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Aftercare refers broadly to any addiction treatment (or combination of treatment types) that is non-residential, though it usually follows residential/inpatient treatment. As its name would suggest, these are not intended to be stand-alone treatments, but rather ones that continue to provide care after long and intensive treatment.

About Aftercare Addiction Treatment

Inpatient (or residential) treatment is the general starting point in an addict’s journey through sobriety. They are detoxed, mentally and physically stabilized, given medication, and receive therapy. The function of aftercare is to continue to provide similar services and a structured environment. This way, a patient’s transition from highly intense treatment back into society is not abrupt, but rather gradual.

How Aftercare Works

Inpatient is comprehensive, incorporating both clinical and residential aspects into its program. In the aftercare stage, these components of treatment are attended to separately.

Clinical Aftercare

The clinical component of aftercare is run by a treatment center (often the same one where the addict attended inpatient treatment). Such programs provide the same basic services as inpatient treatment, albeit at a less intensive level. These services include:

  • Random drug testing
  • Medication & psychiatry
  • Therapy (at the group, individual and/or family level)

There are multiple varieties of clinical aftercare, each with its own frequency and duration. Quite often, patients will gradually phase out from the most intense to the least intense stages. Such a continuum may look like:

  1. Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): Mon. – Fri. 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (35 hours/week)
  2. Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): Mon., Wed., Fri. 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. (12 hours/week)
  3. Outpatient: Mon. & Wed. 2 p.m.  4 p.m. (4 hours/week)

Residential Aftercare

The residential component is generally attended to by a halfway house. In such a house, addicts live within a small community of other addicts. They are expected to find gainful employment, be home by curfew, and also submit to random drug tests. In addition, they are usually required to take part in a recovery program, generally a 12-step fellowship.

Upon completing both the clinical and residential aspects of aftercare treatment, addicts are more or less independent. They move back home or find their own house or apartment. They may still see a therapist and/or psychiatrist, but these are not mandatory. they have “graduated” from treatment, and are now wholly accountable only to themselves for staying sober and working a recovery program.