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The paramount importance of aftercare in the drug rehabilitation process grows out of one simple fact: Drug rehab never really ends. Drug addiction is, by its very nature, a lingering disease, an affliction against which the only defense is constant vigilance. Successful drug treatment, then, is that which continues long after a patient has left a drug treatment center, through the aftercare programs and 12-step groups that help addicts make a lifetime commitment to sobriety. Anything short of total recovery, you might say, doesn’t deserve to be called recovery at all.

Unfortunately, not every drug rehab program takes proper stock of aftercare and its importance. Indeed, many drug treatment plans end after a patient’s stay in a primary treatment center, on the assumption that sobriety once is sobriety forever, and an addict who’s stopped using drugs is an addict who’s overcome addiction. Unfortunately, such thinking is wildly inaccurate, and those drug rehab programs which fail to provide aftercare services to their patients are generally woefully unsuccessful on any kind of long-term basis.

What that means, simply stated, is that aftercare is an integral part of lasting sobriety. Yes, drug rehab itself is hugely important to the healing process, but it’s aftercare that makes it permanent, aftercare which teaches recovery patients how to stay sober amidst the stresses and strains of the real world. Addiction recovery, after all, doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and only through proper aftercare services can a patient hope to make a successful transition to independent and functional sobriety.
It’s in that spirit that we sketch here a brief outline of the addiction treatment process and aftercare’s place in it: a glimpse at the manner in which aftercare at once fits into a more expansive drug rehab process and helps to bring that process to a kind of meaningful fruition. If you want to beat drug addiction, you’ve got to admit yourself to a drug treatment center…but if you want drug treatment to work, you’ve got be sure it is followed by an edifying aftercare program. There is, in the end, no other way out of the depths of drug abuse. For more information or help finding the right drug treatment facility for you, call the professionals at The Watershed Addiction Treatment Programs 1-800-861-1768 or visit

Drug Dependency

The impetus for aftercare is rooted in the mechanisms of drug dependency itself. Drug addiction is both a physiological and a psychological phenomenon, and drug abuse is a function of an addict’s physical and emotional makeup. With that in mind, addiction treatment must address the thought processes which cause an addict to use drugs in the first place, and only extensive addiction counseling programs can help patients develop the personal resolve to get sober and stay sober.

It’s important to note that the jointly physical and psychological nature of addiction means that an addict can recover, but is never “cured.” The emotional strain of drug abuse can persist long after an addict has achieved a state of nominal sobriety, and recovery patients are bound to battle the psychological demons of drug craving for years after they’ve managed to get themselves outwardly clean. Indeed, long-term sobriety can only be a product of persistent willpower: If they want to stay sober, recovered addicts have got to actively choose not to use drugs.

It’s in that choosing, as you might expect, that aftercare plays an instrumental role. Remember, a patient isn’t “healed” the moment he completes drug rehab, and drug addiction isn’t “cured” by the doctors and caregivers at a primary drug treatment center. In a practical sense, actually, addicts are never healed, and addiction is never cured; drug treatment is ultimately an ongoing process, one that can only be sustained by virtue of its patients’ active involvement in their own healing. Aftercare, you might say, helps to bring that involvement into being: It provides a supportive framework in which addicts can learn to choose sobriety, again and again and again and again, with the sort of stubborn determination upon which any sort of meaningful drug recovery must ultimately be based.

Make no mistake: Drug dependency never dies easy. Beating drug addiction, in the end, is and has got to be a struggle; recovery takes work, and no addict who’s not willing to test himself in the healing process can ever hope to make sobriety a real and lasting and meaningful thing. The key, of course, lies in seeking help: in using the support offered by drug rehab and aftercare programs to help you get where you want to go. Anything less, unfortunately, just won’t cut it.

Drug Rehabilitation

Of course, aftercare doesn’t matter if it isn’t preceded by effective and thorough drug rehabilitation. Indeed, drug rehab programs are in an important sense responsible for preparing patients to meet the challenges of independent sober living, and thus are symbiotically linked to aftercare plans. Getting better, in the end, is a function both of primary drug treatment itself and the manner in which that drug treatment is a conduit to continuing recovery.

Think of it like this: You can’t put the cart before the horse. Yes, long-term sobriety is ultimately a function of the real-life skills and real-world self-control that a patient develops in aftercare. And yes, every drug rehab program is ultimately only as effective as the aftercare services that follow it. But, again, you can’t get to aftercare without going through drug rehab, and the nature of the journey, as you might expect, is in a very important sense tied to the nature of its outcome.

What makes for effective drug rehabilitation, and how does it help to facilitate successful aftercare services? On the most basic level, effective drug treatment is that which addresses the joint causes of drug addiction: physical on the one hand, psychological on the other. Remember addiction exists in both physiological and emotional dimensions, and so it is that drug treatment must include both physiological and emotional therapy options. Indeed, only a nuanced combination of drug detox and addiction counseling services can foster the sort of long-term recovery that drug rehab patients so desperately seek.

