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Addiction Aftercare

  1. Article SummaryPrint
  2. Addiction Aftercare Defined
  3. Qualities of a Good Addiction Aftercare Program
  4. The Importance of Addiction Aftercare
  5. Types of Aftercare Programs
  6. Adolescent Addiction Aftercare
  7. Lifetime Addiction Aftercare
  8. Addiction Aftercare Outcomes
  9. Life Beyond Aftercare
  10. Hope and Encouragement

You have admitted that you're addicted to drugs or alcohol or perhaps have admitted to a behavioral addiction, such as an addiction to the Internet, gambling, food, or pornography and have successfully completed an addiction treatment program. The journey to an addiction-free lifestyle doesn't end there. Most addicts, regardless of their addiction, are not ready to function in the everyday world without adequate addiction aftercare.

After completing a treatment program, recovering addicts still require some type of ongoing support for an extended length of time. This phase of recovery, known as aftercare, generally requires involvement in some type of aftercare program, which has been shown to make a huge difference between the addict abstaining from his or her addiction or relapsing.

If you would like help in finding an addiction aftercare treatment program, contact our toll-free 24-hour helpline at 1-888-287-0471, and one of our representatives will direct you to the program that will best meet your recovery needs.


The same 12-step program that is used to help the alcohol or drug addict recover from his or her addiction is also used to help those with behavioral addictions, such as addictions to gambling, sex, or food.

Addiction Aftercare Defined

Addiction aftercare describes programs designed to offer counseling to addicts on an ongoing basis. These clients have typically completed an addiction inpatient or outpatient treatment program. Most aftercare programs will only take clients who have remained chemically or behaviorally abstinent for a certain length of time before being admitted to the program. Aftercare programs generally take place immediately following a residential or outpatient treatment program.
"...the more treatment an addict receives, the better his or her chances are of remaining sober."
Aftercare specifically refers to the services provided by a treatment center to those who have completed one of its programs. The services typically include a variety of clinical services, as well as some type of social networking. Studies have shown that the more treatment an addict receives, the better his or her chances are of remaining sober. In addition to receiving therapeutic services, addicts receive referrals to outside resources and agencies, support for attending 12-step meetings, continued monitoring of medications, one-on-one family therapy, and living sober resources.

Qualities of a Good Addiction Aftercare Program

The standard aftercare program includes random testing for drug or alcohol use. Some programs schedule recreational activities and retreats throughout the year. Most have alumni aftercare programs for those who have completed the aftercare program to meet and talk with current aftercare patients to offer hope and encouragement and to serve as role models. Nearly all aftercare addiction programs schedule sessions or group meetings at convenient times. These are interactive sessions at which participants receive aftercare information and group support. Sessions may also include the following:

  • Vocational skills or job skills development
  • Development of relationship skills
  • Relapse prevention skills
  • Anger and stress management
  • Coping mechanisms for dealing with abstinence
  • Addressing triggers
  • Family dynamics

The Importance of Addiction Aftercare

Overcoming years of addiction is not an easy undertaking for anyone. Completing a treatment program can be lifesaving, but it is just one step in a lengthy, ongoing process toward living an alcohol- or drug-free life. Unfortunately, addicts will never be "cured" of their addiction, but they can come to understand the reasons for their addiction, deal with any contributing factors, learn how to manage and cope with temptations and cravings, and develop healthier behaviors that can sustain them on their journey through recovery.

While going through treatment, recovering addicts became used to a regular schedule of activities, a certain structure, duties and responsibilities, and recreational time. After the treatment has been completed, however, the person often feels lost. He or she is now thrust into the real world to deal with real feelings and real situations, and many recovering addicts are unprepared to deal with this.

Did You Know?

Relapse occurs most often during the first six months after a person has completed an addiction treatment program. For this reason, it is recommended that the recovering addict participate in an addiction aftercare program for a minimum of six months after he or she has completed an addiction treatment program.

Types of Aftercare Programs

Many current alcohol and drug treatment facilities provide addiction aftercare programs as part of an individualized treatment program for their clients. They will offer a residential treatment program or intensive outpatient treatment. Some facilities offer both. In essence, the addiction aftercare program is basically an extension or a continuation of the initial treatment. Each addiction aftercare program is unique, depending on the structure and philosophy of the treatment center. Most will provide group meetings, one-on-one counseling, educational discussions and lectures, and social and recreational activities.

The types of addiction aftercare and rehab programs differ based on the facility providing the aftercare treatment program. Facilities are available that treat adolescents only, men or women only, or adults only. Some treatment facilities will only treat those who are recovering from alcohol or drug addictions, while others will treat all addictions, including behavioral addictions or disorders.

Adolescent Addiction Aftercare

Adolescents who are recovering from an addiction have different needs than adults who are recovering addicts; therefore, addiction aftercare treatment needs to focus on their unique needs. Many teenagers who are recovering from an addiction must learn to accept responsibility for their behavior. Aftercare programs directed at youth attempt to have the adolescent recognize and acknowledge that he or she is to blame for his or her substance abuse problem and must accept personal responsibility. Adolescents in an addiction aftercare program will experience the following:

  • Develop positive self-esteem
  • Participate in recreational activities
  • Understand their addiction
  • Learn relapse prevention skills
  • Understand how their emotions impact their family members
  • Develop healthy behaviors and habits
  • Learn to regulate emotional responses

If your child suffers from an addiction, we can direct you to an adolescent treatment program that can help. If he or she has already completed an addiction treatment program and would like to participate in an aftercare program, call 1-888-287-0471 to find program near you. Our caring representatives are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help you find a program that meets your adolescent's needs.


