Aftercare: What to do after the residential treatment
Around 50% of drug abuse patients relapse within a year according to a 2014 study from JAMA. A full rehabilitation is not easy, most patients believe that after a few weeks of treatment and sobriety they will eventually recover completely. However, it takes much more than that.
Of course, each individual is in a different situation, and therefore not all patients need the same time to recover or the same type of treatment. Nevertheless, there is something that they all have in common; each patient should follow an aftercare program.
The next step
When the residential treatment is completed, the patient has already demonstrated he can live as a sober person, while being aware of the risks of addiction, but does that ensure a full recovery? The answer is no. The first step has been completed, and the patient has experienced major progress, but recovery is a long process, some patients need months, years or even a lifetime to effectively beat addiction.
Usually, the reason of relapse is that the patient has been constantly accompanied by a doctor and completely isolated from all consuming temptations during rehab. Upon leaving the facilities, the individual is now about to face real life situations alone, all by himself. It is a drastic change and not easy to handle and comprehend.
In order to overcome this new stage, the clinician must monitor the patient’s progress, instead of leaving the person alone once their stay at the clinic comes to an end. Contact should be kept between the two parties so that the rehabilitation continues progressively until the patient is fully recovered.
Digital health gives us a great opportunity in aftercare programs, it allows clinics to give a more complete and personalized aftercare treatment. It makes it easier for doctors to guide their patients from a distance with direct communication channels, accurate information and even mood trackers. These give an exact description of how the patient is really feeling and progressing, while allowing the responsible doctor to act in consequence if necessary.
The objective here is that the patient puts in practice what has been learned during the treatment with an intermittent supervision of their respective clinician to ensure a long-term recovery.