Let’s start at the beginning. People with moderate to severe drug or alcohol addiction will usually first become involved in a serious rehab program. These programs typically include an initial withdrawal management program, also known as medical detox.

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After withdrawing from the addictive substance, the individual seeking addiction treatment will enter either a very structured inpatient or residential addiction treatment service. On the other hand, they may also begin an intensive outpatient program.

After completing your treatment provider program, many people enter a phase known as an aftercare treatment program. At this time, this phase is more commonly referred to as “continuing care” because it puts across the idea that active addiction treatment continues in this phase.


What Benefit is Aftercare for Substance Abuse?

Research shows that the greatest risk for relapse is during the first 90 days after your initial treatment. Additionally, the odds of maintaining recovery are lower without an aftercare program.

Aftercare services has many benefits, including the following:

  • You will learn how to cope with stress.
  • You can receive support and encouragement.
  • You’ll learn how to interact with family in healthy ways.
  • You may find someone to call if your cravings start; you’ll build a support system.

  • It builds confidence and develops skills through mental health and behavioral therapy, peer groups, and continued education.

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Verify Your Insurance

If you have coverage of any kind from a major insurance provider, your treatment is likely covered. We promise to keep your information confidential.

Why Is Aftercare Important in Recovery?

Because addiction is a chronic condition for many people, it needs to be treated on an ongoing basis like any other chronic disease such as diabetes or hypertension. Yet, the traditional addiction treatment model has been a supervised, intensive program followed by limited outpatient care. Continuing care for addiction includes:

  • Regular assessments

  • Monitoring the patient’s risks of relapse

  • Links to other addiction center locations and community support
  • Training in self-management skills
  • Treatment customized to the needs of the individual

Do I need Continuing Care?

Yes! As you may now know after stating the benefits and inclusion of continuing care, it is an important part of any substance abuse treatment plan. It can help you stay on track and avoid relapse.

Addiction treatment has generally been short-term and focused on intense periods of care. After a medically supervised detox, stabilization, and inpatient or residential care, people would have time-limited outpatient treatment. A study made by National Institute On Drug Abuse on outpatient treatment programs found that the planned length of outpatient care was usually 90 days. However, the actual duration was around 30 days.

For a lot of people, substance abuse is a relapsing condition that lasts for years after being diagnosed. It has been found that 40-60% of people treated for alcohol or drug abuse return to regular use within a year following treatment.

Aftercare programs will help you stay sober and lead a productive life.

why rehab aftercare programs

Aftercare Eases the Transition from Formal Addiction Treatment to Life
Outside of Treatment

Individuals in an inpatient or residential treatment program often report that they feel unprepared for the transition to everyday life after discharge from their substance abuse treatment program. Sadly, there is an increased chance of relapse to substance abuse after a short period of abstinence and in some cases, these relapses even lead to co-occurring mental health issues. People who complete an inpatient treatment often still struggle to handle their everyday lives such as keeping a daily routine, going to work, or handling other obligations. Continued care includes individualized follow-up services after the initial phase of treatment.

How Does It Work?

In all the best treatment centers, you begin with a treatment plan and once it is under control, you move into the maintenance phase. You can achieve lifelong recovery with the right maintenance. In fact, recovery starts with aftercare—the continued outpatient treatment after leaving detox in a treatment facility. It might include:

  • Group counseling
  • Additional job skills training or anger management
  • Peer support programs like 12-step or SMART recovery groups
  • Medication to treat your SUD
  • Continuing therapy with a counselor or psychologist
  • Follow-up meetings with an addiction specialist or medical professional

How Long Does Aftercare Last?

Aftercare programs can last from a few months to the rest of your life. An individual in substance abuse recovery will typically meet with their healthcare provider to reconsider their progress and treatment after a certain amount of time.

As treatment continues, some of the treatments might be reduced or even eliminated. If you feel like you are beginning to relapse or need more support, your counselor or treatment provider may recommend changing your aftercare plan to concentrate on your needs at the moment.

types of rehab aftercare programs

Types of Aftercare for Alcohol Or Drug Abuse:

12-Step Aftercare Programs

The best-known type of aftercare is peer-support groups. This includes 12-step models such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). These groups use the social support offered by peer discussion to help promote and maintain substance-free lifestyles and improve mental health. In these groups, members attend regular meetings and have a sponsor—a more experienced person in recovery. The sponsor can offer individual support. Some type of spiritual element is usually included in Alcoholics Anonymous, but people who are not spiritual have found these groups to be beneficial. Members of 12-step substance abuse programs often attend the meetings for the rest of their lives.

