Addiction aftercare programs consist of all interventions administered after formal drug treatment. Drug treatment is available in many configurations, with common examples including long-term residential treatment, short-term residential treatment, and out-patient treatment.
While these programs provide people with the groundwork they need to get clean and address their problems, additional treatment and support are often required on an aftercare basis. Aftercare programs provide both psychological and practical support, with recovering addicts taught the skills they need to make healthy lifestyle decisions.
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Drug addiction is a complex health condition, with a range of interventions required to enable discontinuation and recovery. The process of drug treatment is often divided into detox and rehab, with relapse prevention and related programs also available during addiction aftercare programs.
While detox helps people to stop drug use and rehab addresses the precedents of the problem, addiction aftercare promotes abstinence on a long-term basis. Typical addiction aftercare programs include relapse prevention, contingency management, practical support and family therapy, with some treatment centers specializing in a particular approach.
The primary goal of many aftercare programs is to reduce relapse rates among clients. Relapse is a hallmark feature of drug abuse and dependence, which are both learned behaviors based on brain changes. In order to break the bonds of addiction on a long-term basis, clients need to make new physical and psychological connections through medication and behavioral therapy.
Relapse prevention is mostly based on cognitive, behavioral and motivational principles, with therapists helping clients to recognize potential triggers, avoid high risk situations and develop new coping skills. Relapse is mostly viewed as a process in the context of drug treatment, with clients treated according to their progression along three different steps: emotional relapse, mental relapse, and physical relapse.
Dedicated relapse prevention systems are based on psychotherapy principles, with clients learning how to change their behavior by recognizing and altering their thoughts and feelings. Practical support also has an important role to play, however, with people much less likely to relapse if they have access to stable living arrangements and employment.
Typical recovery programs look at issues such as skills development, education, community housing, and income support, with counselors helping people to address their life problems in a measured and sustainable way. Sober living and lifelong commitment may also come into play during
practical treatments, with 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) able to support people on a long-term or indefinite basis.
An intervention is any orchestrated attempt to get someone to seek help for a drug or alcohol problem. While an initial intervention normally takes place at the outset of drug treatment, additional interventions may be needed if a physical relapse event takes place. Both direct and indirect intervention models are available, with the Systemic Family Model of intervention likely to use a soft invitational approach and the ARISE model of intervention likely to use more direct methods. Intervention counselors are available from many treatment centers, with professional interventionists able to help the friends and family members of drug addicts through this difficult process.
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