The Importance of Aftercare Services for a Complete Recovery


Achieving initial sobriety through a detox program and undergoing inpatient or outpatient treatment services to address an addictive disorder is a huge and commendable first step to managing substance misuse. This, however, is still only the first step of many more steps to come for patients before they gain a handle on their addictive disorder.

How Mental Illness Affects Recovery

Unfortunately, a stint in rehab followed by the willingness to abstain from illicit substances in a patient’s life is not the cure-all that many in addiction recovery desire. Addictive disorders and the resultant continued substance misuse are generally fueled by co-occurring mental health disorders. Certain biological factors make patients more susceptible to addictive disorders but if any underlying mental health issues are not also addressed, patients will find themselves easily triggered and more prone to relapsing. For example, if a patient completes and is discharged from rehab yet fails to address their diagnosed depression, the healthier habits will fall by the wayside as depressive episodes resurface. These episodes wear away at a patient’s desire to remain sober and entice them into seeing substance misuse as a viable solution to those problems. If that patient’s depression is addressed through therapy and attendance at recovery meetings, a significant motivator for substance misuse is taken away.

Patients in early recovery will soon find that treatment for an addictive disorder is a lifelong affair. Finding an appropriate form of aftercare following initial treatment will be essential in maintaining sobriety in the long term. Remission is attainable through constant watch and self-care to allow a shift into the sobriety maintenance stage of recovery.

What Do We Mean by Aftercare Services?

Aftercare services would constitute further care following detox and initial treatment by inpatient or outpatient services. This can be as small as attending regular recovery meetings or as intensive as regular therapy and continuing outpatient treatment services. Every patient will need to determine their comfort levels with their sobriety upon re-entering their independent lives. The primary concern for patients, though, should be to find some degree of continuous aftercare.

As mentioned previously, recovery from an addictive disorder is a lifelong process, and patients should constantly check in with themselves to reassess comfort levels and choose the appropriate level of aftercare to meet their needs to promote long-term recovery. Remission, or five years of continuous sobriety, is certainly attainable, and efforts can be reduced as healthier behaviors take root. However, even those in remission should remain mindful and continue to practice some of the basic tenants of addiction recovery treatment such as keeping a routine, exercising regularly, eating a healthy and balanced diet, and practicing meditation.

Primary Types of Aftercare for Sobriety Maintenance

Below we have listed some of the primary types of aftercare that patients in early recovery should practice to help promote sobriety in the long term.

  • Recovery Meetings: Outside of inpatient service at a rehabilitation facility, recovery meetings hosted by groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Smart Recovery are one of the best resources for continuous aftercare. Meetings are generally held daily or weekly in most local areas. Meetings reinforce the 12-step program, but also provide an active sober community—the perfect introduction to sober socialization. For more information about finding a local addiction recovery meeting, explore this AA link, organized by state, or this Smart Recovery link.
  • Outpatient Services: Outpatient services are more intensive and generally involve scheduled group meetings as well as therapy sessions. Most outpatient services will also provide random drug or alcohol tests to monitor participants’ sobriety. If a patient feels as if they need more guidance and supervision in managing their sobriety after leaving rehab, then outpatient services may be the way to go. Speak with your facility about potential outpatient services in the area, and most facilities that offer inpatient services will also offer an outpatient program. Outpatient programs can be an easy next step to transition from inpatient to independent lives.
  • Therapy: Since the majority of substance misuse from addictive disorders is also fueled by underlying mental health issues, patients should seek out a therapist following their inpatient stay. During inpatient treatment, clients will have begun to broach any mental health disorders with the onsite therapists. However, most mental health disorders or trauma can not be resolved in a mere 90 days, and many patients benefit from continuing treatment. The majority of insurance plans cover some form of mental health coverage for therapist visits. For individuals without insurance, we would highly recommend they seek options that have been made available through the Affordable Health Care Act or a sliding scale clinic, based on income. An addictive disorder as well as any co-occurring mental health issue is a medical condition, and patients benefit monetarily if they can subsidize some of the cost of ongoing treatment with an affordable insurance plan.
  • Self-Care: The term “self-care” gets thrown around a lot in addiction recovery literature because it is probably the most important and easiest aspect of aftercare following an inpatient stay. Self-care means taking time for one’s self to check in and relax. This can involve actively practicing healthy well-being through exercise or meditation, but it can also simply involve zoning out with some television. Patients in early recovery are beset with a multitude of information and practices to follow and it is important for long-term sobriety that patients take time for themselves to avoid the triggers of any mounting stressors.

Addiction recovery is a lifelong process and the majority of clients need to find the appropriate level of aftercare once leaving initial treatment. Being able to reassess and find those methods of treatment can be difficult when navigating an addictive disorder alone. If you or someone you love has an addictive disorder with co-occurring mental health issues, then Choice House has a variety of inpatient and aftercare services that can help promote long-term sobriety goals. We offer men the chance to achieve initial sobriety as they learn through a variety of therapeutic modalities to build a new, sober foundation based on love and empathy. Located in the Boulder County area of Colorado, our recovery treatment services include a 90-day inpatient program, an intensive outpatient service, as well as the opportunity to take up residency at our sober living campus. For both the sober living residents and participants of outpatient services, our facilities are conveniently situated just a short drive from the bustling city of Louisville. Clients can easily maintain work and social lives while receiving the necessary aftercare at Choice House facilities. For more information, please give us a call at (720) 577-4422.

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