Support Groups

According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), The process of recovery is supported through relationships and social networks, hence support groups are important for a complete recovery. Most addiction treatment programs promote the idea that patients should take part in group therapy during and after formal treatment. Besides the ones previously mentioned, there are other peer support groups for someone in recovery. These include SMART (Self-Management And Recovery Training) recovery support groups and Rational Recovery. These are popular for people who are not comfortable with the spiritual aspects of AA and NA. Support groups offer another layer of community-level support to help build healthy lifestyle goals for people in recovery.

Outpatient Follow-Up

Addiction treatment centers frequently offer follow-up visits after you have completed the primary program in treatment facilities. These visits are sometimes called “booster sessions.” They are scheduled at regular periods and are meant to serve as a refresher. Along with assessing the treatment plan and how it’s working, booster sessions can give patients more coping tools and techniques to avoid relapse.


Meeting with a counselor provides a safe place for a person in recovery to process and express their feelings. It works as a sounding board to vent their frustrations and as a guide to help them handle the problems that pop up. A counselor can also recognize the warning signs of relapse or mental health disorders that may arise which helps the person in recovery get additional help or treatment if necessary.


During therapy, a person in recovery learns methods to change their thought patterns, therefore changing their behaviors. An aftercare treatment provider who specializes in behavioral therapy can help the recovery process from an SUD through identifying their triggers, understanding their thoughts and feelings then learning new coping skills, helping to set goals, and keeping you motivated to maintain recovery.


It is important to note that patients in aftercare programs will still need to take medication as prescribed by their treatment provider. Medication is needed to help an individual maintain their substance-free life. In the cases of nicotine or alcohol addiction, the medication is tapered off after time. For addiction to heroin or painkillers, medication is more often used as a long-term maintenance treatment. Your treatment provider

Dual Diagnosis Support Treatment

This type of aftercare treatment is meant for people who have other mental health issues in addition to a substance use disorder. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “treatment must address the needs of the whole person to be successful.” With that in mind, the dual diagnosis works to treat all mental health and substance abuse problems that will help the individual maintain their recovery. Dual diagnosis support must be individually catered to each patient’s needs, so treatment centers plans will vary. Talk to your treatment provider and discuss your dual diagnosis options.

Group therapy session as part of the partial hospitalization program.

Sober Living Homes (SLHs)

Sometimes called a “sober house” or “recovery house,” a sober living home helps a person in the recovery process make the transition from a treatment facility to normal daily life. Technically, sober living homes are not considered aftercare services and are not a place rendering medical advice. However, they do provide support for people in substance abuse recovery. Sober living homes provide a safe, substance-free environment for people trying to abstain from drugs and alcohol. Normally, SLHs aren’t licensed or funded by state or local governments and the residents share the costs among themselves.

How do you transition into a sober living home?

If there are concerns about the environment you live in, you should consider sober living after treatment as well.

The first step to transition into a sober living home is usually to detox from drugs and alcohol. This can be done in an inpatient or outpatient setting, depending on your needs.

After detox, you’ll likely go through a period of intensive therapy to help you deal with the underlying issues that led to your addiction. Once you’ve completed therapy, you can begin the process of transitioning into a sober living home.

Sober living homes provide structure and support to help you stay on track with your sobriety goals. You’ll have access to resources like 12-step meetings, support groups and counselors, and you’ll be expected to follow house rules that promote sobriety. Sober living homes can be a great step in your recovery journey


Residents are typically expected to share in the upkeep and maintenance of the home. Individual homes have their own rules and they are strictly enforced, particularly the abstinence requirement.

Living in an SLH allows you to work and navigate the real world and return to a safe substance-free environment. The guiding recovery philosophy of an SLH emphasizes peer support and attendance at 12-step treatment programs.

Some homes require residents to attend a preset number of counseling and support groups. Studies show that residents in sober living have a considerably lower rate of substance use than individuals in typical aftercare services. It’s also noted that living in a sober home is associated with increased employment and income and fewer legal problems.

Start Your Recovery Journey at Behavioral Health Centers

Seeking addiction treatment? At Behavioral Health Centers, we can offer you the treatment that can meet your needs and preferences. We are one of the best treatment centers in Florida. Our staff of professionals is experienced in treating drug and alcohol addiction as well as any co-occurring mental conditions. We use evidence-based treatments and therapies along with holistic therapies to treat your whole body, spirit, and mind.

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Medically reviewed by:

Dr. K. Dodge, PhD, MSPH, MSW

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If you have coverage of any kind from a major insurance provider, your treatment is likely covered. We promise to keep your information confidential.