Aftercare Fights Stigmatization and Relapse

Aftercare Fights Stigmatization and Relapse

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health released the results of a new study examining Americans’ attitude toward those suffering from substance use disorders opposed to those suffering from mental illness. Americans have a harsher, unsympathetic view of people who suffer from addiction and are less willing to support positive public policies to deal with SUD.

Published in the October issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Services, the study suggest that Americans view SUD as a weakness of character and a personal failing rather than a treatable medical condition like diabetes or heart disease. 64 percent of those responding believe employers should be able to deny employment to people with a drug addiction compared to 25 percent who believe employers have a right to deny employment to those suffering from mental illness. How do we as an industry respond to the misunderstandings and bias held by so many Americans? And what role does aftercare programs play in combating stigmatization?

Addiction Recovery and Management

The authors of another study sited in Addiction Recovery Management found that the acute care model, along with the commercialization of addiction treatment have moved addiction treatment into the brief, and discrete care models. The researchers believe a sustained recovery management model would produce far more positive results that would include post-treatment monitoring and support. (Addiction Recovery Management, 2011, pp 67-87)

A new report from the University of Pretoria found “there was a lack of manual or guidelines on how aftercare and reintegration service should be rendered…” Furthermore, clinicians were relatively uninformed adding to “the lack of support, boredom and experience of stigma” felt by those leaving treatment. (2014, Maluleke, T.F. University of Pretoria).

Aftercare Programs Can Combat Stigmatization and Solidify Recovery

The mounting pressure of SUD on American society impacts families, communities and the economy. The cost of addiction is prohibitive. Nor can the treatment industry continue to profit without making substantial improvements to access quality treatment and implement aftercare programs that are founded upon scientific data. Facing stigmatization, increased levels of stress upon re-entering society, cravings, boredom, and lack of support add to the propensity of newly recovered addicts to relapse.

As we have discussed in previous blogs, aftercare programs need to be:

  • Comprehensive
  • Accessible anytime
  • Foster the habit of connecting
  • Make recovery a focal point of living on a daily basis

Recovery Passport’s use of technology expands the capacity of aftercare programs:

  • Connects clients with clinicians
  • Creates an environment for new recovery friendships
  • Builds healthy support networks regardless of where clients live and work
  • Provides a safe place to share about shame, cravings, and stigma

Helping clients secure their recovery has never been as potent as now with the use of this technology. Providers can see in real time how clients respond, what additional issues confront the newly recovering clients, what patterns exist, and how to intervene to stop relapses or shorten the duration of a relapse.

Technology offers treatment providers tools unimaginable in the recent past. The evidence for changing the approach to treatment and aftercare is everywhere. Isn’t time your facility made use of technology to benefit the clients’ recovery and positively change the outcomes?


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