During addiction treatment, counselors probably advised you to seek continuing care when the program was completed. In fact, many addiction treatment plans have a section of their facility dedicated to aftercare. These recommendations for aftercare occur because most recovering addicts need help to avoid relapse and to maintain sobriety. Many continuing care programs are focused on teens and young adults, but people of any age benefit from these services. To understand more about continuing care, learn the role of continuing care, seek an example of its use in a college setting and realize that working one on one with a counselor is also an effective service in continuing care.
About Continuing Care
The Treatment Research Institute and Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has created a website that describes continuing care; while the site’s article, A Parent’s Guide to Your Teen’s Recovery from Substance Abuse, focuses on teens, many of its principles about continuing care apply to all age groups. For instance, continuing care, sometimes called aftercare, is the umbrella term for activities and services people should consider after they complete a formal addiction treatment program. These activities and services may include the following list:
- Direct communication with the treatment program after the patient leaves
- Outpatient counseling sessions (group or individual)
- Phone follow-ups
- Activities that take place in community support organizations
Additionally, optimal care options include the following services:
- Drug testing and feedback
- Counseling or family therapy for parents and adolescents
- Social skills training
- Case coordination with schools and probation officers
Because there are so many activities and services to consider, start planning for continuing care while you are in the treatment program. Counselors, group therapy sessions and other staff can provide insight or firsthand experience with the various options to help you make your decisions.
If a treatment facility does not create a continuing care plan, then parents and addicts could work with a counselor or medical professional to create one with the following elements:
- Meeting with a counselor or support group at least twice a week for the first month
- At least weekly sessions for the next two months
- Two sessions per month for at least four more months
- Continued regular checkups and monitoring via drug testing provided by a professional
- New activities that bring the recovering addict into contact with friends who are positive influences and who neither drink nor use drugs
Periodically adjust a continuing care plan based on progress, because this action not only acknowledges progress, but it also addresses other needs that arise throughout recovery.
Continuing Care in College
College can be distressing for students who are trying to shake addiction. After rehab ends, some people do not return to school, or they live at home while continuing their studies. However, students who live on campus often face relapse triggers, such as old drinking and drugging buddies, stress over exams, finances and social lives. When people face these problems without a supportive environment, relapse can quickly occur.
To respond to many students’ need for support, many college and universities offer solutions, which the New York Times post, A Bridge to Recovery on Campus, says includes the following thoughts:
- In 1988, Rutgers started what is believed to be the first residential recovery program on a college campus, in response to the need of students struggling to abstain as dorm-mates partied
- In 2002, the nonprofit Association of Recovery Schools was formed and four colleges joined. Now, there are more than 20 programs in colleges, large and small, public and private and more in the pipeline.
- Some of the colleges and universities provide either separate housing or substance-free housing
- Some offer programs, for which students typically pay no additional fees, that focus on relapse prevention classes, community service opportunities and an array of social activities
As awareness increases about the numbers of students who are recovering from addiction, and as people recognize that the typical college does not support recovery, more college and universities are innovating ways to provide continuing care.
Continuing Care with a Counselor
In the continuing care arena, many people find what they need by committing to support groups. However, some people believe that the individualized attention from a counselor offers the greatest opportunity to avoid relapse. The Helpguide.org post, Finding a Therapist Who Can Help You Heal, offers information about types of therapies, finding the right therapist, ways to improve the counseling experience, how to pay for therapy and even knowing when you can stop therapy. Understand that seeing a therapist is your choice, so it is also your choice when to stop doing so. Some people continue to go to therapy on an ongoing basis—if you have no people to turn to for support, then continuing to see a therapist is wise. Furthermore, if therapy meets an important need in your life and the expense is not an issue, then continuing indefinitely makes sense.
How to Learn More About Continuing Care
Continuing care is critical for the success of your recovery. You have many options to explore, so please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you have about continuing care and other resources that can help you get and stay clean.