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The Importance Of Alcohol Rehab Aftercare
An alcohol use disorder (AUD) is an impaired ability to stop or control the use of alcohol despite adverse consequences. It involves being preoccupied with alcohol, having to drink more to experience the desired effect, or having withdrawal symptoms upon sudden cessation or rapid reduction of use. This medical condition is characterized by alcohol-related problems, like interference with work, home, or family, building a tolerance, suffering withdrawal symptoms, and putting oneself at risk of injury because of drinking. About 17 million adults over the age of 18 have an AUD, and it is one of the most significant public health issues in America. Seeking treatment is vital if you suffer with an AUD. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that one third of people who receive treatment for alcohol-related problems have no symptoms 1 year later. However, recovery doesn’t end when someone leaves treatment. Alcohol rehab aftercare is essential for long term success.
Healthcare providers can help to assess if an individual’s drinking habits are considered an AUD. Those who are unsure can also self evaluate by asking themselves a few questions. Even just one “yes” to these questions can indicate a drinking problem. These questions include:
- Have you tried to cut back on drinking, but couldn’t?
- Have you quit activities you used to enjoy because of alcohol?
- Have you continued to drink despite it causing problems with friends and family?
- Do you experience an intense craving, need, or urge to drink?
- Have you continued drinking despite it making you feel anxious or depressed?
- Have you drunk more and for longer periods of time than intended?
Finding the right treatment program might seem daunting, but a treatment provider can help an individual figure out their needs. Many additional factors are involved when assessing a client to determine the level of care that would best meet their needs. Levels of care include outpatient, intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization, intensive inpatient, residential, and detox. Detoxing in a medical facility is the safest way to detox from alcohol. Some withdrawal symptoms from alcohol are dangerous and potentially life threatening. Medical professionals can ease the symptoms from detox and make sure the patients’ blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, and breathing is stable.
Most inpatient alcohol rehab programs last 30 to 90 days, but the longer someone stays in rehab, the higher their success rates are. Rehab may include medication, behavioral counseling, and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues. After a person leaves treatment for a substance use disorder, they are considered in “early recovery.” The choices they make after leaving treatment can predict their long-term success and whether a relapse may occur.
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What To Expect In Alcohol Rehab Aftercare
Alcohol rehab aftercare is designed to help guide individuals while they continue working on their recovery after they leave treatment. This may include counseling, sober living homes, facility-based programs, support groups, and alumni groups. Many rehab centers offer aftercare services after the initial treatment is over and will inform their patients of it. A provider can help to create an aftercare plan that meets each person’s individual needs. Contacting rehab facilities directly can also help to develop an aftercare plan. Therapy and counseling are conducted daily while attending inpatient rehab, but continuing therapy after leaving rehab is just as important for recovering alcoholics.
Counseling And Therapy
Focused counseling sessions and one-on-one therapy can help people deal with their triggers for drinking, stress, anxiety, and depression and help them change the behaviors that make them want to drink. Some may also want to bring in spouses or family members to counseling; when family members are involved in treatment, it is called family therapy, which encompasses individual and group therapy, as well as education on the disease of addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can not only help patients cope with their problems but can help them identify situations in which they are likely to drink and how to avoid those situations. CBT helps individuals identify negative thought patterns and teaches individuals how to change them to positive ones, resulting in healthy behaviors. The duration of therapy or counseling depends on the needs of the individual, and some may taper off until they are attending sessions only once a week or once a month. There are a variety of therapies that can be selected, based on each person’s needs, such as faith-based therapy, experiential therapy, and holistic therapy.
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Sober Living Homes
Sober living homes, which may also be referred to as halfway houses, recovery housing, and recovery homes, are alcohol and drug-free housing for people in recovery. These communities are a great way to transition back to normal life after leaving a rehab facility. It is a home that people live in where they can come and go as they please. Stays are usually at least 90 days. This provides recovering alcoholics with a supportive community. Those in sober living homes may have mandatory group meetings and chores. Using drugs or alcohol is prohibited and the people who reside in sober living homes may be required to partake in drug and alcohol testing.
People who return to their homes after treatment may face more obstacles than those who enter a sober living home. In a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, researchers found that those who stayed in a sober living home had improvements in alcohol and drug use, psychiatric symptoms, arrests, and employment. These communities also help recovering alcoholics move towards employment and make connections with others who have the same goal of sobriety.
Support groups offer a space for recovering alcoholics to speak freely about their experiences, thoughts, and fears, and meet others who understand what they are going through. The most common type of support group is the 12-step program that is modeled off of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The 12 steps of AA guide participants through achieving and maintaining sobriety. Sponsors (someone who has gone through AA and has maintained sobriety) can guide recovering alcoholics and act as a support system. Support groups like Al-Anon and Alateen are beneficial to family members of the recovering alcoholic and helps people connect who are going through similar experiences.
People who participate in peer support groups have higher rates of abstinence, and sponsors who have a sponsee also have higher rates of abstinence from drugs and alcohol. Support group attendees are more satisfied with their treatment and have reductions in relapse rates. Finding a group that works for the individual is an important part of alcohol rehab aftercare and individuals should research groups in their area.
Alumni support groups are designed for those who have all completed the same treatment program and have remained connected to their facility for support and encouragement as they help guide and mentor newcomers. Those who participate in alumni programs have higher success rates. One study found that 33% of people who dropped out of treatment said they would have stayed longer if they had help with living areas, post-treatment services, and practical assistance. One of the foundations of any support group is the fellowship between members, and the structure provides a scheduled time for recovering alcoholics to share and decrease their chances of relapse.
Relapse And Recovery
Before leaving treatment, it is imperative to create an alcohol rehab aftercare plan. Treatment centers should be able to assist in creating a comprehensive plan. Attending treatment is the beginning to a better life, but the work does not stop after leaving rehab. Creating a path for success will help individuals not feel overwhelmed and tempted to relapse. Unfortunately, relapses are common but do not mean someone should give up on their sobriety. If you or a loved one has relapsed or are seeking treatment, contact a treatment provider to find a rehabilitation center.
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