SUD Aftercare: An Indispensable Part of Successful Treatment

Why do patients receiving Inpatient medically supervised detoxification and rehabilitation levels of care for their substance use disorders (SUD’s) usually succeed in achieving their treatment goals? Our experience at Tully Hill Treatment and Recovery indicates that they succeed because their treatment and care occurs in a setting and environment that is highly structured. It also requires that patients make a sincere commitment to Tully Hill’s programming and services.
We know that SUD’s are a chronic illness requiring ongoing care and support after Inpatient treatment. Therefore, an essential component of effective Inpatient treatment and care is aftercare planning, which actually starts the day of admission at Tully Hill. Our treatment team knows that working with patients to formulate and execute an appropriate treatment and aftercare plan following discharge is critical to their continued sobriety and well-being.
What constitutes an effective aftercare plan for patients being discharged from an Inpatient setting? Aftercare planning needs to be individualized and tailored to meeting the needs of each patient. Our team at Tully Hill works to incorporate the following elements into aftercare…

Ensuring the continued wellbeing of discharged patients – once patients are stabilized medically and emotionally in Inpatient and begin achieving their treatment goals, it’s imperative to teach them how to manage their illness and make healthy decisions that support their emotional and physical welfare once they leave Inpatient treatment.
Discharging patients to safe, stable residences – an important part of effective aftercare is placing patients in a sober, safe, and secure living environment. This usually means a return to one’s home or another suitable environment, with appropriate treatment and care.
Active involvement in Outpatient Treatment—inpatient treatment is only the beginning of SUD treatment. All patients will be referred for ongoing Intensive Outpatient or Outpatient treatment following their discharge, as well as being referred for any ongoing outpatient mental health treatment.
Establishing with patients, sober living skills and support systems – teaching patients coping and sober living skills and helping patients establish and learn to keep sober support systems is an Inpatient treatment goal at Tully Hill. Effective aftercare includes establishing relationships and social and community networks that support a patient’s recovery.
Participation in a 12-Step recovery program – for most discharged patients, participating in a 12-Step recovery program has proven to be a significant factor in achieving and maintaining long-term recovery. Our aftercare planning includes impressing upon patients the value of fully utilizing this strongly recommended, and effective, aftercare plan piece.

It’s important to note that referring patients to longer-term residential care is an alternative to an Intensive Outpatient or Outpatient level of aftercare, when and where appropriate. Having a working relationship with agencies that provide either of these levels of care is important, to ensure that they will provide the treatment and care (including mental health care, if indicated) a discharged patient needs.

Continual growth, improvement in overall health and wellness, and resilience characterize effective aftercare plans. Following through with one’s aftercare plan is the key ingredient to experiencing the multiple benefits of successful recovery.

By
Ken Smith, LCSW
Clinical Director
Tully Hill treatment & Recovery

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