It is not unusual to assume that to overcome an addiction all you need do is quit the substance to which you are addicted. However, addiction recovery is a much more in-depth process that requires more than just quitting the physical cycle of abuse. It is necessary to treat the underlying psychological issues as well as the physical element of the illness. Moreover, once treatment has been completed, aftercare is important. But what is addiction aftercare? And is it essential? These questions and more are ones that many affected people ask, so we will attempt to address them in this article.
What Is Aftercare?
It is important to understand what aftercare is in relation to addiction recovery. Many people neglect this vital part of the recovery process, therefore leaving themselves vulnerable to relapse.
What most do not realise is that overcoming addiction is a lengthy process. Addiction is an illness for which there is currently no cure, so it is vital that steps are taken to prevent a return to addictive behaviour at a later date.
Once the physical addiction has been treated with a detox, the process of tackling the issues that caused the addiction can take place during a programme of rehabilitation. However, recovery does not end with the completion of such a programme. In fact, aftercare is an especially important part of the process.
To maintain sobriety, you will need to work hard once your treatment has ended. You will have to learn to live a substance-free life, but this can be tough, particularly in the early days of recovery. Trying to change behaviours that have become the norm is not easy and you will need a lot of support. Fortunately, there is plenty of it available.
What Aftercare Options are Available?
If you have chosen an inpatient programme to help you overcome addiction, you will likely find that your treatment provider includes up to a year of aftercare support (provided you complete the programme). This might include regular outpatient counselling or the ability to get in touch with your counsellor for advice and support as and when required. But there are other options available in your local community too.
You may be familiar with groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous; these are known as fellowship support groups and they operate across the UK. It is likely that your treatment provider will encourage you to get involved with a local support group as it is generally accepted that such groups form an integral part of the recovery process.
When answering the question of what addiction aftercare is, fellowship support groups feature heavily as they are a major part of successfully living in recovery. They are based on the idea that sharing experiences and stories with other members helps to keep you on the right track while motivating you to succeed.
Such groups are based on the Twelve Steps philosophy. Although not compulsory, members are encouraged to work through the steps as they progress through their journey of recovery. Millions of people worldwide are involved in fellowship support groups and have used them to help get sober and stay sober.
What Are Fellowship Support Groups Like?
There is a great deal of misunderstanding when it comes to fellowship support groups though, mainly because of the way in which they have been portrayed in movies or in TV programmes. Many people also wrongly assume that these are religiously based when in fact you do not have to be religious at all to be a member or to work the twelve steps.
Most are also of the opinion that they will be forced to stand up and talk about their problems on their first day; it is this fear of speaking in front of others that is enough to prevent many from getting involved.
You should know though that you will never be forced to talk in front of others, no matter how long you have been a member. You should also be aware that you are highly likely to want to share your story after a while, despite what you might think right now.
Fellowship groups are a place where you can go for help and support. Even if you drop out, you can return again and again, and you will always be welcomed with open arms. Members come from all walks of life, and while you may have much in common with some members, you may not have anything at all in common with others. The only thing that everyone will share is an illness that they all want to overcome.
Meetings tend to be informal affairs, carried out in a non-judgmental atmosphere. Everyone will be there to offer support to each other, and you can be yourself without worrying about recrimination or rejection.
One of the wonderful things about fellowship support groups is that everyone will be at a different stage of their journey. When you first join, you will probably be in the preliminary stages of recovery and you will be able to see how far others have come in theirs. This tends to be a great motivator as it allows you to see what is possible with dedication and a willingness to change. Over time, and as other people join, you will be further along in your journey and you will be able to see how much you have progressed. You may even get to a point where you are strong enough in your own recovery that you feel ready to help others in theirs.
Why Is Aftercare Important?
Now that the question of ‘what is addiction aftercare’ has been answered, it is probably best to discuss the importance of it. What many affected individuals do not realise is that without aftercare support the risk of relapse is much greater. In fact, most people who do relapse will do so in the first twelve months after their treatment programme has ended.
Joining an aftercare support group will let you know that you are not alone. You will have a group of people that you can talk to when you need them and who will be there to support you in good times and in bad.
Recovery from addiction takes time, and it is vital that you have a place to go when you are feeling shaky or vulnerable. When you return to normal everyday life, you will need to learn how to adjust, so having people to talk to who have been through the process will give you a greater chance of success.
You might find it a struggle to adjust to a sober life where your days are no longer filled with drug taking or drinking. Being a part of a fellowship group means you will have a positive substitute for your negative behaviours. You will likely make lifelong friendships that will aid your recovery as well.
If you are interested in learning more about addiction and how to recover from it, or if you have questions about aftercare programmes, feel free to contact us here at Sanctuary Lodge. We can provide answers to your questions and offer advice on the options available to you. Please call today and speak with one of our friendly staff members.