Aftercare and Support
What is Aftercare and Support?
Returning to daily life after any residential care can be intimidating and daunting. People can often feel that they are not ready, that they will revert to unhealthy coping mechanisms, or that they are not fully equipped to manage their own symptoms.
This is one of the reasons why it is crucial to have an aftercare plan and a support system in place, especially during the early stages of recovery, which are typically the most fragile.
Aftercare planning is similar to the treatment of any chronic health condition, like a discharge plan from a hospital. It can include any activities, interventions and resources needed to help a person in recovery to cope when returning to their everyday life.
Aftercare typically consists of a personalised plan, which is implemented to support patients once primary assessment and treatment are complete. It is based on the specific needs and issues of each individual, to help them navigate life with a high level of support once they have completed their residential treatment programme.
Aftercare enables patients to continue receiving the support and care they need as they transition back to daily life, to manage symptoms and maintain healthy coping strategies when challenges present themselves.
Recovery from any condition can be hard work, requiring daily mindfulness and a high-level of self-care. Aftercare offers crucial support to help those in recovery to continue their growth – helping them to stay on track with their recovery plan and short- and long-term goals – especially during the early months following a treatment programme.
Research has shown that continued support after treatment – in the form of an aftercare plan – is of critical importance for a sustained recovery.
What is Included in an Aftercare Plan?
Aftercare is available in many forms, depending on a person’s individual circumstances and issues. Treatment centres will help construct an aftercare plan, with continuing resources and support, customised for each person’s specific needs.
Aftercare plans can include almost anything that will help the person in recovery to live safely in their community and continue with their healing, for example:
- transitional living
- safe housing arrangements
- vocational or educational assistance
- extended residential options
- community support groups, including 12-step services
- life skills groups
- recreational activities
- medical support
- assistance in building a healthy support network – with friends, family, a mentor or religious / spiritual advisor
- ongoing monitoring of mental, emotional and physical health
- outpatient treatments, such as continued therapy with a specialist.
Without a solid aftercare plan in place, individuals may not be able to apply what they have learned during treatment for a successful outcome and may fall back into old coping habits and behaviours. This is why aftercare planning and implementation are so important for sustained recovery.
What is Considered During Aftercare Planning?
Aftercare planning is commonly based around SAMHSA’s four major factors that influence and support recovery: health (physical, mental and emotional), home, purpose and community (social health). “Recovery is a process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.” SAMHSA
As an important part of the recovery process, aftercare planning should take a holistic approach and consider all the elements that support and aid healing. Depending on an individual’s specific needs, considerations will include:
- proper understanding of the severity of the condition
- identification of potential barriers to successful recovery
- outpatient care expectations
- a realistic, sustainable self-management plan
- the presence of a solid support network
- a regrouping plan if symptoms recur
- a relapse protection plan – to activate in the event of possible relapse (this does not just apply to substance use disorders. People can relapse back into anxiety, depression, process addictions and other mental health disorders)
- a medical plan – to help support physical health and manage symptoms
- identification of continued therapy or counseling needs.
Aftercare planning always considers the continued therapy needs of the recovering person. One of the primary functions of this continued therapy is to work with a therapist to make short- and long-term goals. It can also include:
- talk therapy, such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)
- learning new, healthy coping mechanisms
- practising new skills, like meditation, mindfulness and breathing techniques
- building self-responsibility and self-esteem
- improving interpersonal skills
- rebuilding trust in self and others
- family therapy – to help the family of the person in recovery to return to a healthy dynamic.
In addition to one-on-one therapy sessions, aftercare planning often considers complementary group therapy, which provides a safe place for those in recovery to discuss anxieties and issues and to share experiences with those recovering from similar conditions.
What are the Benefits of Aftercare and Support?
Aftercare and support are extremely important when it comes to setting up and maintaining a life worth living, a life that offers endless opportunities for progress, after a treatment stay has been completed.
The benefits of aftercare and support are undeniable and include:
- becoming better at addressing and managing daily stressors / triggers, using healthy coping strategies and techniques
- improving skills in specific areas, including problem-solving
- repairing / improving relationships and developing social health
- developing a new foundation of positivity, through healthy relationships, new perspectives and new habits
- building self-awareness
- continuing mental and emotional healing
- reinforcing long-term behaviour changes
- supporting self-care – taking time to restore energy and maintain physical and emotional health, through good diet, exercise and sleep habits
- preventing relapse.
A good aftercare plan will prepare and support those in recovery for the roadblocks, challenges and temptations they will face when they return to daily life.
Research shows that good aftercare and support play a significant role in recovery success – with regular aftercare participation repeatedly proving to be one of the best indicators of sustained recovery.
Please contact us if you’d like to find out more about our personalised Aftercare and Support packages.
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