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Most people recovering from substance use disorder (SUD) go through a continuum of care, including aftercare services. According to Alcohol Research Current Reviews, “Continuing care is widely believed to be an important component of effective treatment for substance use disorder, particularly for those individuals with greater problem severity.” West Coast Recovery Centers helps clients develop strategies for smoothly transitioning to continuing care after treatment. 

Continuing Care After Treatment Helps People Develop Strategies for Recovery

Aftercare is a vital stage of treatment and ensures people continue to progress in healing and personal growth after they return home. Individuals often benefit from spending at least six months engaging in aftercare services. According to the previously mentioned article by Alcohol Research Current Reviews, “[C]ontinuing care of longer duration that includes more active efforts to keep patients engaged may produce more consistently positive results.” How long people spend in continuing care depends on multiple factors, including their support system, coping skills, and stress management. 

Continuing care services often include the following: 

  • Support groups 
  • Individual or group therapy 
  • Case management 
  • Family therapy 
  • Medication management 

Case managers collaborate with clients to create aftercare plans and ensure they can access the support they need to thrive in long-term recovery. During aftercare, everyone has different needs. The clinical team provides referrals, guidance, and information to clients and their loved ones to facilitate a smoother transition to independent sobriety. West Coast Recovery Centers also provides alumni support services to individuals in continuing care. 

The Transition Into Aftercare

For many people, the sudden independence and lack of structure are the most jarring aspects of moving from a treatment program to aftercare. Clients may find the experience upsetting if they have no support system at home. Some individuals have difficulty filling their day with productive and healthy activities. Boredom and chronic stress are two of the most common causes of relapse for people in early recovery. Continuing care services help individuals manage their time more effectively and reduce stress by keeping them connected with the care team. 

Common Challenges People Face in Continuing Care After Treatment

After completing treatment, some people believe they are “done” with their recovery. However, recovery is a process with multiple stages at different care levels. Continuing care is an essential part of supporting long-term sobriety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Overcoming an SUD is not as simple as resisting the temptation to take drugs [. . .] While no single treatment method is right for everyone, recovery is possible.” 

Everyone faces different challenges during continuing care, including:

  • Less structure and guidance during everyday activities 
  • Increased exposure to emotionally distressing situations
  • Triggering locations, people, items, or thoughts
  • Increased pressure to return to work or oversee family responsibilities 
  • Additional free time throughout the day

Often, people in recovery are unaware of how much free time they have each day until it is no longer filled with therapy sessions and other forms of treatment. The large chunk of free time may cause some people to feel overwhelmed, bored, or uncertain about where to focus their attention. Aftercare provides guidance and direction to help people avoid backsliding into maladaptive behaviors. Relapse prevention starts with identifying challenges and developing solutions to manage them. 

The Importance of Social Support

Self-help groups are an excellent source of healthy social support for individuals in continuing care. According to Substance Use and Misuse, “Social support has long been identified as vital to sustained recovery for individuals with substance use disorders.” In fact, “Research has repeatedly found that those with stronger social support networks remain in treatment longer and have better recovery outcomes with a decreased likelihood of return to use.” Self-help groups and other peer activities provide people with a safe and welcoming space to receive and give support. 

Some of the primary benefits of attending self-help groups during continuing care include:

  • A sense of community and fellowship 
  • Opportunities to grow social and communication skills 
  • Access to additional social support during challenging periods 
  • A safe space for discussing complex topics

Spending time with peers and building a circle of supportive connections helps people in aftercare remain sober. The additional accountability of groups and peer relationships may provide a barrier to substance abuse during crisis moments. 

How the Care Team Supports Clients in Continuing Care After Treatment

Clients at West Coast Recovery Centers collaborate with their care team to create a comprehensive aftercare plan for maintaining positive lifestyle changes and sobriety after transitioning out of treatment. People benefit from working with their care team to create a straightforward strategy for building a healthy, sober life. Clients are given referrals, educated on what to expect during recovery, and provided with the tools to create relapse prevention and continuing care strategies. The transition to aftercare can empower and inspire clients who feel confident in managing their condition.

Most people recovering from chronic substance abuse have better outcomes if they go through multiple levels of treatment. A continuum of care ensures clients can access the support and resources they need to overcome challenges in recovery. Clients step down to lower levels of care and gradually increase their independence while decreasing reliance on treatment programs. The process helps people gain confidence, self-awareness, and essential coping skills. West Coast Recovery Centers ensure clients make informed decisions about their treatment. The care team also offers alumni support and aftercare planning to ensure clients continue to receive support after completing treatment. To learn more about aftercare or the programs we offer, contact us today at (760) 492-6509.