What Is Aftercare and Why Is It Important for a Recovering Addict?

Last Updated: Jul 23rd 2019

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

When you suffer from an addiction, you don’t just start using drugs or alcohol, you also surrender the productive version of yourself. You stop playing an active role in your family and workplace and begin to focus on instant gratification.

Entering a rehab program is a great way to get back on track. But, life is a journey and quitting drugs or alcohol is just the first step on the path to sobriety. If you want to keep walking the sober line, you have to take steps for your aftercare.

What is aftercare? It’s your way through the complex and demanding state of sobriety that you are about to enter. It’s the tools in your toolkit that will allow you to keep making progress. Read on to learn more.

What is Aftercare (And What to Expect)?

When you embark on your substance abuse recovery treatment path, you usually start with a period of supervision while you detox. Then, you go into an inpatient program so that you can learn the tools you need to fight your addiction in the everyday world.

If you’ve recently completed inpatient treatment, then you need to take steps to set up a drug-free lifestyle for yourself. That means making friends and creating support systems for yourself to aid in your recovery. Getting healthy is a lifelong commitment.

In aftercare treatment, you will learn about the recovery process and stay free of the bad influence of people that you used to use with. The goal is to maintain your recovery, prevent relapse, and give your life a renewed sense of purpose. 

Why is Aftercare Important?

Many people go to aftercare because they need additional support while they get sober. When you use drugs or alcohol for a long time, it begins to change the way your brain is structured. Over time, your thought patterns change completely and you can become more likely to relapse. 

In order to stay sober, many people need to reaffirm their commitment to sobriety with a long-term treatment plan. Relapse is always a possibility and reducing the frequency of thoughts regarding use is one of the goals of treatment. An aftercare program can help you keep your mind on progress.

The Importance of Outpatient Therapy

Outpatient therapy is a great way to reduce or eliminate your addiction to drugs or alcohol. You attend regularly scheduled treatment and counseling sessions.

Sometimes outpatient therapy is done in a group setting where you will have the opportunity to meet other people who are going through the same process as you and learn from their mistakes and successes.

Other times, you may want to attend outpatient therapy on your own so that you can work through the issues that led to your addiction in the first place. 

How Aftercare Helps

When you start living your life after rehab, you will need help in a lot of ways. You will have to build new relationships with people who support you in your sobriety. 

You will need child care while you continue your treatment. You may also need housing and transportation help right when you get out of treatment. Many of these services can be performed by an aftercare facility. 

They can also help you get your finances in order and help you find legal support if you need any because of legal trouble caused by your addiction.

They will also direct you towards programs that allow you to get an education and a job and they can also put you in touch with people who can help you get tested for illnesses like HIV and hepatitis. 

The help you get will be custom tailored to your needs. That way, you can focus on your recovery and have a better chance of not relapsing. If you don’t give attention to all of these areas of your life, then things could start to fall apart.

Finding Alternative Activities and Outlets

One of the most important parts of your recovery is finding new activities in your community that you can do while you are sober. That is how you are going to gain momentum for your recovery and make friends with people who can help you stay sober. 

Many people give up their favorite hobbies when they start a drug or alcohol addiction. If you have given up something you love, today is the day to pick it back up. 

If you always went outside for a pickup game of basketball, why not go to your local gym and find a group of people that are playing? 

Or if you were always an artistic person, there are lots of workshops going on in your community that would love to have you involved. Try looking online on websites like MeetUp and Facebook to find events that are open to the public. 

You may even be able to find a group of other sober people that agree to do fun activities together. That way, you won’t have any temptations from people who don’t know that you’re in recovery. 

Where to Go for Help

Now that you know the answer to what is aftercare, you should start to look for programs in your area that can aid in your recovery. It’s so important that you make sobriety an active mission in your life. Change starts today. 

You’re not alone on your journey to health. Let us guide you through it, if you’re just beginning your recovery process, contact us today for help. 

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.