Aftercare Treatment Options: Staying Sober

Utilizing a substance abuse aftercare program can drastically help while trying to maintain long-lasting sobriety.

What is Aftercare?

Addiction is a long, multi-step process. It’s not a matter of just providing initial physiological or mental support to addicted individuals. Even after a patient has purged their body of harmful chemicals or substances, that patient needs ongoing support to maintain sobriety and prevent relapsing.


That’s what aftercare is for. Aftercare is a structured way to help individuals recover consistently and avoid relapsing as they work toward life goals and better overall habits. Aftercare can be practiced by both addiction patients along with their friends, family, and others in their support networks.

Aftercare Structured Plans

In a nutshell, aftercare means engaging in a structured plan to:

  • Pursue further recovery efforts
  • Maintain sobriety over the long-term
  • Build a support network to ensure sobriety
  • Build strong, supportive habits to lead to better life outcomes

Forms of Aftercare and Recovery

Aftercare can take many forms. A lot of treatment programs and centers provide aftercare plans for patients to follow. These plans can vary heavily depending on patients’ needs and may include:

  • Moving to a sober living home for a certain amount of time
  • Participating in a treatment clinic’s alumni program
  • Attending group or individual counseling sessions
  • Attending recovery meetings, such as 12-step meetings
  • Reaching out to and connecting with sponsors or members of sober support systems
It’s important to develop an aftercare program early in the recovery process. To help treatment efforts stick and to reduce the likelihood of relapse, aftercare programs are a necessity for every addiction treatment patient.1
substance abuse aftercare program

Substance Abuse Aftercare Treatment Options

Fortunately, there are many different substance abuse aftercare treatment methods or therapies to help patients depending on how their needs may vary. Different options may be available depending on the program and its unique offerings. Let’s break down some of the most common aftercare treatment options one by one.

Facility-Based Programs

Facility-based treatment programs take place in specific treatment facilities. These include inpatient or rehab facility aftercare programs. Facility-based aftercare programs often include:

  • Meeting regularly with in-clinic therapists or counselors.
  • Engaging in exercise, yoga, and meditation.
  • Working with guidance counselors to establish career options after leaving the program.
  • Using clinic resources to connect with friends and family members for an out of clinic support network.

Who Benefits from Facility-based Aftercare Programs?
Facility-based aftercare programs are primarily used by those engaged with inpatient recovery programs. This aftercare program is typically done towards the end of the recovery sequence. This allows recovering addicts to transition smoothly into the aftercare portion of the program without having to upset their daily balance or routines.

Sober Living Homes

Sober living homes are communal residences where recovering addicts live among one another and support each other throughout the recovery process. Sober living homes are safe, clean places that allow tenants to create safe daily routines without access to substances.

 
While living in sober living homes, recovering addicts can:

  • Build important friendships and support networks for themselves
  • Connect with outside support groups, like twelve-step programs
  • Learn more about their recovery techniques or therapies

What Can Sober Living Homes Accomplish?
Sober living homes are excellent as aftercare steps to transition back into regular life. They can be very effective for addicts who worry about the potential for relapse if they leave an inpatient program and immediately go back to their daily routines.

An Inside Look at Sober Living Homes

Therapy and Counseling

Therapy and counseling are often included in aftercare treatments. Different types of therapy and counseling may be utilized depending on patient needs and therapist skill sets. Therapy and counseling:

  • Teach recovering addicts self-control and emotional regulation tools.
  • Connect recovering users with support groups or peers.
  • Offer therapy methods to assist in overcoming desires for substances.

Types of Therapy Used in Aftercare

Many substance abuse aftercare programs use different types of therapy, including:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This type of therapy emphasizes learning positive ways of thinking while deconstructing unhelpful mental habits. It helps individuals become their own therapists over time.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): This style of therapy involves group therapy, individual therapy, and even phone coaching if necessary. It helps individuals develop mindfulness skills and learn more emotional regulation skills over time.
  • Holistic therapy: This involves using holistic therapy treatments like yoga, meditation, and more to improve holistic wellness and health. Over time, this yields major, noticeable benefits for mental wellness and substance abuse aftercare.
  • Biofeedback therapy: This is a unique technique in which patients learn to control some of their bodily functions, like their heart rates. Biofeedback therapy can help individuals control themselves during stressful situations, which is a helpful skill for avoiding relapsing.
  • Experiential therapy: This uses therapeutic experiences like music or painting therapy to help individuals express negative emotions in positive ways. This can help them cope with the recovery experience.
  • Faith-based drug rehab: This type of rehab is primarily leveraged at faith-focused recovery centers. Faith-based drug rehab involves using religious meetings and faith as a source of internal motivation to recover from addiction and stay sober.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy (MET): This is a special counseling approach that helps individuals stop drug use and engage in treatment by developing internally motivated change.

