- Powered by American Addiction Centers

Why Extended Recovery Programs Are Important

Recovery Is an Ongoing Process

  • Rehab aftercare, which includes follow-up care a person receives after completing a substance abuse program, helps develop new patterns of living, allowing a person to create new ways to cope and new routines that greatly aid in the recovery process.
  • Aftercare programs can include 12-Step meetings, one-on-one or group counseling and treatment center programs.
  • People in recovery, their families and teenagers can all benefit from aftercare.
  • Some key things to look for in aftercare program include anger management classes, vocational training and activities and outings.


What Happens After Rehab?

When a person completes an addiction treatment program, the temptation is to just return to his or her life and pick up where they left off. Unless there is a plan for continued support and care, recovery can be short lived. This is where an aftercare program comes in.

What Is Aftercare?

Aftercare helps keep people who have completed a treatment program engaged in their recovery and helps them avoid a relapse. There are many different types of rehab aftercare that can be tailored to suit the needs of the individual. No two programs will look exactly alike.

How Long Does Aftercare Last?

Since everyone is different, the amount of time spent in addiction aftercare will be different. Because of this, a rehab aftercare program can last anywhere from a few days to a lifetime. Aftercare programs can also be stopped and then started again if needs or circumstances warrant additional care.

Importance of Long-Term Treatment

The first year out of a drug treatment program is critical.1 A person learns to live a new life without drugs or alcohol. They have to form new patterns and habits, and this process is made much easier with the support of drug treatment aftercare.

A person fresh out of a rehab program faces many stressors. Things are different than they were, and there is not an in-house therapist to talk to like there might have been in the treatment facility.

Each person’s situation is different, and the things that will bring them stress-money, family, job, friends-will vary widely. An addiction aftercare program can help to reduce these stressors and greatly reduce the chances of a relapse.

Risks of Not Having Aftercare

Statistics show that relapse rates can reach as high as 85% within the first year.2 With those in recovery facing such a high probability of relapse, a drug treatment aftercare program is vitally important to their efforts to remain clean and sober.3

Since the rate of relapse decreases with each passing year, long-term aftercare can make a huge difference in preventing a person’s relapse.4

But the trick is getting started with a program right away and following through.

Who Needs Aftercare?

People in Recovery

People in recovery can begin to develop the skills they will need to return to the real world without feeling the need to return to their addictive behavior. These skills could include managing cravings and finding healthy ways to cope with stress.

Family Members of Those in Recovery

When a person with a substance abuse problem goes through recovery, a good aftercare program can help them transition to normal life. But the aftercare is not just helpful for them; it can also benefit their family.

Family members can also learn strategies for helping their loved one cope with life after rehab. They can gain support, get their questions answered and learn what and what not to do to help prevent a relapse.

Teens in Recovery

Adolescents face extra stresses that are unique to their age group.5 The physical, mental and hormonal changes that accompany this time of life make the need for a solid aftercare program even greater.

Special arrangements will need to be made to accommodate an academic schedule, as many individuals in this age group will be enrolled in high school. A specific program tailored to these specific needs can go a long way to decreasing the odds of a relapse.

What to Look for in a Program

When participating in a comprehensive drug treatment aftercare program, it is important that it can meet your needs. Dependent on the type of aftercare program being sought or required, some important qualities to look for include:

  • Random drug or alcohol testing.
  • Activities and outings.
  • Job or vocational training.
  • Visits from alumni.
  • Anger management classes.
  • Skills training.
  • Family sessions.6

It is important that the addiction aftercare program have a wide variety of programs and activities to fit a variety of personalities. Also, it is important that a person feels comfortable with the staff and is willing to share with them.

Types of Long-Term Addiction Aftercare

Some of the more common types of programs are:

  • 12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
  • Programs tailored to men, women, teens or other subsets of the population.
  • Programs linked to treatment centers.
  • Group meetings with others at similar stages of their own recovery.
  • One-on-one sessions with a therapist or a substance abuse counselor.

It is up to the recovering person, their family and counselors to find the program that fits them and will offer the best support for their unique needs.

Family vs. Addict Programs

Aftercare programs for family members will differ from those for the addict. Having a recovering addict return home and work on re-integration into the family produces its own stresses. Often there are unresolved issues that need to be overcome, especially surrounding trust.

Family programs will offer counseling, both one-on-one and in groups, and will also offer classes on how to be supportive without enabling the addict to return to previous behaviors. Educational programs that give information about the addiction and can give insight into why it occurred are also helpful.

Contact a treatment support specialist at if you’re looking for a rehab aftercare program for you or your loved one.