Substance Use

Rehab Aftercare Programs For Drug & Alcohol Addiction

people in circle group support

Table of Contents

Get Help Now

check insurance
Check your insurance by using our Online Form
call us
Talk to someone now.
Call (855) 430-9439

Addiction recovery is a lifelong process and does not end once rehab is completed. Aftercare programs exist to ensure you or a loved one remain healthy and sober, one step at a time. Maintaining a sober life means developing healthy habits that can be sustained throughout an addict’s lifetime.

While the earlier stages of recovery are often discussed, some of the most important work comes after drug or alcohol addiction treatment ends. Aftercare and sober living programs are important in developing a variety of long-term recovery skills.

Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us

The Journey to Recovery

The journey to recovery from substance use disorder consists of several steps that start with participating in comprehensive treatment programs. These programs have the goal of tackling the physical, psychological, and social aspects of addiction. They give people the tools and support they need to deal with substance abuse – and remain alcohol and drug-free.

However, the recovery process is not just about completing initial treatment; it’s also about continuing with the post-treatment phase which has aftercare programs that play a huge role in recovery. Enrolling in aftercare programs increases the likelihood of maintaining sobriety. 

Studies show lower rates of relapse and higher levels of overall functioning among people who take part in aftercare programs. Continuing care for longer periods that includes keeping patients engaged may produce more consistent positive results. Moreover, patients at higher risk for relapse may benefit to a greater degree from an aftercare plan. (3)

The journey to recovery is characterized by perseverance, resilience, and the willingness to seek and accept support throughout the process, ultimately leading to a healthier and more fulfilling life free from the grips of addiction. Drug and alcohol aftercare programs offer ongoing support and resources to such.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is defined as a compulsive need for compulsive physiological need for and use of a habit-forming substance (like heroin or nicotine), characterized by tolerance and well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal. It has also been used more broadly to refer to the compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be physically, psychologically, or socially harmful. (1)

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains addiction as a medical disorder that affects the brain and changes behavior. (2) Its persistent nature and the high chances that it might occur again even after periods of abstinence are highlighted as important to note. Several factors can contribute to addiction, such as:

  • Environmental influences
  • Genetic susceptibility
  • Underlying mental health conditions

The Reality of Relapsing

It’s no secret that addiction can be incredibly hard to overcome. A former drug user or drinker may have ingrained patterns developed over months, years, and decades that can be hard to break.

They may use drugs or alcohol to combat stress, boredom, and anxiety. They may not feel like they are able to cope with life without substances.

Temptation is another obstacle to staying sober. An addict may be confronted with drugs or alcohol at social gatherings. They may run into people with whom they formerly used drugs or drank, and that could trigger a relapse. Alcohol, in particular, is readily available and easy to access.

One relapse may be all it takes for a former addict to start regularly using again. They may see relapse as a complete failure rather than a bump in the road.

They might tell themselves that they failed at sobriety and convince themselves there is no point in trying anymore. Aftercare can help change that type of mindset.

The first year of recovery is the most important for aftercare. This is because the addict will be dealing with significant changes in their life. During this time, they need a support system and all the help they can get to navigate their newly sober life. The more comprehensive the aftercare program is, the more effective it will be in preventing a relapse.

What Are Drug and Alcohol Aftercare Programs?

Drug and alcohol aftercare programs help people stay sober. The time spent in a rehabilitation facility is often only a small part of recovery from addiction.

While it is crucial to create a strong foundation, some of the most challenging work comes after substance abuse treatment is over.

Most people only spend 30 to 90 days in a treatment center. This may seem insignificant compared to the following years spent outside the rehab center while remaining sober and dealing with the challenges of everyday life.

Fortunately, many aftercare programs have been created to help recovering addicts remain sober post-treatment. Aftercare programs can provide the support an individual needs to maintain sobriety while readjusting to the outside world and all the negative influences it may bring.

The important aspects of continuing care in the recovery process involve:

  • Maintaining abstinence/initial treatment gains
  • Addressing relapse/non-response, including limiting the gravity of relapses
  • Ensuring that patients have sources of support around them

They also involve other recovery issues like employment, recreation, housing, and involvement in meaningful and enjoyable activities. A lot of these interventions focus on making goals and getting rid of things that get in the way of reaching those goals.

