One of the most overlooked aspects of addiction treatment is addiction aftercare. As difficult as treating an addiction may be, however, maintaining a sober lifestyle requires just as much effort as treating the disorder. Due to the fact that drug and alcohol dependence can only be managed, having a comprehensive addiction aftercare plan is essential.
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While addiction treatment primarily uses therapy to help break an addiction, addiction aftercare usually involves support from family and friends and a commitment to programs like Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
These programs help recovering addicts form a circle of friends who are all dedicated to sober living, to reinforce the techniques learned in therapy, and eventually to find a purpose in helping or sponsoring others who are fighting addictions. Some addicts also find that regular counseling is an important part of remaining addiction-free.
Aftercare programs are designed to reduce the chances of a relapse. Recovering addicts in the aftercare stage will learn:
A staggering 80% of people who go through an addiction recovery program will relapse at least once, with about half of those relapses occurring within the first two months after detox. A large percentage of those who relapse fail to receive adequate aftercare. Some of the most effective relapse prevention tactics include:
For those living with a dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorders, mental health management can be the most important part of addiction aftercare. A mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, or depression, can quickly cause a relapse if it is not managed along with an addiction disorder. Most addiction treatment centers are able to offer dual diagnosis treatment as well as a relapse prevention plan for addicts who also suffer from a mental health disorder.
Since relapses do occur, it is essential for the family and friends of a recovering addict to know how to do an intervention in case of a relapse. Confrontational interventions are the classic intervention models. These include formal interventions, that are carefully planned and conducted with the help of a professional, and informal interventions, which are more like conversations between the addict and loved ones. Forcible interventions can be staged as well, in which the addicted person is admitted to a rehab facility without consent.
In recent years, motivational intervention has become the preferred method of intervention over confrontational models. Some motivational intervention models include:
Confrontational models of intervention often work more quickly, giving the user some sort of ultimatum, but motivational interventions result in lower relapse rates and are designed to help users realize the consequences of their own actions.