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The largest single influencer of long term success after rehab is the degree of participation in the therapies of aftercare. Traditional aftercare (continuing care as it's also sometimes called) includes a regular participation in AA style 12 steps group meetings, in group therapy sessions (either in the community or in the rehab) and in continuing sessions with a therapist or psychologist.

For some recovering addicts, especially those suffering from a concurrent mental disorder, those lacking in sober family support, or those without a safe and sober place to live, a period of sober living housing makes a lot of sense; and recovering addicts residing in a sober living home (halfway home) can transition more gently from the complete sanctuary of drug or alcohol rehab into the full temptations of the outside world.

Another, and often overlooked, option is to actually remain a resident of the rehab as a nominally paid therapeutic assistant.

Resident graduates

Some rehab graduates choose to continue residing within a residential drug or alcohol rehab after the culmination of a period of active therapies; they do so for a number of reasons, and benefit heavily from a continuation of offered therapies.

These rehab graduate residents may continue to live rent free, get free board, and also gain continuing access to the therapies and sober environment of the drug rehab, although after graduation they are obviously free to come and go as they please.

In return, these graduate residents stay to make a contribution to the experiences of newly admitted patients. Through mentoring and through offering the voice of sober experience, the contributions of these rehab graduates more than offsets the costs of their continuing stay, and also fulfills an essential component of continuing sobriety, which is to give freely to those not yet sober, and still struggling with recovery.

Nothing resonates better with newly recovering addicts and alcoholics than the authority of an another addict speaking of their story of recovery; and through an example of sober living as demonstrated on a daily basis, these graduate employees give inspiration and guidance to those new to the program and new to sobriety.

As continuing residency programs work to the benefit of all, most comprehensive drug and alcohol rehabs will employ several of these nominally paid graduates.

The risks of poor quality rehabs

A quality rehab may employ several of these still recovering graduates as sober assistants and general guides to living without intoxication, and their contribution is invaluable; and these resident graduates benefit equally from a safe and sober environment of residency that also allows for them to contribute meaningfully to the community.

But these recovering addicts are not trained professionals, and although they do speak with the voice of experience, and although they do offer inspiration and worthy guidance; they are not a substitute for trained and licensed professionals and they should not be expected to replace professional guidance.

Never as a substitute for professionals

The problem is that some lesser quality rehabs will employ these low paid continuing residents instead of the far more expensive employment of licensed, experienced and qualified therapists and other addictions professionals.

Although through the experiences of addiction and then recovery these addict do gain authority and insight, they are not trained in the methods of therapy, and they should not be offered as a substitute for genuine and committed professionals.

So while some therapeutic and experienced assistance from graduates in residency offers enormous benefit, rehabs that substitute resident advisors for professionals are surely not acting in the best interests of the newly sober addict, and far more likely acting out of a concern for their own bottom line.

Resident graduates can offer a lot, but they are not a replacement for professional and other medical advice and therapy. When evaluating the relative merits of rehabs under consideration, you may want to inquire about their programs of residency after graduation, but also inquire as to who exactly will be leading group and peer support sessions, who gives the individual therapy and what types of actual professionals are employed within the facility.

Trying to select the best rehab for your needs can so easily overwhelm, and doubly so as it comes at a time in life when you need to act quickly, and also may not be in the ideal frame of mind for considered and rational comparisons and research.

You do want a drug or alcohol rehab facility that employs such residents as advisors, and you may well want to consider whether residency after rehab offers any benefit in your situation, but you also need to ensure that you are not considering a substandard rehab, and an effective way to identify these money making operations is by determining how many professionals are employed therapeutically.

Rehab graduates can help a lot, but they are not a substitute for professionals.

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Page last updated Aug 05, 2010

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