which is a treatment plan in which a person is treated simultaneously for both conditions.
Take the Steps to Create a New You
Recovery should be viewed as a process of discovery and adjustments. A good treatment program should cause you to discover some things about yourself that you don’t approve of. The therapist will work with you to take the necessary steps to not only be aware of certain specious activities, but to also take the necessary steps to eradicate the fallible behavior.
It is through this process of discovery and adjustment that you will be able to reinvent yourself — shedding those thoughts and behaviors that lead to poor and undesired results in lieu of positive thoughts that lead to behavior that ultimately culminate into the development of good character and positive results.
Secondary Benefits of Aftercare Programs
While there are some obvious benefits of participating in a reputable aftercare program, such as developing the life skills that will be essential to successfully overcome day-to-day challenges or having access to a continual support system, there are some peripheral benefits that may not be as obvious.
- Resume development, which will be instrumental in securing employment or embarking upon a new career.
- Learning how to create a monthly budget or balance a checkbook.
- Developing interpersonal skills that will help you communicate with others in a manner that will reduce conflict.
Risks of Being Unprepared
The numerous benefits associated with participating in an aftercare program are counterbalanced by the consequential risks associated with failing to participate in an aftercare drug treatment program, and some of the most common risks of bypassing aftercare treatment are:
- Early relapse during or immediately after treatment
- Midterm relapse, occurring between 60 days after release to the 5-year mark.
- Difficulty reintegrating into your normal social environment
- A higher risk of being arrested for crime related activity
There is no denying that drug and alcohol addiction has become extremely prevalent over the last two decades; however, residential treatment centers and aftercare programs have evolved to meet the specific needs of men like yourself who may be struggling with addiction.
By finding the program that is right for you and participating completely, you will increase your ability to successfully overcome the powerful pull of addiction, so that you can return to your life with a renewed sense of purpose and direction.
Give us a call or come visit our Inpatient Treatment Center In Los Angles California
- Unknown. (2015). Trends & Statistics on Substance Abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Dobson, S. (2014). Public Feels More Negative Toward People with Drug Addiction Than those with Mental Disorders. Johns Hopkins, Bloomberg School of Public Health.
- Ekern, J. (2014). Ten Tips for Addiction Recovery. Addiction Hope.
- Manejwala, O. (2014). How Often Do Long-term Sober Alcoholics and Addicts Relapse. Psychology Today.
- Staff. (2011). Treatment Statistics. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- Staff. (2015). Dual Diagnosis. National Alliance on Mental Illness.
- Unknown. (2015). Preventing Drug and Alcohol Relapse through Healthy Living for You and Your Loved Ones. Recovery.org.