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Addiction Treatment Aftercare

John Schaffer, LPCC

Medically reviewed by

John Schaffer, LPCC

February 1, 2019

Entering and completing an addiction treatment program may be one of the hardest, yet most rewarding choices an individual ever makes. Taking the time to heal from addiction within an inpatient program is just as important as finding the right aftercare program. Aftercare helps individuals employ principles learned in treatment allowing them a greater chance of leading a substance-free life long-term.

What Is Addiction Treatment Aftercare?

Aftercare occurs in many different forms and individuals can seek it according to their specific needs. Aftercare programs include intensive outpatient programs, partial hospitalization programs, outpatient programs, counseling, therapy, support groups, sober living homes, and peer and family support.

Whatever type of aftercare program or method a person chooses, it should fit their individual needs for continued recovery.

Aftercare can include a “step-down” method, in which a person who has completed an inpatient treatment program steps down to a less intense form of treatment program while integrating back into his or her daily routine. The purpose of this method is to allow each individual to heal at the pace needed to ensure the best opportunity of maintaining sobriety long-term.

Some people may not need or choose to enter a secondary treatment program but may continue to seek aftercare in the form of self-help groups, continued counseling, sobriety sponsors, and more on their own terms.

No matter the method, aftercare (also called continued care) is incredibly important to a person’s recovery goals. The following types of aftercare are some of the best types of help available to people newly entering addiction recovery.

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Intensive Outpatient Programs

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPS) work well for individuals stepping down from inpatient treatment and who are not in need of detoxification. IOPs are usually 10 to 12 hours per week, for approximately two to three hours per day, four or five days per week.

People in intensive outpatient programs will be able to participate in their daily lives, such as work or school, and attend treatment services in the morning or evening and return home at night. IOPs generally encourage 12-step programs, as well as therapy and counseling.

Partial Hospitalization Programs

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) work similarly to intensive outpatient programs, however, the hours of a PHP may be longer per day. For example, some programs may last on a half-day basis of three or four hours, or for a full-day basis of six to eight hours.

Patients attend treatment services in a facility and will have access to a variety of services, depending on the facility and their individual needs. Types of treatment within partial hospitalization programs may include medication-assisted therapy (MAT), clinical assessments, and group, family, and individual therapy and counseling.

Outpatient Addiction Treatment Programs

Outpatient addiction treatment programs are similar to PHPs and IOPs, with less intensity. Outpatient programs may be part of a solid aftercare plan after a person has completed an IOP, PHP, or inpatient drug rehab program.

Many outpatient programs include participation in a 12-step group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, and also include therapy, usually at the group and/or individual levels. Outpatient services may occur several times per week, once a week, bi-weekly, monthly, or on some other schedule, depending on the program.

Sober Living Homes

For many individuals newly in recovery, integrating from an inpatient drug rehab program to a sober living environment can mean the difference between staying sober long-term and falling into relapse. Sober living homes bring together people in recovery so they can share experiences, hold each other accountable, and offer strength in support.

Self-Help Groups

Self-help groups may be sought in addition to outpatient or other programs, or they may be the only form of aftercare a person needs after he or she has been in recovery for a while. Some self-help groups follow the structure of a 12-step program, which relies on belief in surrendering to a higher power. Others may be structured less formally, according to the needs of those in recovery in a local area.

Family And Peer Support

One of the most important components of both addiction treatment and aftercare is family and peer support. Having a strong support system who shares in recovery goals can help individuals stay the path of sobriety. Many rehab centers provide program graduates with connections to their peers for continued support after treatment, but peers may also be found within self-help groups and outpatient programs.

Counseling And Continued Therapy

No matter the program a person chooses for their aftercare plan, two of the most important types of continued treatment are counseling and therapy. The amount and intensity of these treatment services will depend on the individual, his or her progress, the strength of the individual aftercare plan, and how long he or she has been in recovery. The end goal is to continue necessary treatments for as long as a person needs to maintain a substance-free life long-term.

Get Help Finding Aftercare

Addiction recovery is not a one-step healing process, but a long-term journey for an illness which requires management. Aftercare should be focused on preventing relapse. Finding aftercare that works for you is as important as choosing the right drug rehab program.

Learn more about drug rehab centers and addiction treatment aftercare today.

National Center for Biotechnology Information - Services In Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs, Definition Of Partial Hospitalization

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Types Of Treatment

U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health - What Did We Learn From Our Study on Sober Living Homes And Where Do We Go from Here?

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