The Importance Of Alcohol And Drug Treatment Aftercare

Importance Of Aftercare Programs In Addiction Treatment

Many people assume that once a stay at a rehabilitation center is over, people dealing with addiction are simply on their own in the real world. However, there are ways to stay involved in recovery after leaving rehab

When a client leaves a rehab facility, one of the most important things they can do to maintain their recovery is to develop an aftercare plan or program. 

While certain types of aftercare for drug and alcohol treatment are often thought to help clients remain sober longer, each client’s aftercare drug treatment plan will look different depending on what type of assistance they require. 

Throughout their recovery, their aftercare alcohol and drug treatment plans are liable to change. Clients need to know why and how to utilize substance abuse and recovery aftercare once they leave a rehab center.

What Is Alcohol and Drug Treatment Aftercare?

Aftercare treatments are designed to assist clients in maintaining their sobriety once they leave rehab. 

When someone dealing with an addiction enters into a rehab program, the professionals involved in their recovery begin taking notes on what aftercare drug treatment would help the client most once they finish their program. 

After leaving recovery centers, there’s a chance of falling victim to destructive thoughts and old behaviors.

Aftercare alcohol and drug treatment is designed to help maintain all the different skills learned in rehab while patients transition back into their communities. 

These services are seen as continued treatment, with no specific ending date, unlike rehab. When this ongoing treatment is taken advantage of, a client’s chances of relapsing decrease.

Why Is Aftercare Important?

Substance abuse aftercare provides peer support to clients once they leave a rehabilitation facility. 

These services are designed to educate clients, offer support, and help them reconnect with their community. 

While inpatient stays come with a graduation date, aftercare can continue for as long as the client wishes, whether weeks, months or even years.

The quality of the aftercare that a client receives can significantly impact the likelihood of remaining sober outside of the rehab. 

Clients need to remain mindful of what types of support they will need outside of rehab. Before leaving the facility, a plan for the patient’s aftercare should be made to better picture what things will be like while transitioning back into their previous community.

Making an Aftercare Treatment Plan

Once entered into an inpatient rehabilitation program, clients should begin thinking about their substance abuse and recovery aftercare plan.

A typical substance abuse aftercare plan often includes things like developing a relapse prevention plan, outpatient therapy appointments, attending addiction self-help groups, and periodic drug testing.

  • Consult a professional: Clients should be sure to discuss their aftercare plan with their doctors and therapists. Experts can usually help them pinpoint what types of aftercare will be most beneficial.
  • Write it down: Patients should keep a documented copy of their aftercare plan. It should include all pertinent information, like the locations of support group meetings and therapy appointment times.
  • Spread the word: Clients should inform their friends and family, or any other support system they have, of their aftercare treatment plan. This will help keep clients accountable and on the right path in their recovery.
How Can Drug and Alcohol Treatment Aftercare Help Patients?

At its core, an aftercare program is designed to give rehabilitation program graduates resources outside of the inpatient facility. This is to help patients maintain sobriety and succeed in other aspects of their lives.

Aftercare planning can also:

  • Reinforce coping skills: Leaving a recovery facility is a stressful time for many people affected by addiction. Aftercare programs help patients remember the skills they learned in rehab when it comes to coping with stress.
  • Helps clients identify their triggers: Clients who move back into their community after rehab continuously face triggers from their past. These triggers can make staying sober difficult. Identifying these triggers and talking through how to cope with them is vital to remaining sober.
  • Prevents relapse: Most people facing addiction relapse at some point; however, this does not need to end their sobriety. Substance abuse and recovery aftercare treatment programs help clients maintain sobriety and provide them with assistance should they slip up on their road to recovery.
  • Gives clients access to support: One of the most vital aspects of recovery is the support clients have around them once they leave the rehab center. Aftercare programs can help clients network to find support around them that may not have been there before.
Different Types of Aftercare Available
Facility-Based Aftercare Programs

Many rehabilitation facilities have their own aftercare programs offered to clients. When first thinking about going into a rehabilitation center, or after entering one, clients must discuss any aftercare programs available to them through their rehabilitation center. 

Clients should also keep in mind that they do not have to participate in an aftercare program based at the same facility they went to for recovery. There are many aftercare programs unaffiliated with rehabilitation centers to choose from as well.

Counseling and Therapy

One of the essential parts of a rehab stay is speaking to a professional to identify potential triggers for substance abuse and determine how to deal with those triggers. 

Substance abuse and recovery aftercare that includes attending counseling or therapy helps those dealing with substance abuse triggers and stress once they graduate from the rehabilitation program. Therapists can also help clients process through their reintegration into the outside world by utilizing aftercare treatment. 

Jobs, family, and addiction can all be discussed at a counseling session. There are no off-limit topics. This is advantageous because frequently, addiction is linked to other aspects of the client’s life.

Family Education and Counseling

Aftercare is designed to help the patient and be useful for the client’s loved ones. When a patient enters rehab, they often leave behind some tension with their families and friends. This tension can sometimes be put on hold while the client focuses on their health and sobriety. 

Once patients leave the rehabilitation facility and begin their aftercare program, they should consider entering into family counseling. It can help significantly in the success of their recovery and support their family or friends better understand what is happening now that the client has graduated rehab. 

Educating families about substance abuse and substance abuse and recovery aftercare can help foster feelings of trust within a family system where that trust may have previously been lost.

