Addiction is a chronic disease that must be addressed over a lifetime. There is no “cure” for addiction. The purpose of rehab or addiction treatment is to give the patient the tools they need to cope with urges as they appear, or to make the necessary lifestyle changes so they can avoid relapsing into drug or alcohol abuse.
Rehab usually refers to the time spent at a facility or clinic where the patient undergoes therapy, detox, and medical testing, but this is not the end of the process. Addiction aftercare can often mean the difference between a relapse and a clean bill of health.
For more information regarding addiction aftercare and relapse prevention programs, call Drug Treatment Centers Danbury at (203) 885-1746.
Addiction aftercare is where the patient continues to attend group or private therapy sessions, follow-up meetings with doctors, or booster sessions to make sure they’re still on the wagon.
As many as 50% of addicts end up relapsing, often within the first 60 days after discharge from rehab, so addiction support is essential during this time. The specifics of relapse prevention change from program to program, but the benefits they have for the recovering addict are unmeasurable.
Patients often experience a swell of optimism upon being released from rehab. This is well-deserved. Rehab can be an unpleasant process, usually including a detoxification period where the patient purges themselves of the toxins they have relied on for so long.
Those undergoing detox from drugs or alcohol report intense cravings, agitation, sweats, vomiting, gastrointestinal distress, vivid nightmares or hallucinations, and sometimes even violent outbursts. All of these symptoms are best dealt with under the careful watch of professionals in a sterile facility where emergencies can be dealt with.
Detox usually lasts about a week, after which a longer drug rehab program begins, where the patient begins attending therapy to address the origins of their substance abuse and learn coping mechanisms they can use if they are ever tempted again.
Some rehab programs also offer skill-building courses that can help put the patient back on track with their career, or to help them learn a new hobby. Upon discharge, these patients have a new lease on life. This can be a wonderful time, but it doesn’t always last.
Aftercare is primarily designed to cope with the end of this “honeymoon period.” As the stresses of normal life begin to creep back up on the patient, it’s very easy to fall into old patterns. Sometimes patients have to sever ties with “enablers”, or close friends or family members who might encourage them to relapse. This can leave some patients feeling lonely or bored, two attitudes that can easily lead to renewed addiction.
Some programs include family therapy sessions, where the patient can bring family members who need to learn how to properly support their decision to stay sober. Relapse prevention also focuses heavily on “triggers” – dangerous situations or events that can lead to relapse. This can include tragedies such as a loved one dying, or something as innocuous as walking past the liquor section at the grocery store and remembering how good intoxication feels.
Aftercare therapists will teach the patient many strategies for avoiding these triggering situations. Some programs will also put the patient in contact with a “sponsor”, a person who can be on call at all hours of the day or night to offer support and wisdom if the patient feels they are close to relapse.
If rehab is the initiation into sober living, aftercare builds the foundational base that will allow the patient to maintain their sobriety indefinitely.
Many patients build relationships in recovery programs that last a lifetime. Alcoholics Anonymous, for instance, boasts over one million members in the United States, many of whom continue to attend meetings for years after achieving sobriety to meet with friends and offer their wisdom to a new generation.
Some programs can also offering counseling for mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, or PTSD, which can increase someone’s risk of relapse. Addiction stays with you, but with the help of a good recovery program, you can stay sober and healthy for the rest of your life.