Helping a Loved One with Their Recovery
Aftercare helps family members support their loved one in recovery as well as take care of themselves.
Aftercare programs can include individual or group counseling, 12-Step programs and educational programs on addiction.
Family members learn what causes addiction, get emotional support and learn how to avoid enabling or co-dependent behaviors.
Needs, preferences and abilities will determine what kind of aftercare program works best for a family.
Aftercare programs can help teens work through their feelings related to their family member's or friend's addiction and learn coping skills.
What Is Rehab Aftercare?
Rehab aftercare helps family members learn how to best help their loved one continue on their path to recovery and manage their own emotions and stress. This type of care involves:
Participating in counseling sessions, either with a group or one-on-one.
Learning interfamilial and interpersonal coping skills.
Being educated on the processes of drug addiction, as well as the interplay that the family dynamic can have on these processes.
Having a safe place to share concerns and stresses.
How Long Will You Need It and How Often?
The duration of drug treatment aftercare varies from person to person. Some people benefit from going more frequently for longer periods of time. Each individual will have to work with their counselor to determine what is right for them.
If you stop aftercare, you can always start again if circumstances change or you feel that more care is needed.
Importance of Long-Term Aftercare
Long-term aftercare can be extremely important for family and friends.2
They receive the emotional support they need to be able to help support their loved one.
They will also receive education about what addiction is, how they can help and how to notice relapse signs.
They also learn that the addiction is not their fault and that they can't control it or cure it.
They will learn to avoid enabling and co-dependent behaviors.
Do I Need Aftercare?
Along with counseling, educational classes can be very beneficial to the family and help them learn what causes addictions and how they can best help their family member recover1.
Stress management courses will help the entire family to better cope with the individual's return to the family unit and decrease the risk of a relapse .
Risks of Not Having Aftercare
The chances of a relapse decrease a great deal with the help of drug treatment aftercare for both the person in recovery and that person's family.3 Most of these relapses occur within the first 90 days after completion of a treatment program. So it is essential that everyone be involved with a long-term aftercare program right from the beginning.
Support for Family and Friends
Family members can become involved with many different types of aftercare programs. The type of program chosen depends on the needs and desires of the family and the person in recovery, as well as the recommendations of the addiction treatment professional(s) working closely with the individual in recovery.
Some of the types of programs that are available include:
Individual or one-on-one counselingAddresses individual needs and problems centered on family members' healing, as well as teaches helpful support skills necessary to avoid maladaptive behaviors .
Group therapyConnect with other families going through similar situations, while resolving interpersonal problems and reducing feelings of isolation .
Educational programsFocus on understanding addiction, the impact it has on the family, and the steps required to address healing and recovery.
12-Step programSpiritual meetings focused on caretaking, co-dependency, enabling, self-blame and attempts to control the behavior of others. Includes groups such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon .
Integrated Family TherapyFocuses on the family as an interconnected system, examines the behaviors of each member as pertained to the substance abuse, and utilizes the family's strengths to bring about positive change.
Choosing an Aftercare Program
Time for fun that doesn't include substances alongside times of learning and growing are good marks of a successful program.
Family members must take into account their preferences, needs and abilities when choosing which type of program is right for them.
Engaging Teen Family Members in Aftercare
School schedules will need to be accommodated when considering aftercare appointments for the teen family member.
What Extra Support Do Teens Need?
Teens need extra support as they go through the recovery and aftercare process with their family members. They need to realize that their family members' addictions are not their fault, there is nothing they could have done to prevent it and they can't cure it.
By receiving specialized help, teens can work through their emotions and learn coping skills in a way that works for them, which might be different from the adults involved in the process.
How Can Aftercare Help After Your Teen Has Completed Rehab?
Having a teen with an addiction problem can be devastating. Parents need to know how they can best help their teen through the aftercare process. They might realize that they are not to blame for the addiction. They can't cure it, but there are some things they can learn that will be helpful.
Managing their stress, recognizing signs of an impending relapse and knowing how best to encourage and support their child are only a few of the ways that a good aftercare program can help parents cope with a recovering child.5
1. O'Farrell TJ, Murphy M, Alter J, Fals-Stewart W. Brief Family Treatment Intervention to Promote Aftercare Among Male Substance Abusing Patients in Inpatient Detoxification: A Quasi-Experimental Pilot Study. Addictive behaviors. 2007;32(8):1681-1691. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2006.12.001.
2. Stanton MD, Shadish WR. Outcome, attrition, and family-couples treatment for drug abuse: a meta-analysis and review of the controlled, comparative studies. Psychol Bull. 1997 Sep;122(2):170-91. PubMed PMID: 9283299.
3. O'Farrell TJ, Choquette KA, Cutter HS. Couples relapse prevention sessions after behavioral marital therapy for male alcoholics: outcomes during the three years after starting treatment. J Stud Alcohol. 1998 Jul;59(4):357-70. PubMed PMID: 9647418.
4. Van der Westhuizen MA. Relapse prevention for chemically addicted adolescents in recovery: so which model works? J Evid Inf Soc Work. 2015;12(4):400-11. Epub 2015 Mar 2. PubMed PMID: 25730131.
5. Kaminer Y, Burleson JA, Burke RH. The Efficacy of Aftercare for Adolescents with Alcohol Use Disorders: A Randomized Controlled Study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2008;47(12):1405-1412. doi:10.1097/CHI.0b013e318189147c.
- Intensive partial and outpatient programs, independent living and mandatory after care
- Comprehensive Assessment Program that focuses on a compassionate advocacy-based evaluation
- A RiverMend Health recovery program
- Treats non-professionals as well.