Particularly amongst the public and mainstream media, rehabilitation is often viewed as a ‘one and done’ process; You attend rehabilitation, work through your problems and are released back into the world a ‘fixed’ individual.
The reality of the process is different, of course. Rehabilitation is an educative and illuminating beginning to a permanently changed lifestyle. The discipline and perspective built into an adult during their recovery arms them for a fight they will continue with the rest of their lives. In time, living free of the harmful influence and compulsion of substances is made easier, but it’s an ongoing challenge – and that challenge is made easier through continued aftercare.
Although studies vary from country to country, it’s generally accepted that 60% of people who leave residential rehabilitation will relapse within their first year unless aftercare is available and provided in a structured manner. With inpatient residential offerings costing as much as £25,000 or more, the risk of repeated relapses and a fall back into the spiral of addiction is serious, to say the least.
In addition to the value of family and friends in forming a supportive social network around an adult recently done with their rehab programme, it’s vital for the providers of that programme to offer aftercare – and to discuss it in detail while treatment is ongoing.
The reality of leaving rehab
Rehabilitation programmes, particularly those that are residential, are challenging. They work, but they place the participant in a unique space. Supervision by staff is either constant or almost so, with the individual becoming part of a community of other residents who live among professionals for the duration of their treatment.
Intensive care is offered, with all of every day structured around solo and group work. Nutrition is planned and private meetings with therapists allotted throughout the week. The stressors and influencing factors of daily life outside the centre are removed entirely.
And that last point is exactly why relapses are so dangerous and prevalent without aftercare in place. Picture the scene; you emerge from your treatment and centre reinvigorated and armed with a profound understanding of yourself and what led you to substance abuse. You return to work, the world and the rooms and roads you once lived in and walked through as an addict or misuser of problematic substances.
And the world hits you. You go to sleep in the same room you were once abusing substances in, you shop in the same stores where you walk past the aisles of alcohol you once drank so much of. You see friends who may encourage you to come on nights out again, placing you at or adjacent to places where drugs and alcohol are consumed.
The decisive difference
Without aftercare in place to help a recovering individual, the return of these daily stressors can be disastrous. Once primary treatment ends and a return to normal life is imminent, it’s incredibly important for a plan of action to be in place. Ongoing support not only for the recovering person but also their family and loved ones should be made available.
Face to face sessions and the availability of professionals over the phone are decisive in helping a recovering adult through their adjustment back into society. As the first year passes and time goes on, drug addiction symptoms and the risk of relapse in recovered individuals drops significantly, making the gradual easing of aftercare safe and realistic.
Although the influence of addiction may indeed linger for a lifetime, aftercare remains the vital means in which an adult who has completed a rehab programme can reintegrate into life and remain resilient. Achieving this, a fulfilling and healthy life free of substance abuse lies ahead.
Guest Author Bio
Tim Woodley has been a professional writer for over 8 years, using his experience and skill to draw out and discuss interesting subjects and learning points that help make life better.