Again, though, that long-term recovery isn’t a function of drug rehabilitation alone. You shouldn’t put the cart before the horse, but neither should you forget that it’s the cart which is ultimately the most important part of the equation. Sobriety, in the end, can only be achieved by virtue of a competent and comprehensive aftercare program. If you or someone you care about is trying to beat drug addiction, there’s no more important lesson you could ever learn. For more information or help finding the right drug treatment facility for you, call the professionals at The Watershed Addiction Treatment Programs 1-800-861-1768 or visit

Life Beyond the Drug Treatment Center

It is, to say the least, a seminal occasion: the moment at which a recovery patient leaves a drug treatment center. Again, though, the completion of a drug rehab program is by no means the end of an addict’s journey to sobriety; it’s merely a marker on the road, a prelude to the more extensive recovery that does and must follow it. There’s plenty of living to be done beyond a drug treatment center, after all, and no drug treatment plan can be considered effective if it fails to prepare its patients to live every last bit of it.

Independent sobriety is, to say the least, a tough nut to crack. The overwhelming nature of drug addiction generally leaves addicts woefully unprepared for the stresses and strains of life in the real world, and the sudden shock of sober living is enough to plunge many recovery patients back into cycles of drug use and abuse. It’s here, then, that aftercare finds its real purpose: in helping addicts learn to face the challenges of real life without reverting to their old drug habits.

How do we help addicts develop the emotional and social skills necessary for long-term sobriety? An aftercare program succeeds, in the most fundamental sense, when it empowers its patients, and shows them the extent to which they are in control of their own fate. After all, no aftercare program can last forever; at some point, patients are forced to strike out on their own, and only those patients with a robust sense of their own self-agency can hope to actively choose sobriety over any kind of long haul. Aftercare, you might say, works best when it lets patients work for themselves.

Don’t be fooled: Aftercare doesn’t guarantee success. Yes, many patients move on from aftercare programs and halfway houses to lead full and fulfilling lives, but aftercare itself can’t promise you anything. The outcome of aftercare, like the outcome of drug rehab, is ultimately in the hands of the patient. If you’re going to get better, the change has got to come from you.

The 12-Step Philosophy

Sober living, as noted above, entails a constant struggle: Addicts aren’t ever really “cured,” and recovery, if it’s to be meaningful, has got to be an ongoing process. For the better part of fifty years, 12–step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous have supported drug treatment graduates in their lifelong struggles against addiction, with a track record of success that should provide hope to every recovery patient.

Again, aftercare and drug rehabilitation don’t last forever: At some point, the recovered addict should perhaps go without saying that the true test of the drug treatment process comes only after the patient has achieved some measure of independence. That said, though, there’s a difference between independence and isolation, and 12-step support groups can be instrumentally important in ensuring that the former doesn’t become the latter.

No addict is alone. That’s the most important lesson a recovery patient can learn, and the founding principle of 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous: The addiction recovery experience can and should be a locus of communion, and community. 12-step groups work because they give recovered addicts access to a network of individuals who, to put it simply, have been there; 12-step groups are successful because they function to remind a recovered addict that his struggles aren’t unique, and that his fight against drug addiction binds his to a group that is far larger than just himself.

As an adjunct to aftercare programs, 12-step support groups ultimately provide recovery patients with those most precious of all commodities: hope and courage. As noted above, the fight against drug addiction is and must be an ongoing one, and the strain of the battle is liable to test even the most robust spirit. There are, simply stated, moments at which you’re going to need friends if you want to stay sober. The 12-step philosophy, if you give it a chance, might just help you find them. For more information or help finding the right drug treatment facility for you, call the professionals at The Watershed Addiction Treatment Programs 1-800-861-1768 or visit

Making Sobriety Matter

It’s a deceptively simple statement, when you really get down to it: The goal of drug rehab is sobriety. That’s the point, of detox and addiction counseling and aftercare programs and everything else: to help addicts get better, to help addicts get back to living life the way it can and should and used to be lived. Drug treatment doesn’t matter if it doesn’t help addicts get sober, and by the same token sobriety doesn’t matter unless it allows addicts to rediscover hope and faith and joy and love.

Again, no drug rehab program can guarantee success. Even with access to competent aftercare services, recovery patients face an uphill battle on the road to sobriety, and the only certainty is that of the struggle itself. If you want to get better, you’ve got to pay the price, and put yourself on the line; if you want to get sober, you’ve got to be ready for the fight of your life.

But, and to emphasize a point that shouldn’t need emphasizing, it’s worth it: the fight, the struggle, journey from drug rehab to aftercare to independent sober living. It’s not easy, of course, but the most important things rarely are, and if you’ve made it this far you don’t need to be told that the alternative couldn’t ever be acceptable.

The bottom line: drug rehabilitation and aftercare can help you get where you want to go, but only if you’ve got the strength to take the steps on your own. For your own sake, and for the sake of the people you care about, make today the day you start putting one front in front of the other.

For more information or help finding the right drug treatment facility for you, call the professionals at The Watershed Addiction Treatment Programs 1-800-861-1768 or visit

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