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Why we stopped using the term ‘aftercare’

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Version 2 2021-12-21, 22:35
Version 1 2021-12-15, 01:55
journal contribution
posted on 2021-12-21, 22:32 authored by Sarah MacLeanSarah MacLean, Gabriel CaluzziGabriel Caluzzi, M Ferry, A Bruun, J Skattebol, J Neale, J Bryant
The words we choose to describe alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatments and interventions reveal assumptions about how we understand AOD use. Moreover, they have important implications for how the treatment is imagined, implemented and funded. Service provision which follows engagement in an intensive (usually residential) program is often called ‘aftercare’ in the international AOD field. In this commentary, we argue that the term ‘aftercare’ fails to articulate the nature of ongoing care required by people who are managing AOD use. We maintain that ‘aftercare’ positions post-residential care as being less important than other treatment modalities, rather than as integral to a continuum of care. It is a term that implies that care should be acute, like much treatment delivered through a medical model, and assumes that people follow linear pathways in managing their AOD use. Assumptions embedded in the term ‘aftercare’ such as these may disincline governments from funding ongoing services for people exiting intensive programs. Alternative terms including ‘continuing coordinated care’ more aptly signal the integrated and ongoing service provision that should be available to support people in sustaining changes initiated through other AOD interventions.


We are grateful for funding from the Australian Research Council (DP 200100492). The Centre for Alcohol Policy Research receives core funding from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education. The Centre for Social Research in Health is supported by the Commonwealth Government Department of Health.


Publication Date



Drug and Alcohol Review





Article Number



4p. (p.3-6)





Rights Statement

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: MacLean, S.J., Caluzzi, G., Ferry, M., Bruun, A., Skattebol, J., Neale, J. and Bryant, J. (2021), Why we stopped using the term ‘aftercare’. Drug Alcohol Rev., which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.

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