08 Jun Aftercare: What is Extended Care and How Can It Help with Recovery?
If you have a serious addiction, a 30, 60, or even 90-day residential treatment program may be enough to get you started on your road to recovery, but is it enough to keep you there and help you maintain your sobriety? The answer to this question for some, is no, it’s just not enough time. This is where extended care comes in. Extended care can help you receive any additional treatment, services, and support that you may need beyond graduation from a long-term treatment program.
What is Extended Care and How Does it Differ from Long-Term Treatment?
Extended care and long-term treatment are often confused with each other because the terms are similar. In reality, extended care and long-term treatment are two different phases of addiction treatment. The key difference is that extended care programs start once an individual completes a treatment program at a treatment facility and long-term treatment programs only end when the patient is ready. Another difference is extended care programs tend to have more freedom regarding what support elements are involved and less accountability, while long-term treatment is often the opposite.
Extended Care Treatment Options
Once an individual completes their traditional treatment program of 30, 60, or 90+ days, there are several options that they can consider for extended care, including the following:
Peer Support Group Program: These programs help to provide recovering addicts with support from other recovering addicts who are themselves facing similar challenges and situations. The ongoing support can help motivate you to keep working on your goals and prioritizing commitments in order to stay sober. The 12-step program is perhaps the most common peer support group, while there are also many other religious and non-religious programs to choose from.
Outpatient Treatment: This is a good option for those who complete their inpatient treatment program, but may be hesitant to be left without continued check-ups and therapy sessions. With outpatient treatment, patients can continue to aspects of treatment for their addiction and can leave the center that same day. Many outpatient treatment programs also allow for patients to attend work, school, or go home when needed.
There are many outpatient treatment programs that have a proven track record of success. For example, there are some that allow recovering addicts to continue medication-assisted treatments like naltrexone, suboxone, or methadone, while they also continue counseling and treatment in an outpatient environment.
Some patients with severe addictions may benefit from outpatient treatment after a residential treatment program, but it depends on the nature of the addiction. An outpatient program also may be beneficial if there is a co-occurring mental illness that would increase the chances of a relapse post-inpatient treatment. It is recommended that you seek the advice of your treatment provider and a medical professional to see whether outpatient treatment is the right option for you.
Sober Living or Halfway Houses: Sober living environments and halfway houses are another option for extended care. These facilities provide you with a unique opportunity to focus solely on your recovery without being surrounded by family, friends, previous triggers, or other factors that may potentially cause you to relapse. In sober living facilities, you are able to live with people who are experiencing similar challenges with addiction and who are also committed to recovery. This living arrangement allows you to support each other as you work to stay sober.
Generally, sober living homes and halfway houses are essentially group homes for addicts in recovery. Most are privately owned, but there are some that are operated by businesses, treatment centers, and charity organizations. These homes are typically located in a secluded and peaceful area to allow addicts to recover.
Sober living homes and halfway houses differ from rehab facilities because they generally have more freedom and you can come and go as you please as long you abide by the house rules. For example, some homes may have curfews and may even require you to take random drug or alcohol tests to prove sobriety. It’s important to note that sober living homes and halfway houses will require you to fulfill individual responsibilities such as paying rent and buying your own food.
Therapy or Counseling: Just because you are no longer taking the substance that resulted in your addiction does not necessarily mean you have reached long-term recovery. There are often underlying issues, situations, tragic events, and mental illnesses that need to be addressed or resolved in order to prevent relapse. This is where therapy or counseling comes in. Having access to this will allow you to participate in one-on-one or group sessions with a therapist, counselor, or other mental health professional who will provide the support you need to cope with the challenges you’re facing once you leave your inpatient treatment program.
Deciding on the Right Extended Treatment Program for You
There are several factors you should consider when deciding on an extended treatment or sober living program. These include, but are not limited to:
- The recommended length of continued treatment or counseling
- Whether you will need medication-assisted treatment and who can administer it to you
- The cost of the extended treatment or sober living facility
- The location of the extended treatment offerings or sober living facility
- The length of your stay (sober living)
- The type of treatment you that will be most helpful in maintaining your sobriety
- The amenities and living arrangements (sober living)
Each of these factors will largely determine the cost and length of your formalized care. It is also recommended that you consult with a medical professional to make sure you are receiving the right amount of services to successfully treat your addiction and maintain your recovery.
The Cost of Extended Care and Sober Living Programs
There are many different kinds of extended care and sober living programs that can fit all budgets.
Outpatient Treatment: The cost of an outpatient program largely depends on the frequency of visits, the type of care you require, as well as the price of any medications you will be receiving. For some medications, outpatient treatment can also get expensive quickly. For example, naltrexone costs around $1,100 per monthly injection. Some insurances will cover naltrexone. Additionally, there are more affordable addiction medication alternatives including suboxone and methadone.
Sober Living and Halfway Houses: Sober living and halfway houses are typically about the same cost as renting an apartment. The price per month varies depending on the amenities offered, the amount of people living in the house, and the cost of living in the area where the home is located.
Therapy or Counseling: According to GoodTherapy.org, some therapists may charge as much as $200 or more per session, but a majority will charge about $75-$150 per session. There are also many therapists and counselors that work on a sliding scale fee, which means the session fee will depend on your income level. To ensure the most accurate rates, contact the office of the treatment center, therapist, or counselor that you wish to visit.
Insurance and its Role in Covering the Cost of Extended Care and Sober Living Extended care and sober living may seem too expensive to afford for most, but the good news is that there are insurance plans that can help offset or even cover all of the cost for extended care outpatient treatment options. Under Obamacare, health plans in the marketplace have to include coverage for treatment options. Along with insurance, many treatment centers offer financing options through loans.
Evaluating the Overall Cost: It’s More Affordable Than the Alternatives
Tackling addiction with treatment programs, extended care, and sober living is much more affordable to society, individual persons, and families, than the alternatives.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), the average cost for one full year of methadone maintenance treatment is around $4,700 per patient. When you combine that with a 90-day treatment program, extended care outpatient counseling, and free support programs like 12-step, the total cost pales in comparison to the cost of of imprisonment for one person who has been incarcerated for drug possession or dealing, which costs approximately $24,000 annually.
What to Do Before Selecting an Extended Care Program
Before deciding on an extended program to help you on the road to recovery, it’s important to first consult your physician. They can help go over the options with you and determine the best method of treatment based on your situation. Additionally, it is recommended that you discuss care and living options with your family and inform them of your final game-plan so that they can help support you in your efforts to maintain your sobriety.
Jared Preusz, M.S., is a Web Content Manager who regularly contributes to The Addiction Advisor, a website that offers addiction resources and information to those with addictions and their loved ones. Jared has written several articles about addiction and recovery and is passionate about helping others. You can read more of his articles on The Addiction Advisor blog. This article represents the personal views, opinions and experiences of the author only and does not purport to offer medical advice.