Choosing to attend an aftercare program after your formal treatment has ended can actually make an incredible difference in the success of your heroin addiction recovery. Many individuals choose to forgo this option, but transition is a necessary part of recovery, so much so that it can actually protect you from relapse. Consider choosing an aftercare program for many of these reasons, and you will find that your recovery is much stronger than it would have been without it.
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A Variety of Options
According to the NCJRS, “Aftercare, considered necessary to prevent relapse, typically consists of” several different possible options. These include
Transitional living like
Sober living houses
12-step meetings/support groups
Periodic group or individual counseling
Any of these aftercare types can begin after a regular treatment program and can make a profound difference to a former heroin user. One of these options is usually chosen based on what the individual needs the most.
For example, if the person is struggling with finding a job but not a safe place to live, vocational counseling will be very helpful to them. In the opposite situation, they may want to consider staying at a sober living house. In almost any situation, some kind of continued therapy or support group meeting will be beneficial and, in many cases, individual therapy sessions are supplemented with regular 12-step attendance at the therapist’s request.
Any of these possible options, however, will be much more beneficial than if the individual has no transitional help at all.
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A study from the NCBI states, “In recent years, relapse prevention has become a vital part of most treatment effects, learned during the intensive stage of treatment and practiced during aftercare.” Heroin has a very high relapse potential because the drug is so addictive, and many individuals struggle with the issue for years after their treatment program has ended. Others attend multiple programs, turning back to treatment whenever they relapse.
Aftercare helps people maintain their commitment to recovery and strengthen their foundation in recovery.
However, when a person attends aftercare in some kind of capacity, it makes them less likely to relapse. Whether this means they choose a drug-free environment in which to live or a consistent meeting schedule that serves as a constant reminder of their drug addiction, aftercare helps prevent the issue of relapse for heroin abusers.
What’s even more beneficial, programs like these help recovering addicts avoid fatal overdose. Former heroin addicts who do relapse have lower tolerances than they had while abusing the drug; therefore, they often take too much and end up overdosing. In fact, “most opiate overdose deaths occur in persons who have just withdrawn or detoxed” because they have not continued with the appropriate treatments (NLM). This can be true of those who forego aftercare as well.
Those individuals who decide to attend aftercare as a part of their heroin recovery learn many more ways to fight their cravings and avoid their triggers. They can also put these lessons into practice while still retaining a safety net through whatever program they choose. Aftercare can keep recovering heroin addicts on the path treatment set for them by slowly transitioning them back to normal life.
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