Substance abuse and substance use disorders often begin as experimentation and, before long, evolve into problematic and potentially dangerous medical and mental health concerns. In time, relationships with family and loved ones dissolve, work and academic performance suffer, and medical and emotional health start to decline.
Unfortunately, while we know a great deal about the physical, psychological, and social effects of addiction, the stigma surrounding those seeking addiction and treatment remains alive and well across the nation. This means that those who seek help may have suffered from social isolation and stigmatization before seeking treatment, and, unfortunately, their situations are unlikely to change after treatment ends. The goal of social reintegration programs for substance abuse is to address what happens after addiction treatment and reduce instances of social isolation for recovered addicts that could lead to relapse.
Understanding Addiction Treatment
Depending on the substance or substances used, substance use drug or alcohol addiction can evolve quickly. While substances such as alcohol require a long-term pattern of chronic abuse and misuse before addiction takes hold, addiction to other substances such as heroin can develop after just one use. It is also important to note that achieving sobriety and lasting recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is not always a simple or straightforward path. More often than not, recovery from addiction requires seeking help at a treatment program like The Hills in Los Angeles, CA, where trained medical and mental health professionals can help you safely and effectively get sober.
Unfortunately, certain substances, especially benzodiazepines, opioids, and alcohol, can produce intense and powerful detox symptoms that can be dangerous in some cases. Although it may seem easier to quit drinking or using drugs “cold turkey,” this is not always the safest or the best route to take. Regardless of how long you have been using, withdrawal symptoms often occur as your body begins to cleanse itself from the effects of toxic substances. Depending on the severity of your addiction (how long you have been using, how often you use, and the type of substance you use), withdrawal symptoms can be debilitating and life-threatening.
At an addiction treatment center, you will receive the medical, emotional, and nutritional support you need to get sober safely. Working with a therapist and other treatment professionals, you will have the opportunity to learn more about addiction and develop coping strategies you can use when faced with relapse triggers after your treatment. But what happens after treatment ends? For those who struggled before seeking treatment with social concerns such as homelessness, joblessness, financial and legal problems, the days, weeks, and months immediately post-treatment can be full of anxiety, stress, and fear. The goal of social reintegration programs and aftercare programs is to reduce or eliminate these post-treatment concerns.
What is aftercare?
Addiction treatment will help you achieve sobriety and maintain long-term recovery. In rehab, you will learn about and explore the issues that lie at the root of your addiction. You will also practice safer and healthier ways to manage negative thoughts and behavior patterns that continue to fuel addictive behaviors. However, once rehab ends, what happens next? A comprehensive aftercare or social reintegration program is vital to your treatment plan. Proper aftercare helps you slowly and safely reintegrate into your daily obligations and responsibilities with a high level of support.
Without aftercare planning, many in the early (and often most challenging stages) of recovery struggle with isolation, stigma, and other challenges directly related to how their newfound sobriety has changed their day-to-day lives. They also come face to face with the difficulties they struggled to manage before seeking treatment. It is not uncommon for these challenges and triggers to lead to relapse. A crucial part of aftercare planning is ensuring you have the appropriate support as you transition out of the primary treatment program to ensure you don’t fall back into old habits. Examples of these supports include sober living homes, ongoing therapy, MAT programs, peer support groups, and assistance getting to and from medical and mental health appointments.
Although the term social reintegration is frequently connected to the release of inmates from prison, social reintegration also has a longstanding history with addiction and mental health treatment. Before going to rehab, many who suffer from drug and alcohol use disorders experience social, emotional, and behavioral struggles that make it challenging to maintain day-to-day obligations and manage societal expectations. Although these challenges temporarily disappear during rehab, they are quick to return once rehab ends. Social reintegration or addiction treatment aftercare programs strive to ease the process of successfully reintegrating back into your community by using the tools and supports put in place by your treatment team at The Hills.
