What Drug and Alcohol Aftercare Programs Are Available?
Drugs and alcohol aftercare programs are an important part of the recovery process. There is no “cure” for drug and alcohol addictions so once you leave the program, you will probably still have cravings for drugs and alcohol, especially if you continue to spend time with your former “drug-abusing” friends. In addition, you will be tempted to return to your former drug and alcohol habits when you stressed or overwhelmed. Furthermore, you will probably crave drugs and alcohol every day.
In order to maintain your sobriety, it is important that you participate in support groups or an aftercare program once you graduate from your treatment program. Thankfully, there are a variety of aftercare programs that can offer you guidance, support and encouragement during your most challenging times. These programs will help you maintain your sobriety and a regain your life.
Aftercare programs that can help you maintain sobriety:
Relapse Prevention Support Groups
- Relapse prevention support groups are one of the most effective aftercare programs available. You can find one of these support groups in almost every city in the United States. These support groups offer weekly meetings for recovering substance abusers, drug addicts and alcoholics.
During a relapse prevention support group meeting, you meet with other substance abusers, drug addicts and alcoholics and discuss your personal trials and triumphs. You offer one another advice on how to cope with stressful situations and resist the temptation to return to your former drug and alcohol habits. The meetings are held under the supervision of a group counselor who provides you and the other group members with guidance, encouragement and support.
Sober Living Houses
- A sober living house is another aftercare option that may be beneficial for some recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. This type of aftercare program provides you with a safe and drug-free place to live while you work on your recovery, find stable employment and transition into a healthier version of your life.
- Urge surfing is an alternative aftercare option in which a counselor teaches you how to suppress your drug and alcohol craving. The purpose of this technique is to help you understand that your “urges” will eventually diminish. During an urge surfing session, you are asked to pay close attention to how you feel when a drug urge coming on.
- Once you feel the urge, you are asked to practice deep breathing while contemplating the negative consequences associated with giving into your drug and alcohol cravings. The goal of your counselor is to teach you that you have a choice not to give into your drug urges and maintain your sobriety.
12-Step Recovery Programs
- Twelve-step recovery programs (Alcoholics Anonymous) are common aftercare programs used to provide 12 support for recovering substance abusers and drug addicts. These programs provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to maintain sobriety and improve your life. They also assign you a “sponsor” who you can call anytime you feel tempted to use drugs and alcohol. They also provide you with support groups aimed at helping you remain sober.
- Counseling is another common drug and alcohol aftercare program. A counselor, especially a behavioral therapist, can teach you the skills you need to cope with stressful situations without turning to drugs and alcohol. Your counselor can also help you identify your drug-related triggers and help you change the negative thoughts and behaviors that influence your dependency on drugs and alcohol.
Maintenance Aftercare Programs
- In some cases, you may need to enter a drug maintenance aftercare program. This type of program is beneficial if you have a history of heroin and opiate abuse and/or require methadone to maintain your sobriety.
Cowles, E. L. (1995). Boot camp drug treatment and aftercare intervention: An evaluation review. MI: University of Michigan Library.
Fletcher, A. M. (2013). Inside rehab: The surprising truth about addiction treatment and how to get help that works. New York, NY: Viking Adult.
Siluk, D. L. (2004). Aftercare: Chemical dependency recovery: The inside passage, 3. New York, NY: iUniverse, Inc.