The drug abuse problem in New York has been growing at an alarming rate. According to official 2023 data, 2.8 million of the state’s residents aged 12 and older suffer from a level of substance use disorder. Data also showed that the number of overdose deaths in 2021 has increased by 78% compared to 2019.

Effective treatment can play a critical role in curbing those numbers, but for addiction treatment plans to be reliable, various aftercare services should be incorporated. After all, aftercare treatment is the key to preventing relapse and maintaining long-term recovery.

In today’s guide, we’re explaining what aftercare means, its goals, types, and duration. This will help you have a better understanding of the different steps of addiction treatment.

What Is An Aftercare Plan?

Aftercare is the final stage of addiction treatment and the main line of defense against relapse. It consists of any form of care, support, or treatment that a recovering patient takes part in after completing initial detox and rehab.

An aftercare plan is developed to help individuals overcome their substance abuse disorder outside of a controlled setting with 24/7 care. Through aftercare services, patients learn to control triggers and cravings to remain drug-free.

Additionally, aftercare makes it easier to transition from rehab life to a normal life while supporting patients to integrate back into society and assume everyday responsibilities. Aftercare also encourages accountability by building a reliable support system.

What Makes Up an Aftercare Plan?

It’s important to recognize the four main aspects that compose an aftercare plan:

Monitoring Patient’s Health

This is a critical part of ensuring sobriety and it includes:

  • Keeping track of the physical and mental symptoms of addiction/withdrawal
  • Providing medical solutions such as medications and therapy to manage to adverse consequences of addiction
  • Running periodic checks to detect the presence of drugs in the body
  • Follow-up with patients regarding old or new health issues

Building a Healthy Social Circle

The patient’s ability to stay drug-free depends largely on their social life. Aftercare helps patients mend and improve relationships with family and friends, become functioning members of the community, and build new connections with peers to provide extra support.

Achieving Self-Meaning

This aspect of aftercare is essential for finding motivation to stay drug-free. Helping patients find a sense of purpose and meaning in life can be accomplished through assuming responsibilities and reaching achievements in school, work, or relationships.

Oversee a Stable Living Arrangement

Aftercare plans often address the patient’s housing situation after finishing initial treatment, typically by recommending a sober living home or another form of stable residence for the first few months of recovery.

What Treatment Options Are Available in Aftercare?

The first step in formulating an aftercare plan is to thoroughly assess the patient’s specific case.

To increase the chances of effective treatment, medical professionals will consider the type and severity of addiction as well as the patient’s progress and needs. From there, they can decide on the best course of action from various aftercare approaches.

These aftercare services use a wide range of techniques that can be implemented for different levels, settings, and durations of addiction. Here are the most common aftercare treatment options available:

Therapy and Counseling

Besides supervised programs, several types of therapies and counseling sessions are used in aftercare plans. These are a crucial part of aftercare and can be implemented within facility-conducted programs or received alone.

Therapy and counseling deal with the patient’s mental health, which is the most influential factor contributing to substance abuse disorders. Not to mention, it’s the aspect that persists longest after initial treatment.

Examples of therapy and counseling include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT helps patients recognize the unfavorable emotions and behaviors that lead to destructive patterns by figuring out how thought processes and feelings relate to negative actions.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Also referred to as Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET), this form of therapy helps patients seek out motivation to consistently resist cravings and stick to the new drug-free lifestyle.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

A sub-type of CBT, DBT helps individuals identify triggers and provides patients with practical tools to better control cravings and urges. These include actionable coping mechanisms that allow positive management of impulses and triggers.

Biofeedback Therapy

This type of therapy uses electronic sensors to track the person’s involuntary reactions to a range of external stimuli. For example, the patient’s blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, muscle contractions, and skin temperature.

This information allows case managers to expect the response of patients to physical and mental stressors, which helps in building effective coping mechanisms.

Experiential Therapy

This form of therapy encourages patients to engage in hands-on activities that help in processing trauma and repressed feelings and achieve stronger self-awareness. Common examples include:

  • Music therapy
  • Recreation therapy
  • Wilderness therapy
  • Adventure therapy
  • Ropes courses
  • Rock climbing
  • Sculpting

Holistic Therapy

This type of therapy focuses on the overall well-being of the patient’s physical and mental state. It employs alternative practices such as:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Guided meditation
  • Pet-assisted therapy
  • Aromatherapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Proper nutrition
  • Art therapy

Faith-Based Drug Rehab

This type of therapy helps religious patients deal with the spiritual side of their addiction and recovery.

Supervised Programs

One of the main domains of aftercare services comprises treatment programs managed by specialized addiction centers. The general approach here is to have patients report to the facility, participate in individual/group therapy sessions, and then leave afterward.

Supervised aftercare programs include;

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)

Patients enrolled in a PHP visit the treatment facility at least 5 days a week and receive therapy for 4 to 6 hours per day. This pattern goes on for about 1 to 3 months before transitioning to a more flexible program.

One of the main differences between PHPs and in-patient/residential programs is that individuals don’t spend the night at the rehab center. PHPs are in the middle of the road between residential and outpatient programs

The support level in a PHP is closely regulated with a bit of flexibility, so it’s typically recommended for patients whose substance use disorder is mild to moderate in severity.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)

IOPs represent a compromise between PHPs and standard outpatient programs. They’re more flexible than PHPs and more structured than standard outpatient programs.

IOPs are meant to nurture independence as patients learn to live without the tight supervision of detox and initial treatment. They normally last a few weeks up to a couple of months and are indicated for patients whose addiction problem is moderate in severity.

Similar to a PHP, an IOP patient attends therapy sessions at the treatment facility and leaves to resume everyday life once the day’s plans are complete. The difference is that the sessions in IOPs are shorter and fewer, usually 2 to 4 hours a day, 2 or 3 days a week.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

Standard outpatient programs provide the highest level of flexibility with enough structure to keep patients grounded, so they’re recommended for individuals with mild cases of addiction or transitioning from a PHP or IOP.

In an outpatient program, patients go to the facility once or twice a week for about an hour or two of therapy. This usually lasts for a few weeks and up to 2 months.

Support Groups

12-step programs and similar peer support groups are vital for creating a sense of belonging and forging new relationships with relatable individuals with experience in dealing with addiction. Examples of support groups include:

Halfway Homes

The goal of halfway or sober residences is to help recovering patients stay in a stable environment as they transition from living under close supervision at a rehab facility to living independently.

Sober living can ease the stress of the change, which may push individuals into relapse. Halfway homes range from clinically supervised establishments to ones fully run by peers, providing patients with a healthy living format that supports continued sobriety.

How Long Do Aftercare Plans Last?

The duration of an aftercare plan depends on each patient’s unique situation. But in most cases, some form of aftercare must remain part of the patient’s life. That’s because recovery from a chronic disorder like addiction is a lifelong journey.

That said, the common practice is that the more structured aftercare services are recommended for the first 60 days after completing the initial rehab period, during which the risk of relapse is at its peak. The patient then transitions to more flexible aftercare approaches.

Conclusion: Staying on the Right Track

If you or your loved one is struggling with staying drug-free, please reach out to us at Long Island Intervention. Our team will help guide you to overcome your substance use disorder and maintain addiction recovery using a wide range of aftercare addiction treatment techniques.


Published on: 2024-06-27
Updated on: 2024-06-27