How Long Does Drug and Alcohol Rehab Last?
If you are thinking about entering a rehabilitation facility, one of the biggest questions you probably have is: How long does rehab last?
The length of treatment varies based on:
- The nature of your addiction and your substance use history.
- Your insurance coverage.
- Your physical and mental health.
However, even with the differences found within inpatient and outpatient treatment settings, many substance abuse treatment centers use similar timeframes.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends at least 3 months of treatment to effectively reduce or stop your drug use. The best outcomes tend to occur when people stay in treatment longer. 4
Finding a program that feels comfortable to you and is well-suited for your needs can reduce the likelihood of relapse.
Detox is the first step in treating addiction. It provides your body with the opportunity to eliminate all traces of the drug.
Detox can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. The length of detox will be influenced by multiple factors, including:
- How long you abused the drug.
- How much of the drug you used.
- How often you abused the drug.
- Individual health.
The process of removing a drug from your body also varies in length depending on the drug abused. For example, if you are detoxing from alcohol, detox may take 5–7 days. Heroin detox may take up to 10 days. 2
Detox alone is seldom a sufficient means of promoting addiction recovery. Detoxification programs are not designed to deliver comprehensive treatment. Because of this, most detox centers will refer you to the appropriate level of care after you have safely finished withdrawal.
Inpatient or Residential
Residential programs are designed for people who do not have a stable living environment or who need a high level of support.
Inpatient or residential treatment programs vary in length. But the most common timeframes are 30-, 60-, or 90-day programs. However, many programs are longer, and some can last up to 6 months or even a year.
Inpatient facilities may offer a combination of detox and rehabilitation services set in a hospital or clinic. Residential treatment is offered in facilities that feel more like homes, with common program lengths of one month to a year or more. Residential programs are designed for people who do not have a stable living environment or who need a high level of support. 3
Inpatient/residential settings also include:
- Executive inpatient treatment: These facilities provide an extra layer of privacy and comfort so that executives or CEOs are able to work and interact with clients while they are in treatment.
- Luxury treatment: These facilities offer treatment in desirable locations such as near the beach. They also provide nice facilities and amenities such as private rooms, chef-prepared meals, yoga, and exercise classes to make your stay as comfortable as possible.
Outpatient programs offer a site for recovery, but you live at your home throughout treatment. Rehabilitation on an outpatient basis can last from a few months to 1 year. Each facility will vary in their requirements – some meet daily and others only meet a few times a week. 3
Outpatient rehab can be found in a number of settings, including clinics, hospitals, and health departments. Because people in these programs are usually going to school or work, program hours are generally flexible – with services in the evenings and on the weekends to help accommodate schedules.
What’s Right for You?
When considering how long to stay in rehab, take into account:
- How severe your addiction is.
- Whether this is your first time in treatment.
- How much time in a facility you can afford.
- What your insurance will cover.
- Whether you have co-occurring issues that you need to seek care for.
- How much time you can spend away from family, work, or school.
In a survey, people responded with what they wished they had known about treatment before going. Below is a list of things they would have taken into greater consideration before making a treatment decision. 1
- The program’s financial policies (including cost, insurance accepted, financial support, payment options)
- The facility’s amenities, such as food and recreational activities
- Policies on visiting, Internet, and phone use
Whether you decide on inpatient or outpatient care, be sure to ask whether the program operates aftercare services of its own, or what types of aftercare planning take place prior to discharge. Aftercare, or care you receive after you complete a rehab program, can help you prevent relapse and stay alcohol or drug free. Different forms of aftercare exist, and you can choose whichever one feels like the best fit for you.
- 12-step meetings: Support groups provide community support, positive social interactions, and understanding. A number of twelve-step group options accommodate recovery from a variety of drugs, such as Cocaine Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous.
- Individual therapy: This type of therapy allows you to meet one-on-one with a therapist to work through issues underlying your addiction.
- Group therapy: In a group setting, you can learn and support from peers who are similarly recovering from an addiction.
. Recovery Brands. (2016).
. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. (2010). Protracted Withdrawal.
. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. What Is Substance Abuse Treatment? A Booklet for Families. DHHS Publication No. (SMA) 08-4126. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2004, reprinted 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.
. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).