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The Role Of Aftercare In Addiction Recovery

addiction recovery

Addiction, or substance use disorder (SUD), is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli despite negative consequence. It is a chronic, relapsing brain disorder, and is listed as such in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Addiction can wreak havoc in all areas of one’s life. The development of substance use disorder does not occur immediately, nor will recovering from addiction be achieved instantaneously. There are many components to one’s recovery when it comes to treatment for substance abuse and/ or addiction. Each step builds on the previous, and each is integral in the success of one’s sobriety. 

What Is Aftercare?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines aftercare as “the care, treatment, help, or supervision given to persons discharged from an institution.” Aftercare, specifically as it relates to SUD, is a term used to describe any further, ongoing, or follow-up treatment for individuals recovering from substance abuse and/ or addiction, post the completion of a formal addiction treatment program. Aftercare plays a fundamental role in addiction recovery as it is designed to provide individuals with ongoing, tailored support. Any individual that successfully completes a substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program will leave with an aftercare plan. An aftercare plan is a co creation between the individual and his or her clinical treatment team that is developed during treatment. Depending on one’s needs, aftercare plans can be comprised of a range of suggestions, including a mix of extremely detailed recommendations to more broad ideas, such as:

  • Provide suggestions related to reducing exposure to certain known triggers as well as minimize the effects associated with facing certain unavoidable triggers. 
  • Include mock schedules for individuals to follow to help with consistency and structure. 
  • Include lists of healthy pastimes such as attending specific exercise classes, engaging in creative outlets (e.g., painting classes, ceramic lessons, etc.), and additional sober social activities. 
  • Include a blueprint for individuals to refer to when they have relapsed. 
  • Provide a list of addiction support group meeting options, and even offer suggestions regarding the number of recommended meetings an individual should attend weekly. 
  • Suggest transitioning into a sober living facility.

Aftercare plans are fluid documents that can grow and adjust with an individual as his or her needs shift throughout the recovery process. They serve as a personalized resource that provides individuals with both detailed and broad guidance, often including suggestions for how to navigate challenges post treatment, strategies for relapse prevention, and more to promote long-term recovery. 

For Information and Support Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous and can result in severe short and long-term consequences. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to leading happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone, and we are here to help. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction. We are available anytime via telephone at: 213-389-9964, or you can always email us at:

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