Why Is an Aftercare Plan Essential for Long-term Recovery?

Why Is An Aftercare Plan Essential for Long-term Recovery?

Have you heard of aftercare or continuing care in addiction recovery? These terms refer to the stage of recovery following the completion of an intensive treatment phase. Research shows that long-term aftercare or continuing care can produce more positive effects. It has become a consensus among recovery experts that aftercare is not an optional part of a treatment plan, but an essential part. Aftercare ensures that a full continuum of care is in place when it comes to addiction recovery. Experts at Laguna Shores Recovery Center can point it your way.

What Is a Full Continuum of Care?

A full continuum of care refers to a system of treatment protocols addressing a full scope of addiction recovery, from detox to post-sobriety maintenance. The core belief is a patient-centered model of care. Because scientists consider substance addiction as a chronic brain disease, just like other chronic diseases, it makes the most sense that recovering individuals are supported by a system of aftercare. 

Recovery experts have established four stages in a continuum of care: (1) treatment, (2) early recovery, (3) maintenance, and (4) community support. These links should be tightly connected so that people can experience the optimal benefits of a support system made up of health professionals and a supportive family or personal network. Each stage is critical for a healthy and sustainable recovery.

Take treatment for example. Moving individuals through a treatment process without them dropping out after just a few sessions can be challenging. The best way to ensure the completion of treatment is through deep listening and collaboration with the person who needs treatment. Early recovery also has its unique challenges, including making behavioral changes and continuous education. 

Usually, the emphasis on continuum care heavily focuses on the last two stages of maintenance and community support. Maintenance can last from 3 months to a year. Recovering individuals need to diligently apply relapse prevention techniques and quickly contain “slips” in life from becoming full-blown physical relapses. The last stage of community support involves people’s progress toward independence and fulfillment. 

What Should Be Included in an Aftercare Plan?

An aftercare plan includes the elements of care for post-treatment stages when recovering individuals are transitioning back to the home environment. There are essential elements that can be individualized. First of all, there needs to be an emergency intervention plan when physical relapses happen. The danger of post-treatment relapse is the high risk of overdose, which can be life-threatening. 

This emergency plan may entail possible partial hospitalization programs or transitional living options. Or maybe a relapse is a good indicator of the need for ongoing outpatient treatment. Knowing the options in preparation for relapse can help build healthy alertness during aftercare. The more alert a person is and the more active one works on preventing relapses from happening, the better.

The next essential element of an aftercare plan is stress management. A recovering individual should continue to implement the same healthy routines and techniques they are learning during treatment. These may include reflective journaling, mindfulness meditation, and other relaxation skills. The third part of aftercare includes building a strong support network. If a person stays isolated, then he or she is missing a big part of aftercare. A support system is vital to long-term recovery. It may include family, friends, and peers who understand your struggles and commit to providing accountability and care. 

Following Through With an Aftercare Plan

Most people need support to follow through with an aftercare plan. Some rehab facilities will provide case management where the staff helps you identify resources and services in the community. A case manager will regularly check in and coordinate services to guide a person’s continuous aftercare plan. Alumni programs are another alternative way for people to stay connected with a strong recovery community where aftercare is emphasized. Once you learn how to build meaningful relationships with alumni and peers, it is only natural that they become part of your life for the long term. 

Aftercare can also happen in sober living homes. These are living arrangements that help recovering individuals improve their life skills before transitioning to independent home life. Part of having an aftercare plan means that one assesses the living arrangements to be conducive to sobriety. Apart from being substance-free, sober living homes provide no formal treatments. There are rules people need to comply with, and these rules help maintain abstinence. People living in sober homes also pay rent and maintain employment. As long as they comply with these rules, recovering individuals can stay as long as they can. Sober living homes are a better option for young professionals because they offer continued care and peer accountability.

In sum, planning for aftercare should be part of an effective recovery plan. Although a healthy aftercare plan can be varied based on individual needs, it ought to include essential components, such as peer support and accountability, a sober living space, and continued connection to treatment resources. A good aftercare plan should cover all contingencies. Being connected to an aftercare support network can effectively prevent a crisis when real-world challenges happen. Laguna Shores Recovery Center provides the best continuing care programs.

Aftercare helps someone recovering from addiction ease back into their day-to-day routine. Without comprehensive aftercare planning, individuals recovering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol can struggle with isolation, triggers, and other challenges related to the impacts on their lives essential to maintaining sobriety. These challenges and struggles can often lead to relapse among over half of people in recovery. Aftercare and relapse prevention education are crucial to preventing relapse and associated complications associated with relapse. If you are looking for a rehab center that emphasizes aftercare, you do not need to look beyond Laguna Shores Recovery Center. We offer a full continuum of care, including detox, cognitive therapies, holistic methods, 12-Step group meetings, and more. Call (866) 774-1532.