Friday September 30th 2016

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Why is outpatient aftercare important after residential rehab?

Q: Who can benefit from outpatient aftercare?
A: Upon completion of residential treatment, every recovering addict could benefit from continuing care.

More here on the role of outpatient treatment after residential treatment, with a section for your questions or comments about drug and alcohol treatment aftercare at the end.

Why is outpatient a valuable next step after residential treatment?

Residential treatment is an inpatient experience which takes place in the hospital, treatment center, detox or rehab. It provides the drug addict and alcoholic an opportunity to separate from family, loved ones, friends, the street and codependents in an effort to keep the focus on one self and away from external influences. However, the transition from rehab to real-life can bring on real and immediate stress.

Types of outpatient aftercare programs

There are a wide variety of programs available in most areas. Each program offers some variation in services, giving the individual the opportunity to select the program that can best address their needs. For example, day treatment programs are available to those who require significant support in their transition from inpatient to outpatient treatment. Day treatment extends through most of each weekday. The evenings are spent at home through to the next morning when they return to the day treatment center.

Likewise, intense behavioral and group therapy treatment is usually available. Plus, extended treatment is for those recently completing an inpatient program, requiring assistance reentering the workforce, with family dynamics and the related stresses. Regardless of the type of program, outpatient aftercare can help an addict or alcoholic continue to address ongoing issues in a supportive and healthy environment. It serves as a segue between the treatment space and life on life’s terms. Basically, ongoing treatment allows people to continue to develop the skills and behaviors which will lead them to a life of sobriety.

Why else should you consider outpatient aftercare?

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1. Addiction recovery doesn’t conclude when leaving rehab

Many addicts and alcoholics successfully complete a residential treatment program which can run anywhere from 30 days, 90-days, 6-months or as long as two years. The duration can depend on factors including individual need, court judgments, finances, insurance and individual responsibilities. Once the residential treatment program is completed, often the addict is released to the street where the urge to relapse can be difficult to manage, particularly at first.

After completing residential treatment, the recovering addict may be released with only a recommendations in hand:

  • make a 12-step meeting every day
  • get a sponsor
  • stay away from people, places and things.

All are valuable recommendations. However, many addicts require more extensive support and would benefit from creating an addiction aftercare plan. Many don’t know it. Some won’t admit it and are in denial.

Regardless the circumstances, outpatient treatment can be beneficial to a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. It can help the individual manage the very real urge to use and abuse drugs and alcohol. Focused outpatient treatment can help integrate the recovering addict back into productive society. Relapse prevention is monitored and people remain accountable!

2. Outpatient treatment provides structure

Outpatient treatment ought to follow completion of any inpatient program. It is a recommended next step, offering the addict a support system after leaving the secure and controlled inpatient environment. It may not offer the same security and structured environment nor do the intense therapeutic community that is available while inpatient. Instead, outpatient treatment can be used as a stepping-stone, to assist the drug addict, as a helping hand to continue with recovery and avoid the very powerful urge to relapse.

3. Relapse prevention requires work

The stresses of everyday life can easily push the recovering addict into a relapse. Outpatient treatment can offer the recovering addict the tools needed to address daily challenges and avoid triggers. Individual and group therapy is often available. A structured and safe environment is provided to assist the addict. What is addiction aftercare if not encouragement for relapse prevention?

4. Outpatient aftercare is flexible

The transition to outpatient offers the recovering addict substantial real world benefits. Whether currently attending school or working, these treatment programs are typically flexible, enabling one to accommodate a range of scheduling needs. However, this type of treatment requires substantial commitment in order to make the program work. It works best for those in stable circumstances, stable living arrangements with a strong intimate support system.

Are you considering an outpatient program?

Leave us a message. We’ll try to help answer any questions that you have about the process or refer you to someone in your area. We’d love to hear from you answer your question directly, we’ll try to find someone who can.

Photo credit: geralt

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About Suzi Martel

Suzi Martel, founder of In Suzi's Words, is a freelance lifestyle writer who has a passion for writing informative copy on a variety of topics including addiction treatment and drug rehab.

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