They also boost self-confidence, skill levels, and help patients take care of themselves by giving them information about community tools and supporting self-management. (3)

Why Are Substance Abuse Aftercare Programs Important?

A good aftercare program can prevent former drug users and alcoholics from relapsing. Studies show that anywhere from 40%–60% of addicts relapse in the first month after leaving a rehab program. Even worse, 85% of people relapse in the first year after a rehabilitation program.

Aftercare services for substance abuse are important parts of the recovery process for people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. While both inpatient and outpatient care programs are important for long-term recovery, they don’t cover everything.

These include:

  • Detox
  • Provide crucial initial support and intervention
  • Aftercare services

People who leave structured treatment settings and reenter their communities can get ongoing help, resources, and guidance from these programs.

Aftercare programs for drug abuse help people deal with the problems and temptations of everyday life while staying sober by offering ongoing counseling, therapy, and support groups. They are an important link between the intensive treatment part and the person’s ongoing path to health and stability.

Aftercare services make treatment much more effective by lowering the chance of relapse and encouraging long-term recovery.

Continuing care, a period of less intensive treatment following a more intensive initial treatment episode, has been utilized to extend and reinforce an initial period of recovery and is recommended in several guidelines for the treatment of substance use disorders. (4)

So, aftercare programs for substance abuse are necessary parts of all types of treatment because they make sure that people get the continuing help they need to stay sober and rebuild their lives after addiction treatment programs.

Types of Drug and Alcohol Aftercare Programs

There are several options when it comes to aftercare programs for addicts. Choosing a program that best meets your needs helps lay a strong foundation for sober habits.

From coping skills to relapse prevention, aftercare treatment is fundamental to remaining healthy and sober.

1. Rehab-Based Programs

Many rehab centers provide their own aftercare programs for patients who have finished their time in the treatment facility.

These facility-based programs often provide:

  • Arrangements for a sober living home
  • Therapy options
  • Medical evaluations
  • Support groups (people who have completed the same treatment) 

Many rehab facilities – whether drug rehab or alcohol rehab – will make these options easily accessible to their patients.

The professionals at Zinnia Health can help you develop an aftercare program that will help you start your recovery journey on the right foot. The treatment center offers a variety of therapy options that are evidence-based and holistic.

The experts specialize in treating the underlying causes of alcoholism and drug addiction to help patients embark on a lifelong recovery journey.

2. Sober Living Homes

A sober living home (sometimes referred to as a “halfway house”) is a residence for people to stay, live, and recover from addiction after their time in a drug and alcohol treatment center. Usually, someone staying in a sober living home will contribute to the community by doing chores and following all the house rules, but they can usually leave for work or school and return as they please.

The rules, expectations, and community in these special living accommodations give recovering addicts the support and structure they need to ease their transition back into their lives. Some are privately owned, and some homes are owned by larger businesses and organizations.

This setting can help people stay sober and healthy as they get used to their new lives. Finding sober living housing can be very helpful for someone who is trying to get better.

Recovery housing has been linked to many good outcomes for its residents, such as:

  • Less drug use
  • A lower chance of using again
  • A lower risk of going to jail
  • A higher income
  • More jobs
  • Better relationships with family and friends (5)

In a study by the Alcohol Research Group Public Health Institute, they found positive outcomes for the 300 individuals they tracked in sober living homes. They found significant improvements in levels of alcohol and drug use, arrests, psychiatric symptoms, and employment.

3. Therapy and Counseling

There are many therapy options for recovering addicts, and everyone will respond differently. While treatment usually consists of daily therapy sessions – whether group or individual therapy, sessions should continue during the aftercare process to remain mentally healthy and stable. Newly sober people should attend one or more weekly counseling sessions, whether those are individual sessions or group sessions.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common form of therapy for addiction. It focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and beliefs that may be causing destructive behavior.

CBT gives patients coping strategies to deal with negative thoughts. This way, they can prevent problems from arising or deal with them better when they do arise.

Multiple meta-analyses and reviews over the past 30 years have concluded that CBT is an effective treatment across a range of substance use disorders. The most recent study indicated that 58% of patients receiving CBT fared better than those in the comparison condition. (6)

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is another form of psychotherapy that can be useful in addiction recovery aftercare. The main goal of DBT is to teach people skills they can use to manage painful emotions.

