Overcoming an addiction isn’t easy, and some of the most difficult challenges of recovery occur after you complete treatment and return home. Relapse is a real risk during early recovery, and that’s why it’s important to have a good aftercare treatment plan in place once you complete rehab.An aftercare plan can include a number of different elements: individual counseling, 12-step programs, support groups, sober living homes and more. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of aftercare in recovery and look at a few aftercare options.

Preventing Relapse

The main focus of most aftercare is relapse prevention. People in recovery face an ongoing threat of relapse. The rate of relapse has been ranging between 40 and 60 percent, depending on the substance of abuse and other factors.1

The transition from the safety and structure of a treatment center to the demands of everyday life can be especially challenging for people in the early stages of recovery. Substance abuse causes changes to the brain’s function, and cravings can continue even after the physical dependence on the substance has been overcome.2 Participating in aftercare services can help keep you motivated and provide valuable support as you make this transition.

A Lifelong Journey

two people facing the ocean with their arms raised toward the sky

Long-term recovery is a lifelong commitment, and many people opt to keep participating in various aftercare programs long after they complete their initial treatment. Support groups, 12-step programs and counseling can help you stay motivated and keep you on the right path.

Many people who have achieved long-term sobriety attribute their success to these aftercare resources. These programs can help you strengthen the coping skills and lifestyle changes you learned during rehab, and they also give you the opportunity to form relationships with other people who share similar recovery goals and challenges.

Types of Aftercare Treatment

Twelve-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, are some of the most common types of aftercare. These groups offer a positive social network for participants, and they teach a set of principles that has proven to resonate with many people. If the spiritual component of a 12-step program doesn’t work for you, many other recovery support groups are available to provide similar benefits.

Counseling is another important aftercare resource, and it can come in the form of either individual or group therapy sessions. Other aftercare services may include job training, educational sessions or mentoring programs. These resources help recovering individuals re-establish other aspects of their lives that have been impacted by addiction.

For people who may be struggling with the transition to everyday life after rehab, sober living homes can be a powerful form of aftercare. Sober living homes provide a safe and structured environment that allows residents to practice their coping skills in temptation-free surroundings.

It doesn’t matter if addiction controlled your life in the past—once you complete treatment and get on the road to recovery, you’re in the driver’s seat. The first year of recovery is going to be challenging, but it’s also important to your long-term success. Don’t tackle it alone; with the help of your support network and a solid aftercare treatment plan, you can establish a new life that’s free of drugs or alcohol.


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction