What Needs to Happen After Detox?

Substance abuse and dependence have grown in the United States and throughout the world. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), approximately 23.1 million Americans in 2008 have required assistance with substance abuse or dependence beginning at age 12 and older.  However, only approximately four million people received treatment for their substance abuse and dependence problems in 2008. The need for effective interventions for substance abuse treatment is essential.

Mental health facilities and other treatment facilities have utilized inpatient treatment for detoxification of individuals with substance abuse and dependence disorders. However, many individuals return to their usage of illicit and prescription drugs as well as alcohol. The current recidivism rate is high, with up to 80% of individuals relapsing (Jones, Lertch, Stitzer & Tuten, 2007).

Group therapy, on an inpatient and outpatient basis, is used as a crucial part in assisting individuals in recovery. In this manner, the group is instrumental, with the leader or facilitator, in engaging each other towards a direction of abstinence, moving beyond the addiction into relationships and underlying problems (Weegmann, 2006).

Once detoxification and group therapy is terminated, many individuals require ongoing support and direction in order to ameliorate their abstinence-free lifestyles initially created in group therapy settings. Aftercare treatment is an essential means to which individuals can continue on the road to recovery. It has been proven to have positive outcomes for substance abusers as a means to lengthen treatment interventions and reduce recidivism rates (Lash, 1998). However, only up to 40% actually enter into aftercare treatment. This can be due to a lack of services that provide for such individuals, or lack of effective referrals to them (Jones, Lertch, Stitzer & Tuten, 2007).

By Diana Allam, LMSW

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