What is Continuing Care?
Formally known as ‘aftercare’ in the field of addiction treatment, the term ‘continuing care’ has been used to indicate the stage of treatment that follows the completion of a primary inpatient/outpatient treatment program.
While a person is completing a residential treatment program for alcohol or drug addiction, they do not face temptations like drug-using friends or familiar places where they would buy and use drugs. During their treatment program, they are expected to remain sober, and the facility/staff may make it very hard to acquire alcohol/drugs. However, once that person goes home, they are faced with all of the old and familiar temptations.
The skills taught in the treatment program might include relaxation training and using physical exercise to reduce stress. It also may incorporate techniques that help the individual deal with drug cravings and “triggers,” which are people, events, or experiences that may entice a person to use drugs again. Running into old drug-using friends or dealers; being at a party where people are using drugs; or even feeling a certain emotion that a person used to numb with drug use are all examples of triggers. They can talk about these situations in individual or group counseling sessions, and at support meetings they become a part of.
Another way to enhance one’s continuing care plan is to get involved in meetings that offer support from members who share common experiences and goals. Some examples of these meetings include:
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
- Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
- Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
- Recovering Couples Anonymous (RCA)
- Smart Recovery (SR)
- Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)
- Women for Sobriety (WFS)
- Rational Recovery (RR)
- Celebrate Recovery (CR)
The individual’s family members need to work through their own issues that surround their loved one’s drug use, even as the person in recovery needs to rely on them for encouragement and support. In marriage or family counseling, the person learns how to ask for help and communicate their needs more openly and honestly. By doing this, they will learn how to create more loving, open family relationships that benefit everyone involved.
Usually, while a person is still in the residential phase of the drug addiction treatment program, their counselors will establish a continuing care plan with them before they leave the drug treatment center. A schedule for individual/family counseling and support meetings will be put in place before the person goes home. This person may have begun to participate in new hobbies and interests at the center, which they will also be encouraged to continue when they return home.
Their stay in residential drug addiction treatment should have started them on healthy new ways of living, including following a healthy diet and getting an adequate amount of exercise. The continuing care plan will help the person commit to the new behaviors they have developed in treatment, resist triggers, overcome relapses, and improve their ability to pursue long-term recovery.
Why is Continuing Care So Crucial to an Individual’s Recovery?
Addiction is not a choice. If the person suffering does not develop the skills necessary to live their life without drugs and alcohol, relapse is common. When an individual is in an inpatient treatment facility, the chances of relapsing are slim to none. Continuing care helps them learn what their triggers are, how to be aware of their cravings and what to do when they are experiencing them, practice healthy new coping skills, and many other skills that will enhance their ability to live a drug and alcohol-free life.
What is Incorporated into Continuing Care?
Continuing care may include:
- Attending support meetings (such as AA, NA, CA, Smart Recovery, or SOS)
- Continuing to attend individual counseling sessions
- Attending marriage counseling with their spouse or family counseling with their other family members
- Applying the skills they learned in treatment to their everyday life
If you’ve successfully completed substance abuse treatment, you’ll find that you’ll need support even after you leave the facility. There will be good days and bad days, and you’ll need a support system to fall back on during those days when nothing is going right. Hopefully you’ll have support from friends, family and care groups, but you can take solace in knowing that Appelman Law Firm will be there for you at all stages of your recovery. Whether it’s your first day out of rehab or you hit a rough patch just days before your fifth year of sobriety, pick up the phone and call Appelman Law Firm at (952) 224-2277. We are always here to talk, and we can help guide you to other post-treatment services to ensure you stay on the right track even during the toughest times.