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What Is Aftercare?

Recovery from drug abuse and addiction doesn’t stop when a treatment period ends. At its core, aftercare should be considered a type of continued treatment, which immediately follows a relatively shorter period of addiction treatment care, such as inpatient rehab or intensive outpatient treatment.

Don’t Underestimate Aftercare

In East Africa, an estimated 2% of the population have a substance use disorder (SUD). According to statistics, the rates of relapse are extremely high among people with an SUD—ranging from 30% to 42%.

Research findings: people who take advantage of aftercare services, their rates of relapse decrease.

Unfortunately, only about half of people utilize aftercare services and even fewer people complete their aftercare programs. If you are planning on entering or leaving a treatment program, make sure to plan ahead and have an aftercare program in place.

It is important to pay close attention to a patient’s post-treatment time interval, for it is during this crucial period that strides made during recovery are reinforced. There are many different kinds of aftercare treatment options which can help prevent relapse and expand upon the coping strategies learned during rehabilitation. They are as follows:

  • Outpatient treatment: The individual lives at home while attending treatment a few times a week when it is convenient for him or her.
    • Group counseling: The patient will listen to and share experiences associated with addiction and work to build social and coping skills in a group setting.
    • Individual therapy: The patient will meet one-on-one with a therapist to build upon progress made during initial treatment.
  • Support System: Fellowship programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), provide support and encouragement for the individual on the road to recovery.

Developing An Aftercare Plan

A quality inpatient rehab program will tailor a set of aftercare requirements and goals for each patient, based on discharge evaluation and specific patient needs. In some cases, such as court-ordered treatment, diversion or other work/employment drug and alcohol assistance programs, aftercare participation is mandatory and closely monitored. While they may be involuntary in some cases, treatment and aftercare are no less effective because of it.

Examples of some of the components leading up to and involving many aftercare plans include:

  • Relapse prevention strategydrawn up and rehearsed prior to the end of initial treatment
  • Prescription for consistent participation in addiction support/ self-help groups (frequently 12-step meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous)
  • Regularly scheduled outpatient follow-up appointmentswith a clinician / counselor for continued therapy
  • When needed, arrangements for a controlled living environment post-treatment – halfway houses, sober living, etc.
  • Recommended or required drug testing

Monitoring: can be done during scheduled appointments, on the phone or email. The information age has ushered in a variety of newer methods for continued patient care, including video appointments, text message check-ins and various other support and tracking apps

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