Aftercare & Life After Addiction Treatment

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Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is a lifelong process. Addiction is a chronic medical disease that, like other chronic diseases, requires follow up care to reduce the risk of relapse. Aftercare, more commonly referred to as “continuing care” is a broad term that encompasses a period of less intensive treatment following a more intensive initial treatment episode. It is used to continue and reinforce skills and progress made in initial recovery and is generally recommended following initial treatment of substance use disorders.1,2 This article will discuss rehab aftercare and how treatment facilities like AdCare provide ongoing support to people in recovery.

What Is Rehab Aftercare?

alumni group post rehab

Drug and alcohol addiction is considered a chronic medical disorder, and, like diabetes, asthma or other chronic illnesses, many people require support after they have successfully finished an initial drug and alcohol rehab program.3  Over half of patients in treatment for substance use disorders relapse within the first year after entering addiction treatment, and they remain at heightened risk of relapse throughout the early years of recovery.1

Aftercare treatment for addiction is intended to keep the disease of addiction in remission. Also commonly referred to as “continuing care,” “step-down care,” or “maintenance activities”, rehab aftercare programs provide ongoing assistance for people managing their addiction long-term.4,5 Patients typically begin rehab aftercare programs following the completion of a more intensive period of initial treatment:

Types of Aftercare Programs

People attending a alcoholic recovery group after leaving treatment

Rehab aftercare can take many forms depending on the level of support a person needs after rehab. The transition from a more intense rehab program to an aftercare program is sometimes referred to as a “step-down” plan, as patients gradually reduce the amount and intensity of support as they become more comfortable with managing their sobriety.4

Aftercare treatment can include care that is provided in a variety of formats and modalities. Types of rehab aftercare programs include the following:

  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP) Patients remain at home at night and attend therapy services during the day, typically in three-hour sessions three times a week. Sessions per week and hours per session can vary depending on the program and the needs of each individual.6
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP) – Similar to IOPs, patients obtain treatment services provided by medical and non-medical staff during the day and return home at night. A PHP is considered a slightly more intense program than an IOP and generally involves more therapy hours per week.4
  • Outpatient treatment – Similar to an IOP and a PHP, outpatient programs provide counseling services during the day. Outpatient programs provide fewer hours of counseling services than IOP and PHP programs, and it is important that participants have a stable living environment, a source of transportation, and a strong support network while obtaining this form of aftercare.7
  • Sober living community – Sober living offers a community of people in recovery who would like to transition to independent living but who can benefit from living in an environment that supports sobriety. Many sober living programs offer employment and educational services to promote successful adjustment into their regular lives.7
  • Telehealth or telephone counseling/check-ins– Also known as telemedicine, continued support after rehab is offered via phone or online. It can be a useful resource for people who are unable to reliably get to a treatment facility for counseling.7
  • Self-help or mutual support groups – Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are communities that can be “highly valuable for ongoing sobriety maintenance.”4 Other forms of aftercare can also include the following:1,2,5 
  • Group counseling
  • Individual therapy
  • Home visits and brief check-ups
  • Medication
  • Apps and SMS-based care

Additionally, long-term therapy post-addiction rehab has proven to be highly effective for those who are recovering from an opioid use disorder. Continuing to participate in therapy can help to reduce addiction relapse rates in this particular population.

Creating a Rehab Aftercare Plan

Doctor discussing rehab with patient

AdCare’s team of compassionate medical professionals develop an aftercare plan for each patient prior to their departure from treatment. They will work with each patient to decide the best path forward, which may be more or less intensive depending on an individual’s treatment goals.

For some, this may include the involvement of family and loved ones in the recovery process. Studies have shown that support from friends, family, and peers are an important factor in long-term addiction recovery.5,8 Many resources are available on helping a loved one with addiction and how family services can be integrated into substance abuse treatment.

Addiction Relapse Prevention During Aftercare

Aftercare can help prevent relapse (returning to drug or alcohol use after a period of abstinence) by assisting individuals in maintaining abstinence and keeping their recovery momentum.3 Because of the chronic nature of addiction, relapse is as common as it is for other chronic diseases, but attending rehab and participating in treatment for addiction can provide individuals with the tools needed to maintain their recovery and lead happy drug and alcohol free lives.3,4

While addiction rehab programs teach patients relapse prevention skills, aftercare programs refine and strengthen relapse prevention through learning new skills or providing opportunities to practice those skills.4 Patients in programs for addiction recovery continue to build relapse prevention through:8

  • Strengthening skills to resist drug use.
  • Continuing to improve problem-solving, coping, and communication skills.
  • Building strong and healthy interpersonal relationships.
  • Engaging in peer support activities.

Completing a drug and alcohol treatment program is a momentous achievement and a proud moment for many. Whether it is alcohol rehab aftercare or drug rehab aftercare, continued maintenance of recovery is important for long-term success. As stated by the United States Surgeon General’s report on alcohol, drugs, and health, “with comprehensive continuing care, recovery is now an achievable outcome.”9

For more questions on how to start treatment, types of treatment, or how insurance coverage works, reach out to AdCare’s admissions navigators who are available 24/7 at to get more information and begin your recovery journey today. You can also take your first steps towards recovery and have your insurance verified through our


Quality Aftercare Just For You

At AdCare, New England's premier drug treatment center, we offer a variety of services to help individuals struggling with addiction find hope. Our many aftercare programming options can help you continue to build a strong foundation for your long-term recovery.
  • Start the Admissions Process

    Our admissions navigators are available 24/7 to answer questions, navigate health insurance coverage for rehab, and get you admitted to the ideal addiction treatment program. Contact us at right now.

  • Begin Treatment

    We will work directly with you to ensure that you are placed in a treatment program that serves you best. Whether that is inpatient or outpatient treatment, we will help you find the best fit.

  • Consider Aftercare Programming

    After you have completed your treatment, consider strengthening your recovery by continuing on with an aftercare plan. We can help you develop one that meets your unique needs.

  • Stay Connected With Our Alumni App

    After you complete your treatment with us, we encourage you to join our alumni program. Attend recovery meetings, monthly social events, and receive the encouragement you need to stay sober long-term. Connect with other alumni and continue to experience the supportive community you found during treatment. AdCare Rhode Island Alumni AdCare Hospital Alumni

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