Most addicts cannot give up their addiction through will power alone. It is generally ineffective because the addictive behavior must be replaced with healthy behaviors. The addict must change his or her ways of thinking about the addiction and oftentimes must give up relationships or friends with whom he or she socializes. This often requires encouragement and support that is only available through addiction rehab programs.

Lifetime Addiction Aftercare

Addicts who have completed primary care programs need to begin looking at long-term rehab aftercare options, which may require the addict's attendance at weekly aftercare meetings over the long term. These clients have generally completed an outpatient program, a day program, or a residential addiction treatment program.

Lifetime aftercare typically involves weekly or regularly scheduled group meetings that are facilitated by an experienced substance abuse counselor. The counselor helps clients meet their unique recovery plans and provides guidance as they examine their recovery options. Group meetings offer the addict feedback and support from the counselor and other participants and give them a forum to explore issues and obstacles they encounter on a daily basis. Ongoing lifetime addiction aftercare programs involve counselors, alumni of treatment programs, families, and the community.

Addiction Aftercare Outcomes

Addiction aftercare helps recovering addicts manage their own lives. Aftercare helps them find the empowerment they need to live their lives free from drugs, alcohol, or behavioral addictions. Addicts learn that they can control their own destinies and that they aren't destined to live a prescribed life that others envision for them.

No one but an addict can choose sobriety for himself or herself, and no one but the recovering addict can choose to remain sober for life. No amount of lectures, treatment, group meetings, or family coaxing will make any difference. In this regard, addiction aftercare programs that help the recovering addict achieve this self-esteem and self-confidence provide opportunities for the best outcomes.

Did You Know?

Studies show that recovering addicts who attend therapy, 12-step meetings, and an aftercare program regularly are significantly less likely to go back to their former addictions or addictive behaviors than they are if they only participate in one of the three.

Life Beyond Aftercare

Unless the recovering addict chooses to participate in a lifetime aftercare program, an aftercare program will come to an end, which occurs for many people after six months to a year. Now the recovering addict is completely on his or her own, struggling with daily temptations, challenges, triggers, and obstacles-although it doesn't have to end this way.

Additional support can always be found from continued attendance at 12-step meetings. Actually, 12-step meetings are nearly always part of an aftercare program, and even though the aftercare program may have ended, the 12-step meetings should continue for an extended length of time. Some recovering addicts continue to attend 12-step meetings as a way to help others. They want to provide support to people who have just started on the path to recovery, just as they found support when they were starting their journey to sobriety. Others attend meetings for reinforcement and to stay connected to one of the most important things in their lives-sobriety.

If you would like more information about 12-step support groups near you, call our free 24-hour helpline. Representatives are there seven days a week to direct you to a support group in your area that is just right for you.

Hope and Encouragement

Life should be about discovery and joy. Following participation in an addiction aftercare treatment program, you should plan for a glorious future. The plans may evolve over time. Once you meet all of your short- and long-term goals, you should immediately begin setting new ones. Finding personal satisfaction, enrichment, the realization of lifelong dreams, meeting someone with whom you can have a lasting relationship-all of these things and more are what you should be hoping for and expecting.

Have faith that you can attain the goals you set for yourself. Believe that you can achieve your dreams. Now is the time to rediscover the joy of daily living that you perhaps overlooked or missed when you were wrapped up in your addiction. You will find that love is waiting for you when you are ready to accept it. Embrace all of the possibilities that can come your way when you live a life of sobriety.


Many people are addicted to prescription drugs, particularly pain medication. In many cases, the addiction is not the fault of the person who is addicted to the drug. Some people begin taking a prescription pain medication for a legitimate short-term use, and it quickly leads to addiction. Addiction treatment programs have helped many who are addicted to prescription drugs overcome their addictions.

If you have completed an addiction treatment program and feel you still need the care and support that come with aftercare treatment, as most recovering addicts do, there are addiction aftercare programs located in every major city and many outlying areas. One of them will be just right for your particular addiction. There's no need for you to call around. Simply call our toll-free national hotline to speak with one of our representatives. A representative will answer any questions you have about addiction treatment inpatient and outpatient programs and can help you find an addiction aftercare treatment program in your area. Our hotline number is 1-888-287-0471. Someone is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call.

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  1. Question: What is a physical addiction?Submitted By: Arlene B.

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      A physical addiction is where the body becomes tolerant to a drug and requires more to function normally. The body stops producing certain chemicals because the drug is creating them. Once the drug is withdrawn, the body will take a while to restart production of these chemicals.

  2. Question: What is a psychological addiction?Submitted By: Gordon B

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      A psychological addiction is where person feels as though he or she cannot function without the drug, particularly in stressful or social situations.

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      A number of cough medicines contain dextromethorphan, also known as DMX, or codeine, which are addictive substances.

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