Some of the techniques it teaches are mindfulness, emotional regulation, communication, and increasing tolerance for negative emotions.

Several randomized clinical trials have found that DBT for Substance Abusers decreased substance abuse in patients with borderline personality disorder. The treatment also may be helpful for patients who have other severe disorders co-occurring with SUDs or who have not responded to other evidence-based SUD therapies. (7)

Holistic therapy looks at the person as a whole rather than just their symptoms. It focuses on the relationships between body, mind, and spirit. The goal is to raise awareness of the connections between various aspects of the self, such as emotions, behavior, and physical health. This can boost self-esteem and self-acceptance.

4. Support Groups

The widespread use of support groups in the substance abuse treatment field originated in the self-help tradition in the field. These groups also have roots in the realization that significant lifestyle change is the long-term goal in treatment and that support groups can play a major role in such life transitions.

Self-help groups share many of the tenets of support groups, including:

  • Unconditional acceptance
  • Inward reflection
  • Open and honest interpersonal interaction
  • Commitment to change

These groups attempt to help people with dependencies sustain abstinence without necessarily understanding the determinants of their dependence. (8)

Well-established support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous can provide a supportive group of people that a recovering addict can rely on. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are both 12-step programs that have been proven to help individuals get back on their feet.

Studies suggest that AA participation is predictive of greater abstinent outcomes. In a long-term, naturalistic study of individuals with alcohol SUD, greater duration of AA involvement in year one was predictive of higher rates of abstinence, fewer drinking problems, greater self-efficacy, and better social functioning.

In another five-year study examining the association of AA and NA meeting attendance on abstinence from opiates, stimulants, and alcohol, results indicated that weekly or greater meeting frequency significantly increased the odds of abstinence. (9)

The main goal of support groups such as AA and NA is to provide safe, supportive environments where people can share their experiences of addiction.

The 12-step meetings include guidelines that are steps for recovery and social support, these include:

  • Admitting that substance use is a problem
  • Making amends to those harmed by the addiction
  • Continuing to take personal inventory

The individuals in these support groups can relate to similar experiences and find comfort in each other’s stories. Support groups can provide recovery support in a judgment-free atmosphere, advice and information, and a sense of stability.

In addition, family members and other loved ones can also partake in these types of meetings and form a support network.

5. Sponsors

Sponsorship is integral to 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. After joining the program, new members are encouraged to find a sponsor who can help guide them through the steps.

Sponsors are senior members who have been sober for at least a year and can act as role models for newer members. A sponsor can give advice, offer support, and keep you accountable.

Sponsorship plays a key role in AA affiliation. In an analysis of AA involvement, social network composition, and abstinence over a three-year period after intake into treatment for SUD, having a sponsor was associated with both abstinence and the percentage of the social network encouraging a reduction in drinking.

A study found that sponsorship at baseline predicted abstinence rates at both three and six months. Having a sponsor was a significant incremental predictor of abstinence outcomes over a seven-year period. (9)

You don’t have to be in a 12-step program to find a sponsor. Anyone can be a sponsor if they are understanding and trustworthy and have your best interests at heart. Ideally, you want someone who is sober themselves or at least someone who is not going to tempt or enable you.

Recovery can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. The more people you have surrounding and supporting you, the better your chances of staying sober for life.

How To Implement a Substance Use Aftercare Program

Sobriety is not a single decision that you make one day. It’s a series of decisions you make daily to change your life for the better. Therefore, it helps to have a plan to guide you through those decisions. 

These are some ways to create a substance use aftercare program that will work for you.

