Many individuals first embark upon their substance abuse treatment journey with a period of professionally supervised detox. Depending on the substances abused and the recommendations of a treatment professional, this first-line measure may require medically-assisted detox. Whether or not medications are involved, all formal detox protocols are conducted to allow for the safe, comfortable clearance of substances and their toxic influence from the systems of people in early recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.
Although detox is an effective first step, alone it is rarely adequate for long-term abstinence from alcohol and other drugs. Upon successful completion of detox, many recovering individuals continue on with a period of structured addiction treatment — either in an inpatient/residential or outpatient setting.
In addition, the timeline for rehab or any formal treatment duration will vary, at some point this phase of recovery will approach an end point. Ongoing recovery efforts, however, are likely and encouraged to continue. This is where diligent aftercare planning becomes important. Substance abuse treatment programs that make lasting recovery a priority will not send program participants on their way without a solid discharge plan and connecting them with quality aftercare programs.
“Aftercare” is a general term used to describe any ongoing or follow-up treatment for substance abuse that occurs after an initial rehab program. No matter the setting, treatment provider, or methods used, the goals of addiction aftercare programs are the same and include: to maintain recovery from substance abuse, to find ways to prevent relapse and to achieve a life filled with rewarding relationships and a sense of purpose.
One reason that continuing treatment is essential in all situations is because longstanding substance abuse can, in some cases, alter the normal functioning of the brain. Some of these changes do not instantly reverse once use ends. In fact, they can last long after substance use has terminated.
The physical impact of addiction is often accompanied by several psychological changes—affecting thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that may persist even after the substance is removed from the body. The physiological changes associated with addiction and their potential lasting impacting to both mental and physical health serve to reaffirm the need for long-term treatment.
MEASURING AFTERCARE EFFICACY
Like many serious chronic conditions, there is no easy cure for addiction. Relapse is always a possibility, which makes it challenging to measure the effectiveness of an aftercare program. Effective treatment reduces symptoms, and poor or absent treatment is linked to increased frequency of symptoms or occurrences such as relapse. This is true of addiction as well as other chronic physical health conditions such as: Type 1 Diabetes, Hypertension and Asthma.
Even with treatment, Relapse occurs in between 40-60% of drug addicted people. Relapse is more common in people with fewer supports and more severe additions. It is important to note that relapse does not mean that the previous treatment was unsuccessful. It only indicates that the individual would benefit from restarted, modified, or alternative aftercare options.
A contributor to greater success measured by fewer relapses and longer periods of abstinence is length of treatment. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that most people require at least 90 days of treatment to end their drug use. Longer treatment periods are correlated to better results, which suggests that the duration of treatment may be more important than the type of treatment.
WHY YOU SHOULD NOT WAIT
Whether you are seeking help for yourself or for loved one, you should not wait to capture an opportunity to get help as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder detox and rehab will be because your addiction only gets worse as each day passes.
If you are not struggling with addiction but you are seeking help for someone who is, we encourge you to call us right away so we can start working on getting your loved one into treatment.
Addiction is a very vicious and damaging thing, and it can act fast and hurt someone in very little time. For these reasons, we have created the safest and most successful treatment program avaialable today. Our counsellors can discuss options with you over the phone and work out strategies to get your loved one into treatment as soon as possible and before it is too late.
The Sanctuary is a successful referral program that seeks to benefit individuals who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. We encourage anyone who is interested in our services to call us, and we will do our best to help you or your loved one find sobriety and recovery that lasts a lifetime.