Social Reintegration and Aftercare Programs
Before starting rehab, many who suffer from drug or alcohol use disorders face issues with education, employment, and homelessness; therefore, three crucial elements of social integration are helping to secure housing, education, and employment (including necessary vocational training). Additionally, counseling, medical appointments, and other relapse prevention measures such as drug testing and medication-assisted therapy may be used as part of social reintegration programs.
Many of these programs are included as part of sober living arrangements in the aftercare setting. If homelessness was a concern before going to rehab, choosing to spend time in a sober living community after completing a primary treatment program provides access to all of these essential elements of social integration and more. A sober living community offers safe, stable, secure housing for those who have recently completed an addiction treatment program. At a sober living house (sober home, halfway house, transitional housing, sober living community, etc.), newly recovered addicts are provided housing in an environment free from potentially triggering situations such as exposure to drugs, alcohol, or other stressful circumstances that might have led them to use or drink alcohol in the past.
A sober living home removes the need to search for safe, substance-free housing in the community if homelessness was a concern before beginning treatment. Additionally, sober living communities eliminate the need to return to a living situation that might be detrimental to long-term recovery, such as an apartment or other housing situation where other residents continue to drink or use drugs.
Social reintegration programs as part of a comprehensive aftercare program often include assistance with education and vocational training. A critical factor in maintaining lasting recovery is stable employment. Unfortunately, many recovering addicts struggle to find or maintain employment once leaving treatment. Some may find they lack the basic education or vocational training needed to secure a job. Still, others, while they may have high school diplomas, college degrees, or vocational certificates, experience difficulties securing interviews or employment with a substance abuse history.
Part of social reintegration involves helping newly recovered addicts secure the education or training they need to interview for jobs in their community. This may include helping you complete a GED program to get your high school diploma, enroll in college to get a degree, or begin technical or vocational training to enter the workforce. Also, the treatment counselors that work as part of social reintegration programs are familiar with employers who will hire addicts in recovery and can put you in touch with them. Securing employment allows you to begin supporting yourself (including paying for necessities such as housing, personal care items, food, and more) as you ease back into performing your pre-treatment daily routines and obligations.
Social reintegration programs also focus on ongoing drug and addiction treatment therapy. Completing a primary addiction treatment program is a substantial accomplishment; however, addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing condition. Maintaining sobriety and lasting recovery will require a lifelong commitment to your physical and emotional health. With time, you will find that coping with and managing triggers becomes easier; however, triggers will always exist.
Continued participation in therapy or peer support groups such as AA or NA provides access to a group of like-minded, sober peers who share similar goals. Peer support groups are also a vital support source for maintaining ongoing sobriety. Unfortunately, many who are new to recovery find that their previous social groups are no longer safe or supportive of their newfound sobriety. This means that your previous social circles inevitably change and evolve. In some instances, this can lead to loneliness and isolation, a leading factor in substance abuse relapse. But, engaging in peer support groups and other sober activities provides new social outlets, which can be vital to maintaining lasting recovery and effective social reintegration.
Although social reintegration programs are familiar as part of the criminal justice system, they are, unfortunately, not as well known for post-addiction and mental health treatment needs. However, it is clear that the ongoing care, guidance, and support provided as part of a social reintegration program for newly recovered addicts is vital to maintaining lasting recovery. The elements of traditional aftercare or social reintegration programs such as housing, ongoing addiction therapy, and educational, medical, and mental health supports are vital components of maintaining lasting sobriety.
At The Hills, we understand how crucial comprehensive aftercare is to maintaining lasting health and wellness. As part of a comprehensive, evidence-based treatment program at our luxury Los Angeles addiction treatment center, we will not only work with you to develop a primary treatment program that addresses your unique addiction treatment needs and goals but also to ensure that the days, weeks, and months following the completion of your stay at The Hills are free from the stigma and challenges that make social reintegration complex and difficult to manage. Let us help you take your first steps towards lasting freedom from addiction. Contact a member of our admissions team today to learn more.