Support Groups

Many substance abuse aftercare programs leverage support groups to great extent. Support groups are so effective because, as social creatures, most humans benefit from the support of other people and can tackle major challenges more consistently with it.


Support groups use friends, family members, or recovery program peers to give recovering addicts the social support they need to succeed and stay sober.

substance abuse aftercare program

Support Groups for Substance Abuse Aftercare Programs

There are many different support groups that substance abuse aftercare programs may utilize.

12-Step Groups

These types of programs follow a 12-step recovery process involving introducing oneself to the group, attending meetings regularly, and meeting with a sponsor or coach. It also focuses on several core aspects:

  • Accepting or admitting that one has a problem and that they are powerless to correct it
  • Accepting that there’s hope
  • Surrendering to the support of the group or a higher power, such as God, to seek assistance with recovery

Many 12-step groups are faith-based or heavily involve faith in the material, while some programs are atheist. Regardless, 12-step groups provide both peer support and a structured sequence of steps for recovering addicts to follow, making them very effective for aftercare treatment.

Peer Recovery Support Networks

Peer recovery support networks are similar to 12-step groups but do not necessarily involve quite as much. These recovery support networks connect recovering or recovered addicts with one another, oftentimes tethering new patients requiring lots of aftercare to “coaches” or sponsors who understand the challenges they face.

How Can Peer Recovery Support Networks Aid Aftercare?
Peer recovery support networks help during aftercare by:

  • Showing patients that they’re not alone and that others understand what they’re going through.
  • Providing social or structural support to recovering addicts, lowering the likelihood of relapse.
  • Giving recovering addicts the opportunity to meet new people, thus helping them build positive, affirming lives outside of the recovery program.

Lots of aftercare focuses exclusively on helping patients rebalance themselves once outside of a treatment program. Peer recovery support networks are uniquely effective in this regard for many patients.

How is Social Support Connected to Wellness?

Adolescent Programs

Adolescent programs are aftercare programs specifically tailored to adolescents who struggle with substance abuse. Many of these programs are partially residential, then release adolescents back into the care of their parents or guardians later.


Regardless, adolescent programs mainly treat teenagers. These aftercare programs provide important social and educational support to help teens who struggle with substance abuse or behavioral disorders.

Other Support Groups

Many other support groups exist as well. Different aftercare programs may focus on support groups such as family therapy, talk therapy, and much more.


But all support groups help the overall goals of aftercare: to make recovering addicts feel strong and secure and to help them stay sober for the rest of their lives.

substance abuse aftercare program

Common Forms of Outpatient Substance Abuse Aftercare

Lots of substance abuse treatment programs provide outpatient substance abuse aftercare options. This type of aftercare takes place outside of a recovery facility and enables recovering addicts to return to their work or families while still giving them the structure and support they need to stay sober.

Partial Hospitalization Programs

Partial hospitalization programs, or PHP, are intended for individuals:

  • Who aren’t at risk of harming themselves or others.
  • Who are medically stable.
  • Who have difficulty functioning properly at school, work, or in other occupations.
  • Who are motivated to participate in treatment programs.
  • Who sometimes experience co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders.
  • Who have adequate support at home.

How Can PHP Aid in Aftercare?
In a nutshell, PHP have patients return to a hospital or clinic during the day for aftercare treatment, and then they return to their homes at night. Most PHP programs run for several hours each day for three to five days each week. Partial hospitalization programs can be effective for aftercare since they consist of:

  • Skill-building practices
  • Individual and group therapy sessions
  • Psychoeducation
  • Periodic evaluations of sobriety
Most PHP programs are overseen by licensed therapists or treatment specialists. They may include more physical or medical assistance depending on what the patients need.2

Intensive Outpatient Programs

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are also sometimes used for aftercare treatment. These treatment programs can assist individuals who have already left a rehab clinic but who still need to build proper support mechanisms to assist with relapse management or emotional coping.