  • Get professional help. An addiction recovery treatment center like Zinnia Health can help you create a customized aftercare program that fits your personality and life. The healthcare experts can advise you on various therapy forms, helpful activities, and support groups. They can also provide ongoing support.
  • Plan for the long term. Although it is impossible to predict precisely how long you will need aftercare, you should expect it to take time. The first few months and even up to a year of sobriety can be the hardest, so your aftercare program should cover that period. Find therapists, counselors, or case managers who will help you set up an aftercare plan.
  • Be realistic about what you can manage. One of the biggest mistakes that newly sober people make is taking on too much too early. You want to ensure that your aftercare program is sustainable and includes plenty of support from others, whether in the form of group therapy, a sponsor, or a 12-step group. An alternative to 12-step groups is SMART recovery. It focuses on enhancing and maintaining motivation to abstain or (more recently) reduce use to non-problematic levels, coping with urges, problem-solving, and lifestyle balance. (10)
  • Identify your triggers and stressors. If you know what people, places, or things might challenge your recovery, you can plan ways to deal with them ahead of time. Think about what healthy activities you can do to overcome cravings.
  • Keep a journal. Writing in a journal helps you work through your emotions and understand your thought patterns better. A journal can also be a guide that you can look back on to see what your triggers are and how you handled them.
  • Celebrate milestones. Staying sober can be hard work, so it is important to recognize the great job you are doing. Reward yourself for important milestones such as your one-month, six-month, and year marks. Buy yourself something nice or plan a gathering with family or loved ones to celebrate. This can help you stay motivated and on track.
  • Practice self-care. Eat well, exercise, meditate, and get enough sleep. Try to think positively about yourself. Surround yourself with people who care about you and support you. The better you feel inside and out, the more likely you will make positive life choices.
  • Commit to keep going no matter what. Realize that there is a chance that you may slip up. However, that doesn’t mean that your recovery program was for nothing. You can and should continue with it, although you may need to modify it a bit. If you relapse, reach out to a recovery treatment center like Zinnia Health, and they can help you get back on track again.

How to Choose an Aftercare Program Best for Your Needs

Choosing the right aftercare program can be overwhelming. Here are some essential considerations to help you select the aftercare program best suited to your needs.

  • Assess Your Needs: Before exploring aftercare programs, assess your specific needs and goals. Consider factors such as the type and severity of your addiction or mental health condition, any co-occurring disorders, personal preferences, and support system availability.
  • Research Evidence-Based Practices: Look for aftercare programs that incorporate evidence-based practices recommended by reputable sources such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). According to SAMHSA, evidence-based approaches have been rigorously evaluated and proven effective in treating substance abuse and mental health disorders. (11)
  • Verify Accreditation and Licensing: Ensure that the aftercare program you’re considering is accredited and licensed by relevant authorities. Accreditation ensures that the program meets quality standards and best practices in treatment and care.
  • Evaluate Alumni Programs: Alumni programs are a valuable aftercare component, providing ongoing support and connection with individuals who have completed treatment. Research the availability of alumni programs offered by prospective aftercare facilities.
  • Assess Therapeutic Modalities: Different aftercare programs may utilize various therapeutic modalities, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), or motivational interviewing. CBT has been extensively researched and found to be effective in a large number of outcome studies for psychiatric disorders including substance abuse. (12) Evaluate which modalities align best with your treatment preferences and needs.
  • Examine Relapse Prevention Strategies: Effective aftercare programs incorporate relapse prevention strategies. These may include coping skills training, stress management techniques, and tools for identifying and managing triggers.
  • Seek Peer Support Opportunities: Peer support provides encouragement, understanding, and accountability. Look for programs that offer group therapy sessions, support groups, or peer-led activities.
  • Review Success Rates and Outcomes: Research the success rates and outcomes of prospective aftercare programs. Look for statistics on rates of sustained sobriety or symptom improvement, preferably from reliable .gov or .edu sources.

Aftercare for Addiction Recovery

Addiction is a disease that needs to be managed over time. While rehab is highly effective in the early stages of addiction recovery, aftercare is equally important. The chances of relapsing are highest in the first few months of sobriety and up to a year after your quit date.

The best way to prevent a relapse is to explore drug and alcohol aftercare programs and find the best fit for your needs.

The professionals at Zinnia Health know that rehab is just the first step. That is why they work closely with clients to create personalized aftercare programs that fit the unique needs of each individual. They can help you create an aftercare program that will maximize your chances of success.

Are you or a loved one looking to enter an aftercare recovery program? Zinnia Health is here for you and ready to help. The treatment center offers customized addiction recovery programs for every patient. Each program is created with compassion and designed to tackle the underlying causes of addiction. Call our phone number (855) 430-9439.


Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us