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Addiction is a complex disorder that can continue to impact a person’s life even after receiving treatment in a residential program. Learn about the different components of an aftercare program and why it is a vital part of sustaining recovery.

Primary Treatment Is the First Step

Addiction requires continued monitoring and maintenance like any other long-term medical condition. For most people, treating acute symptoms in an inpatient or intensive outpatient program is not the end of the road; it is just the beginning.

Having a plan for what comes next is essential to maintaining sobriety. This is called “aftercare.”

Aftercare Comes Next

Aftercare, also known as “continuing care,” is an intentional and client-specific plan on how a person will move forward in their recovery journey. Every client’s aftercare plan looks a little different as it is based on their needs and evaluation from their treatment provider.

An aftercare program is typically less time-intensive than an inpatient program. Clients get to carry out daily responsibilities and live at home while attending therapy sessions and meetings with other healthcare providers, such as case managers.

Aftercare helps clients transition from the structured environment of a residential program to the more unpredictable circumstances of everyday life. They also have the opportunity to practice new skills and gain the confidence they need to confront stress and triggers.

What Are the Components of an Aftercare Plan?

An aftercare plan is flexible and unique to each individual. There is no set “end date” to a client’s aftercare plan. However, as the client progresses, the plan can be revised to reflect their current needs.

Different components can be added to a client’s plan, such as:

While some of these components are also a part of residential programs (e.g., individual therapy), aftercare supports which services will best help the client as they live their life.

Outpatient Programs Can Be a Part of Aftercare

Program components like PHP and IOP are the primary forms of treatment for some individuals, but they can also be a form of aftercare. Clients who have recently completed residential treatment can “step down” to an outpatient program to continue recovering.

What Is the Purpose of Aftercare?

For most individuals with a substance use disorder, it is not enough to get treated and move back into everyday routines. About 60% of individuals stay clean after one round of treatment, while others relapse a few times before achieving sustained recovery. Taking advantage of aftercare resources allows a person to continue developing coping strategies for the private, social, and professional domains.

Since aftercare usually involves checking in weekly with clinicians, clients are held accountable for their progress. An impending or recent relapse can also be quickly detected, allowing clients to get the help they need before substance use escalates.

Aftercare Can Have Many Goals

The primary purpose of aftercare could be said to help clients stay sober. However, aftercare can serve other critical functions needed alongside relapse prevention strategies. For instance, the healthcare team can provide emotional and technical support for life transitions out of treatment and assist clients with finding employment and education.

They can also help clients:

  • Obtain legal advice
  • Manage stress, cravings, and triggers
  • Stay focused on achieving personal goals
  • Practice healthy thought and behavioral patterns
  • Find support groups to grow and diversify one’s support system

What About Alumni Programs?

Enrolling in an alumni program is a great way to stay connected to the recovery community. At facilities like West Coast Recovery Centers, clients can join an alumni program as a part of their aftercare. Clients will have the chance to get together and engage in fun activities, such as:

  • Community events
  • Mountain retreats
  • Beach bonfires
  • Softball games

Weekly alumni process groups run by the alumni coordinator are also available. This provides a safe space to share challenges and success stories, helping peers feel understood. The alumni program also encourages clients to remember why they worked so hard to get to this point.

Cultivating a Lasting Recovery

Having a clear vision for the future is necessary to succeed at whatever an individual wants to accomplish in life. Creating a plan with goals and action points allows a person to effectively work towards materializing that vision. It also holds them accountable for their progress.

This is what an aftercare plan does. Every client has different ideas about what they want their life to look like. Understanding how those ideas intersect with their recovery from drug or alcohol addiction can help them overcome the barriers they may face on their journey.

Aftercare is essential for maintaining sobriety and enhancing one’s quality of life after primary treatment. Every aftercare plan is different because it is based on a person’s needs and goals for recovery. West Coast Recovery Centers provides outpatient services to individuals struggling with substance use disorders and co-occurring diagnoses. We are certified through the Department of Healthcare Services of the State of California and nationally accredited through the Joint Commission. Our goal is to provide transparent, high-quality care to every individual. Traditional and holistic modalities are available to clients for an individualized path to lasting, self-determined recovery. Whether stepping down from a residential program or completing one of our outpatient programs, aftercare planning is highly encouraged. Our alumni program is offered as a way to stay connected with the recovery community and find support in times of need. For questions about our aftercare services, call (760) 492-6509 today.

West Coast Recovery Centers ( 370135CP), Valid through July 31, 2025
Jackson House Visalia (540056AP), Valid through May 15, 2025
DHCS Licensing and Certification Division