The Importance of Aftercare in Addiction Treatment

Woman Calling Addiction Sponsor

Contributed by JourneyPure, The Standard in Addiction Treatment.

The floor is cold against Alice’s feet as she tip-toes across the bedroom. The house is dark; she waits until she reaches the kitchen before turning on the light. Her body gives a quick jar as she is startled at the sight of her daughter, Sarah, sitting at the kitchen table—her head buried in her hands.

Sarah looks up at her mother, eyes bloodshot from lack of sleep. Alice pats her on the shoulder, turns, grabs the coffee pot, and begins to run the water to make coffee. It isn’t long before George, Sarah’s dad, appears in the kitchen doorway. He yawns, gives them both a smile and joins them at the kitchen table.

“Did you call your Sober Coach?” George asks.

“No, not yet,” Sarah responds.

“Well, let’s give him a call now,” Mary says with a smile.

Today’s Addiction Crisis

Pills and Ink PenThis is all too common an occurrence today. As the addiction crisis continues to spiral out of control, more and more families will face the heartbreaking reality of having a loved one addicted to a substance or substances.

In 2015, the CDC report over 650,000 opioid prescriptions were distributed daily in the U.S. and the number of individuals abusing opioids continues to increase [1]. Without assistance, it is likely that many of these individuals will become caught in what can seem like a never-ending cycle of relapse.

It’s difficult enough to understand the scientific basis of addiction. But, the situation can become even more mind boggling when attempting to understand the metrics of addiction relapse. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) puts it in the most relatable terms by comparing drug addiction to other chronic illnesses in relationship to relapse rates [2]:

Type 1 Diabetes: Relapse rate = 30 to 50 percent
Drug Addiction: Relapse rate = 40 to 60 percent
Asthma: Relapse rate = 50 to 70 percent
Hypertension: Relapse rate = 50 to 70 percent

Addiction as a Chronic Illness

So, why would a world-renowned organization like the Journal of the American Medical Association relate addiction relapse statistics with those of chronic illnesses? For professionals that work in the field of addiction therapy and treatment, it is a simple answer…because addiction is a chronic disease.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t always been so easy to convince the rest of the world of this specific definition. Experts define addiction “as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences [3].”

As such, relapse is often an unfortunate consequence of the very nature of addiction. The reality of relapse is very real, not just for those in the early days/months of their sobriety, but even for those years into their sobriety.

This is why having a strong support mechanism in place is so very crucial to a successful recovery. Rising stars in addiction therapy and treatment focus extensive research and resources in exploring the most innovative options available to support successful addiction recovery, such as company coaching apps [4].

The mind and the body have to heal from the trauma of addiction; but there is also a period of social normalization that has to be achieved. A person can feel very isolated, even though they are surrounded by others who want to help.

The Importance of Aftercare Treatment

Two men in living room talkingAftercare treatment is another component of the totality of addiction treatment. It can be the single most important component in breaking the habitual relapse cycle many addicts find themselves caught in time-after-time.

Having the availability of a supportive staff member to help during difficult times, 24/7, offers a level of peace of mind that can turn those critical moments into smaller awkward moments where recovery is maintained and relapse is averted.

The world of technology has upped the game for recovery by putting “help” right at your fingertips. Digital apps and gadgets of all sorts have been developed ranging from SoberTools to the other company Coaching Apps that give you 24/7 access to a recovery coach during your post-treatment plan.[5]

The evidence remains strong: To avoid the relapse cycle, it is critical to maintain a strong, supportive aftercare treatment program/Support Plan.

Discussion Question!

Do you believe addiction is a chronic disease? Why or why not?


About JourneyPure:  The mission of the JourneyPure family of treatment facilities is to assist each patient in recovery from addictive behaviors, substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders by utilizing a truly integrated treatment model. With exceptional clinical services, JourneyPure provides a full continuum of care focused on relapse prevention and long-term recovery.


About the Author:  Brenda Walker, MHA. Ms. Walker holds a Master of Arts Degree in Health Care Administration from Ashford University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Health Care Management from Anthem College. She has worked for over two decades in the healthcare field in many capacities, and she is a published author who is well respected among her peers in both the publishing community and in the healthcare arena. Her primary focus remains in mental health, advocacy, and the strategic planning of health care policy.

Currently, Ms. Walker works with some of the finest and most prestigious minds at JourneyPure developing knowledge-based content intended to inform both consumers and industry professionals.


References:

[1]: The Opioid Epidemic: By the Numbers. (2016, June). Retrieved from Department of Health and Human Services: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/Factsheet-opioids-061516.pdf
[2]: Treatment and Recovery. (2014, July) Retrieved from National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery
[3]: The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction: The Basics. (2016, October). Retrieved from National Institute on Drug Abuse.
[4]: From Relapse to Recovery. (n.d.). Retrieved from JourneyPure: https://journeypureriver.com/from-relapse-to-recovery/
[5]: JourneyPure Coaching. (n.d.). Retrieved from JourneyPure At The River: https://journeypureriver.com/coaching/


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on May 19, 2017.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on May 19, 2017.
Published on AddictionHope.com