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The importance of aftercare for addiction recovery

“There are now many, many organisations and institutions that can help people recover from alcohol and drug addiction”, says Billy Henderson, Head of Addiction Therapy at Priory Hospital Glasgow.

He goes on to say: “There are many organisations that can provide detoxification for addiction sufferers but the issue is really what happens AFTER detoxification. At times, this road can be very difficult and the recovering patients require all the help they can get.

“It is not uncommon nowadays for a patient to be detoxified many times; I personally know addicts or alcoholics that have been detoxed more than 50 times but on returning to their environment or community they are ill-equipped to deal with life and they end up ‘using’ or slipping back into alcoholism again.”

Detox is a very important part of the process with research showing that the more effective the detox, the more chance the individual has on achieving abstinence and maintaining it. However, detox is only the first step in the recovery process; the individuals must then learn how to keep the illness in the dormant phase. Priory specialises in empowering the individual to do this.

Some alcoholics and addicts suffer from dual diagnosis, with anxiety and depression being the most common co-morbid conditions associated with addiction. Alcohol and drug misuse can also affect individuals' self-esteem, self-worth and confidence.

Addiction affects every area of an individual's life, including relationships, financial, occupational, sexual, the list goes on. This is why detox is only the first step on the road to recovery. Learning how to recover is paramount, and the ability to draw on the resources of experienced therapists and others who have been down this road can make the world of difference. Not only are the therapists at Priory fully qualified in their chosen approach of therapy, many also have direct experiential knowledge of the disease. Through their own multiple years of recovery, they know how to live a new, worthwhile clean and sober life.

“The essence of recovery is change. The truth is, nothing changes if nothing changes”.

“At Priory Hospital Glasgow, we have our own in-house doctors and consultants to help care for an individual’s health and wellbeing 24 hours a day, but it is our therapy treatment that empowers the individual to take control of their own lives. This is augmented by ongoing care and support through our 52-week aftercare programme, whereby individuals are supported by therapists, family and their peer group from their time as an inpatient as well as other patients from all walks of life.

“Aftercare is vital – it not only connects an individual into a supporting community network, but it also provides a safe haven to return to, with people around them who are empathetic, non-judgemental and always there to listen and support. Being part of a group who foster these qualities is so important.”

After the initial year of free aftercare which is included in the original treatment plan, former patients can return to Priory's self-help meeting twice weekly for the rest of their lives.

Billy Henderson adds: “We know that if people enter into a residential Priory stay with intensive therapy, followed by aftercare groups to support them, they have a much better chance of staying abstinent and managing their own lives. Everybody needs and deserves support – aftercare is one of the most important ingredients in the mix.”

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