IOP and Aftercare Opportunities
IOPs are not as relaxed or flexible as some other outpatient treatment programs. These aftercare programs often involve:

  • Group therapy sessions at locations other than rehab clinics.
  • Individual therapy sessions.
  • Complementary therapies like adventure therapy, music therapy, etc.
  • Mandatory support group participation.
These aftercare programs can be beneficial for those who have to return to work or to their families for monetary or other reasons.3

Individual or Group Therapy

Many substance abuse aftercare programs rely heavily on individual or group therapy sessions. Individual therapy involves having a patient speak with a licensed therapist or counselor one-on-one. The therapist can then help them develop coping strategies during aftercare, provide educational support to build proper habits and help maintain sobriety.


Group therapy sessions are led by licensed counselors, but multiple recovering addicts can cooperate with each other, listen to one another, and support each other at the same time.

Factors That Affect the Choice of Substance Abuse Aftercare Program

There are many different substance abuse aftercare programs to consider. Certain factors may affect which aftercare program is best for you or your loved one’s needs. These factors can include:

  • Age: Some rehab treatment facilities and aftercare programs are geared toward older individuals. These might be better for full adults who need aftercare support. On the other hand, teenagers might be better suited for adolescent aftercare programs. 
  • Gender: Some aftercare programs are for predominantly males, females, or for those that don’t fit into either of those categories.
  • The duration and type of primary treatment used: Aftercare programs are heavily differentiated by the primary treatments they leverage. Research aftercare programs carefully and find one that you believe will be most effective for your rehab and aftercare needs.
  • Substance abuse history: Some aftercare treatments, such as sober living homes, might not be as effective for people depending on what substance they used. Others, such as PHP programs, might be better if you’re worried about getting access to substances and relapsing.

Ultimately, only you can decide which substance abuse aftercare treatment program is right for your needs. Be sure to research each aftercare program and what it involves before signing yourself into it.

substance abuse aftercare program

The Goals of Substance Abuse Aftercare Programs

Regardless of the program you choose, all continuing care programs have the same core goals.

Relapse Prevention

Firstly, substance abuse aftercare prioritizes the prevention of relapse. Relapsing can be dangerous and even deadly for recovering addicts, so preventing it is a major focus for all aftercare treatments.

Developing Healthy Behaviors

Next, aftercare treatment programs help recovering addicts develop healthy behaviors. These behaviors can include positive thinking, how to avoid risky situations, and how to take care of oneself after leaving the aftercare program.

Connecting People with Inspiring Support Systems

Aftercare programs connect recovering addicts with inspiring support systems, like 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. These support systems can help individuals stay sober and recover more quickly, even if it may be challenging.

Continuous Engagement in the Recovery Process

Aftercare programs further assist by helping addicts engage in the recovery process all the time. Recovery is a long and complex process, and it doesn’t end when one exits a rehab clinic.

Other Goals and Benefits

Many aftercare programs provide additional goals and benefits such as:

  • Helping substance users find consistent employment after rehab.
  • Helping recovering users connect with friends and family members.
  • Finding long-term counselors or therapists for ongoing support.

Some Tips for Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention is an important and complex topic in and of itself and involves a lot of careful care for the substance user to help support them. Aftercare treatment programs may provide addicts with strategies or tools they can use to prevent relapsing. Many of these prevention strategies include:

  • Identifying causes that may lead to relapse, such as interacting with certain individuals or going to a certain part of town.
  • Maintaining self-care practices, which can help with self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • Setting relapse prevention plans, such as knowing who to call in the event of relapsing or wanting to relapse.
  • Attending recovery meetings consistently to maintain social support and internal motivation.
  • Attending therapy sessions to better understand one’s emotions and potential relapse causes.
  • Building strong support networks.
  • Moving into sober living facilities if needed to remove temptations and to benefit from more direct social support.
  • Exercising regularly to improve physical wellness and reduce stress hormones. Eating well can also help with this.4

Relapse Prevention: A Deeper Look

substance abuse aftercare program

Aftercare Program for Substance Abuse at San Diego Detox

At San Diego Detox, we offer a robust and supportive aftercare program for individuals recovering from substance use disorder. Our substance abuse aftercare plan includes in-depth therapy, group support, and connections with critical resources like peer mentors to minimize the possibility of you or a loved one relapsing.

Commitment to Personalized Aftercare Support

Our aftercare program is tailored to the needs of individuals with varying types of needs. We can give you or your loved ones the support and resources you need to recover, such as:

  • Sober living home access
  • Inpatient or outpatient rehab programs
  • Support group references
  • Relapse education and prevention tactics
  • And much more

Opportunities for Long Lasting Recovery

Getting help for addiction is just the start of your recovery journey. Continue your journey with the help you need at San Diego Detox. Contact us today for information about our substance abuse aftercare programs and which ones might be the right fit for you.