There is no denying the risk of the initial days, weeks and months of abstinence once removed from the sanctuary of rehab, but there are ways that recovering addicts and alcoholics can minimize these risks; and the single greatest way to increase the odds of long term sobriety is simply by maintaining a long and committed participation in offered aftercare therapies.
Drug rehab should never end…
Rehab should never finish with the end of the residential period of programming, just as important are the continuing therapies offered to help recovering addicts cope with the newfound realities of sobriety on “the outside”; and a full participation in aftercare therapies is one the singular most important actions any recovering addict can take to better their odds of success and sobriety.
What is aftercare?
Aftercare simply means continuing therapy after a residential period of stay, and it does not necessarily signify any particular form of therapy; but a few of the more common forms of aftercare therapy are a continuing participation in 12 steps group meetings, a continuing participation in peer support groups, and continuing sessions with a therapist.
Most better rehabs will offer a long period of aftercare therapy as a part of the admission price, but far too many graduates of a drug or alcohol rehab fail to make use of these vital ties to sobriety, and a failure to maintain aftercare therapy is significantly correlated with relapse.
By maintaining a regular and frequent participation in aftercare therapy, the lessons of rehab are continually consolidated in response to the actual realities of temptation and cravings on the outside, and through the support of professionals and other addicts in recovery, you can work through those temptations threatening sobriety in a healthy, effective and constructive way.
Aftercare does not necessarily need to occur at a drug or alcohol rehab, and any continuing therapy after residential rehab is considered aftercare; but there is an advantage to maintaining therapy at a rehab. After a month or more of intense and honest therapy, you will have likely developed working and trusting relationships with professionals and other addicts in recovery, and working with these same people through the initial months of sobriety often makes the most sense.
While maintaining individual sessions with a therapist you can also modify your relapse prevention plan to accurately reflect the threats to your sobriety as they emerge after rehab, and discuss ways that triggers to abuse can be minimized and temptations countered.
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Most rehabs offer some degree of aftercare programming, and when selecting a rehab, the intensity and duration of aftercare as offered should factor into your decision-making process between available drug and alcohol rehabs (Read more on how aftercare keeps you sober).
There is never a guarantee; but aftercare can help a lot.