An addiction treatment center performs a very important function: It saves lives. You are in the treatment business to do that. You give people a second chance, not just as surviving, but thriving. You help people who are desperate, sick and frightened to become responsible, productive members of society with bright futures.
Whether your program is a short-term, thirty day facility, or a longer term facility, your job doesn’t end when they complete the program.
Research shows that people who participate in aftercare programs upon completing treatment have higher success rates than those who don’t. When you look at those who have completed your program one year later, you will see that many of them don’t “make it.” Some will be incarcerated or admitted into other programs. Your success rate is measured in long-term results, not just program completion.
For this reason, offering an aftercare or alumni program is important.
What Is An Alumni Program?
When a client completes your initial rehab program, they should become eligible for aftercare services. These services are specifically for those who have completed the program. They are now alumni, and will receive ongoing benefits.
Alumni programs offer some of the following:
- Weekly or monthly groups
- Social events at and outside the facility
- Access to counseling services
- Referrals to other programs and resources
- Help with job training or affordable housing
Often, alumni programs are primarily social in nature. The goal is to provide program graduates with opportunities to stay connected to their recovery. This can help them maintain their sobriety.
Coordinating An Alumni Program
Alumni programs are voluntary and offered to those who want and need it. Not all program graduates will take advantage of this resource, but it should be available and offered to all who qualify. A good program offers consistent support and encourages program graduates to stay connected to fellow graduates. Organizing groups, activities and other events can and should be a group effort, but you’ll need to make at least one staff member responsible for its implementation. This may be a position in itself, or not.
Another benefit of alumni programs is seen when former graduates share their experience, strength and hope with current clients. One thing that is seen in addiction treatment is that when clients see the success of those who have come before them, they are more likely to have hope for their own success. Alumni programs also give former clients the opportunity to “give back” to those who are in the process of treatment. Graduates at your program may come back to speak at in-house meetings, may sponsor clients and help provide a social network of support for those just coming out of treatment. It’s a win-win situation that should be encouraged. Anything you can do to help facilitate these positive exchanges is a good investment.
Coordinating An Alumni Program
This isn’t a small undertaking, and for it to be successful, it must be done diligently and consistently. First you will have to develop a plan. What services will you offer? How often? What is the level of involvement that you are willing to have?
Keeping in touch with alumni may prove challenging. But keeping in contact with former graduates of your program is a good way to gauge program success. Again, it’s about creating a system that helps make your job easier.
Once you have determined what your alumni aftercare program will cover, you’ll need to decide whether it warrants a dedicated staff position, or whether it is a responsibility that can be shared. Things like contacting alumni, running groups and organizing activities can be time-consuming, so choose your strategy carefully.
Don’t Have The Time To Create A Program?
If you are just starting your treatment center, you have a full plate. Getting outside consulting help can lighten the load and ensure that you are able to create quality programs that meet the needs of your clients. We can sit down with you and help you plan Alumni Program Coordination for your treatment center.
Remember, the success of your treatment facility largely depends on the success of your clients. Anything that you can do to help them, helps you and your program reputation.