Treatment for opioid addiction does not end when the patient completes a program of detox and treatment. Aftercare is an equally important stage of recovery – and it is essential in preventing relapse. The real test of recovery occurs when the person addicted to opiates has to learn to live everyday life without the opiates.
The statistics can be daunting: some studies have reported alarming rates of relapse with opioid addiction. One study reported a relapse rate of up to 91% in people addicted to opiates - indicating that the relapse risk could be significantly higher for opiates than for other drugs.
The good news is that patients who get effective treatment and take advantage of aftercare services experience lower relapse rates than people who do not participate in aftercare programs.
Some believe relapse is an inevitable part of recovery, and for some people it is. Others achieve sobriety and never look back. The recovery journey will be different for each individual. Either way, aftercare and an ongoing plan for maintaining sobriety can be a lifeline in maintaining recovery long term and learning to bounce back quickly from relapse(s).
This is where the journey of recovery encounters the pits in the road of real life. As challenges arise, aftercare provides the tools needed to navigate the rough spots. Aftercare can mean different things to different people. Ideally, it’s an individualized program that helps to prevent relapse and ensure long-term recovery. It’s important to “practice” living life and balancing recovery, work, and everyday life while connected to an aftercare program
One of the first steps of aftercare includes making a plan for long-term recovery. An aftercare plan might include resources that help a person in recovery cope with stress, triggers, cravings or even relapse.
Envisioning what the future might look like without opiates is another important part of an aftercare plan. Identifying new activities – joining a hiking club or a knitting group - could help promote a drug-free lifestyle. The key is to tie the plan to activities that the person in recovery is passionate about doing. Maybe he or she always wanted to take up hang gliding or dreamed of being an artist. Connecting the aftercare plan with who that person was before the opioid addiction – or who that person always dreamed of becoming – can be one of the keys to lifelong sobriety.
It's also important to avoid the trap of replacement addictions – from taking up smoking, overeating, or gambling, the potential for addiction is everywhere in today’s world. Recognizing the potential is one way to avoid falling into another addiction – and the support team in aftercare can help sound the alarm if they recognize certain behaviors emerging.
Having support for practical issues that are common following an opioid addiction - like finding a job or housing, dealing with legal issues, and other aspects of reintegrating into everyday life – can make all the difference. Some studies have shown that simply remaining in contact with individuals once they leave treatment – even if doing nothing more than touching base, checking in – can have a profound impact.
Whether a person in recovery needs to set up temporary or ongoing addiction counseling and therapy, continue Suboxone treatment, or get linked with peer support or recovery groups, aftercare can help with all of it. Aftercare services are available from our opioid addiction treatment center to help you design what your recovery will look like going forward.
Belonging always has its benefits, and the sense of continued connection and belonging that comes with aftercare services can be its own benefit, but there are many more:
If you or someone you know is battling an opioid addiction, the Art & Science of Recovery is a life-changing opioid addiction treatment center in Broomall, PA, with all the tools necessary for true recovery and healing. Call us today at (610) 624-3098 to see how we can help.