Case Management

Case managers are there to help patients re-enter the world outside of rehab. Their job is to provide whatever type of support the patient needs, whether that means they act as a counselor to clients or a guide to living outside of a recovery center. Case managers are a client’s go-to for aftercare drug treatment once they leave the facility.

Relapse Prevention Therapy

One of the scariest things for most patients graduating from an inpatient rehabilitation facility is the possibility of relapse once they return to everyday life. While relapses can be a setback, they have recently been noted to be a symptom of addiction, meaning that anyone facing an addiction is likely to suffer from a relapse. 

Relapse prevention therapy is often started while the client is still in the rehabilitation facility to prevent this and continues once they leave the facility as part of their aftercare alcohol and drug treatment. This therapy helps identify triggers and teaches clients how to deal with those triggers without relapsing. 

Therapy can also address how clients should deal with cravings and potential stressors in their outside environment. Clients often create plans in case they become tempted to go back to drugs or alcohol, meant to be acted on before they make any potentially dangerous choices. 

Relapse Prevention Therapy also often helps clients deal with moving forward if and when they suffer a relapse, so things don’t spiral out of control.

Outpatient Recovery Services

Many people facing addiction first enter an inpatient rehabilitation facility. After leaving that facility, it is often recommended that clients transition to an outpatient recovery center. These are less structured than inpatient programs and allow clients to continue living and working in their community while receiving treatment like counseling and managing any medications.

Transitional Living Homes

Sober living is an excellent choice for many people dealing with addiction. After leaving rehab, clients move into homes with other people who have left a recovery center. 

They live together in an alcohol and drug-free environment where they have less structured days than a rehabilitation facility, but still, have rules patients need to follow to remain accountable. Studies show that many people who take advantage of Sober Living Homes have better long-term recovery than those who don’t. 

Sober living also offers clients an affordable place to live, as they are often in search of employment after leaving the rehab facility.

12-Step Programs

After leaving a rehabilitation center, many people facing addiction look to 12-step programs to connect with other people recovering from addiction and stay accountable for their recovery through working on each of the 12 steps. 

These programs encourage continuing a journey of sobriety by staying accountable and actively working on your sobriety even after being out of rehabilitation for a considerable amount of time. 

However, these steps are not for everyone, as they recommend “giving in to a higher power.” While each program member is encouraged to pick their own higher power, this program’s focus on spirituality can be off-putting to those without spiritual beliefs.

SMART Recovery Meetings

SMART (self-management and recovery training) meetings are not the same as 12-step programs. SMART meetings are face-to-face meetings that are held around the world and are also available online. 

These meetings support recovering individuals by teaching them how to change their mindset, emotions, and actions to achieve long-term life satisfaction. The SMART recovery approach is the core of our non 12 step recovery program.

Support Groups

It is crucial that those recovering from addiction can speak with other people who understand what they are going through. Support groups, such as alcohol support groups, are judgment-free zones where people facing addiction and their loved ones can get together and talk. 

During meetings, members can discuss relevant topics, ask questions, and ask for advice in an atmosphere where they feel valid and accepted. 12-step programs are one example of a support group, but there are many others to choose from. Taking part in support groups significantly increases a client’s chances of staying sober long-term.

Integrated Recovery Services

Psychological issues often need long-term attention, and addressing them while in a rehabilitation center may not be enough. To prolong sobriety, many aftercare treatments include integrated recovery services. 

They are designed to treat any dual diagnosis that the patient may have. Mental health and addiction are often closely related, and those prone to addiction may have underlying mental health issues. If these issues are not addressed, frequently sobriety is not as prolonged.


During follow-up therapy appointments, on the phone, or even by email, clients must keep doctors and therapists aware of what is happening now that they are out of rehab. 

Doctors and therapists offer unbiased advice to clients without judgment or personal interests. Monitoring done by professionals helps to keep clients accountable even once they leave the recovery facility.

Never Forget the Importance of Aftercare

Sobriety and recovery should be focused on even once a client’s stay at a rehabilitation facility has ended. Aftercare alcohol and drug treatment programs were created to facilitate this need. 

Substance abuse aftercare programs guide clients through the transition from an inpatient rehabilitation facility to their lives outside of rehab. 

Making it through a stay at a rehabilitation center is a significant accomplishment. Still, it is vital to keep in mind that patients are vulnerable when they first leave recovery centers, and their chance of relapse is more significant than ever. 

Because of this, aftercare programs and plans are essential things for clients to have access to.

Scott Friend Msw M.s. Medical Review E1609434230277
Medically reviewed by
Scott Friend, MSW, M.S.

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Is an accredited drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, that believes addiction treatment should not just address “how to stay sober” but needs to transform the life of the addict and empower him or her to create a more meaningful and positive life. We are dedicated to transforming the despair of addiction into a purposeful life of confidence, self-respect and happiness. We want to give recovering addicts the tools to return to the outside world completely substance-free and successful.
elevate addiction services logo
Is an accredited drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, that believes addiction treatment should not just address “how to stay sober” but needs to transform the life of the addict and empower him or her to create a more meaningful and positive life. We are dedicated to transforming the despair of addiction into a purposeful life of confidence, self-respect and happiness. We want to give recovering addicts the tools to return to the outside world completely substance-free and successful.