When an individual receives the initial diagnosis of cancer, they continue seeing their doctor for visits even after treatment has been completed. The chronic disease of alcohol addiction should be treated in a similar fashion. The disease of alcoholism encompasses all the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse. It also includes a physical dependence on alcohol. Over time the body and the brain adjust to the steady intake of alcohol, so it is not uncommon for those with an addiction to need alcohol to function on a daily basis.
To overcome an addiction, the choice to enter treatment is only the beginning. The real work starts after completing treatment. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 90 percent relapse within four years of completing treatment.
The completion of addiction treatment is a major accomplishment. After treatment adjusting back into mainstream society can be difficult. Aftercare is designed to bridge this transition. Typically aftercare programs include meetings, counseling, mentoring and some sort of sobriety testing. Sobriety can be difficult to sustain when old friends, places or situations that can cause stress. Aftercare provides resources to help individuals implement the copping tactics they learned while in treatment.