4 Reasons Why Aftercare is Vital to Success in Long-Term Recovery

A group of people walking together in a field

You’ve done the hard work. You went to drug rehab, followed your addiction recovery program to the end, and now you’re home free. Or are you?

Just because you’re no longer abusing drugs doesn’t mean that you don’t need additional support, encouragement, and care. That’s what aftercare is all about — giving you the tools and support you need to continue on your lifelong road to recover.

That’s why you should think of aftercare as simply the next phase of recovery after the several weeks or months you spent in rehab. For this phase, you’ll spend at least three to six months — perhaps even longer, if possible — in a halfway house, sober living group home or similar facility getting the follow-up help you still need. Here’s why.

1. You’re New to Living Clean

You still need a buffer between your new life and the life you lived when you were using. You don’t need to return to old haunts or the old “friends” who instigated your using ways in the past. Life in a halfway house or sober living group home is far removed geographically and emotionally from your high-risk past. It gives you the much-needed time away from temptation until your sobriety isn’t so new and fragile.

2. You Need a Gradual Return to Freedom

You hated the total lack of choice when you first went to rehab. You were told when to get up and when to go to bed. It felt that every waking moment was structured, but you came to see this as a needed distraction from your habit and the immediate problems you faced. Over time, you got used to that structured existence and even came to depend on it.

Now comes abrupt change. You’re going back to your old life with nothing but empty hours and freedom. Does that sound like a responsible transition from rehab?

Aftercare in a sober living facility provides, at the very least, a stepping stone from the tight reins of rehab and all of the potentially dangerous freedom you’re likely to find in an abrupt move back to your old surroundings. It’s a gradual and much safer return to the real world. You’ll have house rules and expectations, and, yes, random drug testing. But you’ll also have much more choice in how you spend your days. You can socialize, get a job or go to school, interact with the world just like everyone else — as long as you stay clean.

3. You’ll Get the Support You Need

Aftercare isn’t just a place to stay before you go back to your old life. It’s not just a bed and a roof overhead. Depending on your needs and the program in which you’re involved, your aftercare plan might include medication, counseling and regular contact with a trusted sponsor.

The point is, aftercare is all about relapse prevention. It’s about hanging out with other sober people who are leading responsible lives. The addiction recovery professionals with which you’ll be in contact in an aftercare program know all about the many triggers and temptations at this stage in your recovery and how to help you stay safe. You’re not likely to find this level of expertise and support anywhere else in the outside world.

4. Aftercare Supports Your Goals toward Lifelong Recovery

You’re not looking to stay clean for a month or a year or a decade. It’s lifelong for you. Your aftercare professionals will be able to help you understand your triggers and stay free of risk.

If you or someone you love is in need of drug rehab or in the early days of recovery, call us at Purpose Healing Center. We’ll discuss your situation and help you see why aftercare is so vital to long-term success.