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Extended Care

Extended care for addiction recovery helps you stay on track.

Extended care or aftercare can be a necessary part of treatment for many individuals, especially those who need to build their social support network and those who are not yet ready to work without a safety net. Consider your options for aftercare once you have finished detox and addiction treatment, and call 800-996-6135(Who Answers?)  if you are still looking for help finding a program for your needs.

What Is Extended Care?

Extended care is a type of treatment that continues after your original addiction treatment program has ended. It is sometimes also called aftercare. According to the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, “Preventing relapse among treated drug abusers is the primary goal of aftercare.” There are many different optional methods that you can utilize when it comes to extended care, and it is often extremely beneficial to one’s recovery to attend one of these programs.

How Long Does Extended Care Last?

Extended care, in most cases, can last as long as it needs to. Addiction treatment in a rehab center, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, should generally last for at least 90 days. Shorter treatment is considered to be “of limited effectiveness,” and longer treatment programs are often considered to be even more effective. However, even after one finishes their regular rehab program, they may still choose to attend another treatment option in order to strengthen their abilities to fight relapse and the other issues associated with recovery.

What Happens in Extended Care?

Patients often choose an extended care option that suits them, under the advice of their doctor. This option is usually less intensive than the treatment program they attended before. How often one attends aftercare or what the program entails can vary widely. Usually, relapse prevention and reminding the patient of their commitment to recovery are the biggest goals of this type of program.

What Are the Common Aftercare Options?

Depending on your needs, certain types of aftercare will fit you better or worse than others. It is important to consider where you are in your recovery, especially after treatment ends, so you can find the best option for you.

Outpatient Treatment

Many patients who attend a residential rehab or detox center choose outpatient treatment as an extended care option. This is because it is less intensive than inpatient treatment but still provides professional care. Patients see their doctors, receive medication, and can even attend therapy sessions in this type of treatment program.

Outpatient treatment is specifically helpful to those who have jobs or supportive friends and families, as the individual may require help staying on track during their recovery at the times while they are not in treatment.

Group Therapy

Some individuals simply choose to attend a less intensive group therapy program as aftercare, either at their treatment facility or in a therapist’s office. This can help boost your social support network and allow you to navigate your post-treatment recovery more safely.

Booster Sessions

Those who have attended a rehab program and want to return in order to reassess their recoveries may often choose to attend booster sessions. As stated by the NIDA, booster sessions should be frequent, and they should provide support for the individual as they navigate their recovery on the other side of treatment. Usually, these last for one, three, or six months, but sometimes, they will go on longer.

Support Groups

Support groups are often an excellent option for extended care. Many individuals start attending support group meetings while still in treatment and then continue this option during their later recoveries. Support groups have been proven to reduce isolation and feelings of alienation.

12-step groups are some of the most well-known options for aftercare. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, and many other groups exist of which individuals in recovery can become a part. 12-step groups utilize the 12 steps of recovery as well as the idea that one must give themselves over to a higher power in order to fully overcome addiction.

If you are uncomfortable with the 12-step philosophy, other groups like SMART Recovery and Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) also exist. These programs take a more self-actualized approach.

Sober Living Homes

Others may choose to move from a treatment facility to a sober house. According to the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, these facilities are “alcohol- and drug-free living environments that support abstinence by emphasizing involvement in 12-step groups and social support for recovery.” Residents pay rent in order to keep the house in good shape and work together as a unit while also working on their separate recoveries.

Holistic methods

Though evidence-based approaches like medication and behavioral therapy are essential to recovery, many rehab centers offer holistic options to patients, and these can often be continued after the individual’s initial treatment has ended. In many cases, there are classes within your community that will allow you to follow up with these methods or additional facilities that offer them. Holistic methods for addiction recovery can include:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Acupuncture
  • Dance/art therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Tai chi

Find local holistic programs by contacting us today.

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How Can I Pay for an Aftercare Program?

Many patients choose not to seek aftercare because they are concerned about the cost. However, there are many ways to pay for these various types of treatment programs.

With professional rehab programs like outpatient care or booster sessions, you can finance your payments or use your insurance to help you pay. And you can often attend yoga and meditation classes in your community, sometimes even for free. Sober living homes ask that residents pay rent, which shouldn’t be difficult if you have a job, and support group meetings are usually free to attend. Aftercare costs are often different from regular rehab or detox treatment costs, but it is important to find out upfront how much you will be expected to pay.

How Do I Find Extended Care Rehab Programs?

Your caregivers at your rehab facility will often help you make the transition into a safe aftercare program. However, you can also call 800-996-6135(Who Answers?) to learn more about the treatment options available to you as well as the extended care programs that many individuals utilize after treatment is over.


  1. The International Journal of the Addictions. (1985). Aftercare in Drug Abuse Treatment.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)- How Long Does Drug Addiction Treatment Usually Last?
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2003). Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents (In Brief)- What Are the Core Elements of Effective Research-Based Prevention Programs?
  4. American Psychological Association. (2012). Power in Numbers.
  5. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. (2010). Sober Living Houses for Alcohol and Drug Dependence: 18-Month Outcomes. 
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