The Role of Continuing Care in Recovery

The Role of Continuing Care in Recovery

Continuing care programs are provided by most addiction treatment facilities in order to help newly recovering addicts receive continued support in their journeys toward recovery. Recovery is not achieved after completing a residential treatment program. The journey toward recovery is a lifelong process that begins when the addict leaves the rehab facility and reenters society.

After rehab recovering addicts are often faced with a whole new set of challenges from finding new friends to overcoming persistent relapse triggers. Hopefully rehab has prepared the addict for the majority of situations that will come her way. But the reality of relapse triggers, temptations to use again and inadvertently coming across an old drug dealer friend are often not quite what they seemed in preparation. The first year of recovery especially can be a time when former addicts need immense support and professional programs to help them maneuver through life in recovery. Continuing care programs exist for that very reason.

The Mayo Clinic suggests that entering into one or multiple continuing care programs after the completion of a primary treatment program is just as important as that first step of accepting treatment. Life in recovery can be nearly impossible to stride through without multiple avenues of professional support as found in continuing care programs. Extended outpatient programs, early recovery programs and recovery maintenance programs are all forms of continuing care provided at places such as the Mayo Clinic.

An extended outpatient program provides structured support and care for newly recovering addicts after their completion of a primary treatment program, such as residential rehab. The continued care program can provide recovering addicts with a similar support structure to that in residential rehab but with more freedom to come and go. The outpatient program can provide individual counseling sessions, screen testing for the presence of drugs, group therapy sessions and even family days that enable loved ones to help understand the addict’s needs. This type of continued care is best for recovering addicts who still depend on structure and frequent counseling to help them get through their day to day without using again.

Early recovery programs are another form of continuing care that enable recovering addicts to meet with professionals and peers twice a week for one to two months. Individual counseling sessions, group therapy, education and training are typically available to help recovering addicts get through the next few months drug free. A recovery maintenance program can be made available after completing an early recovery program for weekly meetings up to six months. Individual and group counseling, education and follow up assessments are all available to continue helping recovering addicts down their road to lifelong recovery.

After completing a residential rehab program, recovering addicts are typically referred to a continuing care program based on their individual needs and support network. Some continuing care programs are long-term, transitional such as a halfway house or more permanent such as a live-in sober community where all people living within the neighborhood are required to be sober in order to live there.

The Effectiveness of Continuing Care for Recovering Addicts

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation provides results of a 2011 study that examined 865 addicts who recently received residential or intensive outpatient treatment for substance abuse. The goal of the study was to find what affect continuing care actually had on recovering addicts. The study found that the likelihood of addicts staying drug free increased by 20% for every consecutive month they remained in a continuing care program during a six month period.

Another study conducted in 2009 followed two groups of recovering addicts for two years with both groups being interviewed every 90 days by professional researchers. One group received continuing care upon completing their residential rehab program in the form of one-on-one motivational interviewing, assessments, personalized feedback and continued treatment referrals. The other group received only assessments without any continuing care program. The final results of the study found that the group who received continued care had a much higher amount of drug free days, fewer drug related symptoms and fewer drug related problems.

Web based continuing care programs are also an effective method of support for recovering addicts who are not always able to meet the scheduling demands of in-person programs. A web-based continuing care program developed by Hazelden found that 78% of users who utilized the program to its full potential remained drug free for 12 months.

Continuing care programs are absolutely necessary for recovering addicts to receive every chance of maintaining their abstinence from drugs and alcohol. The longer recovering addicts participate in continuing care programs the more likely they are of achieving a successful long-term recovery.

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