Continuing care is an extremely important idea in the world of recovery and the treatment of addiction. You might notice that one of the links that I placed above this article is a link to information on Telehealth Aftercare, which is a form of continuing care. Many of the most serious cases of addiction, or substance use disorder, will need the 3 programs I linked above in that exact order: Detox comes before residential rehab, which then comes before Telehealth Aftercare, which is a program that helps patients stay in touch with the facility and the therapists and clinicians that helped them through a time of crisis. Many research studies have found merit in continuing care, and today I want to share some results from one large study that looked at continuing care and how it affects the treatment of addiction in the United States. If you or a loved one needs addiction treatment, the best drug and alcohol rehab in Florida is Florida Springs, and you can call our facility today at the number listed at the top of our website.
From the research paper I chose for today,
“Due to the recognition that substance use disorder can be a chronic, long-term disorder, there has been an increase in research on how to improve the effectiveness of continuing care.”
Most people working in this field, as I do, are comfortable with the description of addiction as a chronic, long-term disorder. There are individuals who have periods in life where alcohol or another drug was a problem for them and they simply stopped, but in most cases that we see in addiction treatment, stopping the use of alcohol and/or other drugs is much more difficult, and it requires professional help. Continuing care is the contact that is maintained between the patient and the treatment facility after a period of intense 24-hour treatment, often around 30 days, and many people think of that 30-day period as “rehab”. So, what comes after rehab? For many people there are strong and important bonds and relationships that are built during that 30 day stay in “rehab”. For example, Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center often treats patients for 30 days starting with a period of “Detox”, where the alcohol and drugs leave the body and medical supervision is always nearby. After detox and residential treatment at Florida Springs, the patient has the option of participating in Telehealth Aftercare. Telehealth Aftercare offers the opportunity to stay in touch with members of your clinical team that you have built relationships with while in treatment. This is a great opportunity for many people, and the fact that Telehealth Aftercare is done over the internet means that distance travelled is not a factor in a patient’s participation in Telehealth Aftercare. Now that you understand the type of aftercare we use at Florida Springs, let’s continue and look at some research that shows the efficacy, or effectiveness, of aftercare in general.
Results of Aftercare on Patients
I will show the results of one study to begin with, but the author of this research paper, James R. McKay at the University of Pennsylvania, looked at several different studies. The first study I will show included people who had involvement with the criminal justice system. They all reported problems with abusing cocaine, and 40% of those with cocaine problems also had Alcohol Use Disorder (Alcoholism):
“The outcome measure was criminal convictions in the 4 years after admission to treatment. Controlling for a criminal sentence in the year prior to baseline, gender, age, and continuing care study, people with cocaine use disorder randomized to an IOP plus a telephone-based continuing care intervention had 54% lower odds of a criminal conviction and sentence in the 4 years after enrollment into the continuing care study, compared to those randomized to an IOP alone.”
In other words, all of the people with cocaine problems received a program we would call Intensive Outpatient treatment, but those that received an aftercare program that included phone calls every few days were over 50% less likely to get arrested again in the four years after they completed treatment. Data like that, and the fact that most data on aftercare shows similarly good results, is the reason the best drug and alcohol rehabs in Florida, including Florida Springs, have aftercare programs for people that receive treatment at their facility. In our eyes, telehealth aftercare, in which a patient and therapist can see each other if they want, is probably even better than simply calling someone on the phone. The Covid-19 pandemic has made close contact difficult in health care, but we feel fortunate at Florida Springs to already have a Telehealth Aftercare, or internet-based aftercare, system in place.
McKay and colleagues also found programs with successful track records that included a technique called Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention. The Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention studies looked at in this review by McKay showed that patients who participated in this form of aftercare also had many fewer days spent drinking large amounts of alcohol, which is a good measurement when trying to assess the success of a program built for alcoholics. In my view, the data that McKay unpacks in his work seems to show that probably everyone who receives treatment for Substance Use Disorder (SUD) or addiction should participate in some form of aftercare. That would include telephone-based aftercare, Mindfulness-based aftercare, and Telehealth Aftercare as you would find it at Florida Springs. People in crisis need human connections to get through difficult times, and aftercare programs extend our relationships with clients in a way that seems completely beneficial based on the research I have seen. If you or a loved one needs more information on detox, inpatient, outpatient, or aftercare programs, please call us today to speak to a counselor.
By T.A. Cannon (Contact me at TACannonWriting@gmail.com)
“Impact of continuing care on recovery from substance use disorder.” McKay et al. Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania.