Perhaps you are considering addiction treatment for a substance use disorder and are wondering how long rehab lasts. Deciding to begin drug rehab is the first step in recovery. While it is only natural to have concerns about the amount of time it will take, starting addiction treatment is a move that changes lives for the better.
To answer the question 'how long is rehab?' it may be helpful to consider the various factors that influence its duration.
Wanting to get addiction or drug abuse treatment over with as quickly as possible can be a mistake. It may mean that a person misses a valuable and vital part of recovery.
While many people who seek treatment for drug or alcohol abuse want to get in and out of rehab as soon as possible, ensuring that good treatment is well-received is key to making the healing process worthwhile. Rushing through a short program when more treatment is needed, can be costly in the long run.
The effects of substance abuse vary from individual to individual but generally include physical, emotional, and mental harm. Drugs can cause serious physical health damage, such as the severe dental decay found with meth abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that addiction changes a person's brain functioning; affecting parts of the brain related to motivation and reward, memory, and learning.
Addiction often strains interpersonal relationships and family dynamics and can lead to job loss or even homelessness. It typically hurts a person's mental well-being, which left unaddressed could lead to relapse. This means that to recover and be fully equipped for maintaining sobriety after treatment, a person may require a lot of support to enable their personal growth. This is in addition to the physical process of getting rid of a substance from the body.
These are the reasons why addiction centers provide various therapies and family and group support as part of their programs after detoxification.
In 2015, among the estimated 19.3 million people in the United States who were classified as needing but not receiving substance use treatment, 18.4 million did not think that they needed treatment for their substance use. Many people look at the length of a rehab program and believe that they do not need treatment, or prefer to attempt quitting drug use on their own. Not only is this dangerous – as withdrawal from an addictive substance can involve severe health consequences – it also mostly results in relapse.
Even though many people have responsibilities outside of rehab that they feel unwilling to temporarily leave aside – and this prevents them from getting the help they need – it is important to take the proper time to address physical and mental well-being.
There is no 'right' answer for how long addicted individuals should stay in treatment, as many factors determine how much time is required. As with many other chronic illnesses, recovery from drug addiction is generally a long-term process and typically requires long-term support.
Rehabilitation covers more than overcoming a physical addiction. This is the relatively short part at the beginning of treatment, involving eliminating the addictive substance from the body. It has to be complemented with treatments that tackle the psychological aspects of addiction.
The length of time needed for both detox and addiction therapies may vary according to the severity of an addiction, the duration of drug use, the presence of more than one drug, a person's mental and physical health, as well as their personal support system. These factors are what determine treatment programs both in content and in the amount of time.
Depending on the program, treatment could include regularly scheduled counseling, and individual or group therapy. Therapy helps people to recognize the underlying causes and triggers for their drug use and any negative thinking patterns at the root of it. A program may also include family therapy, which helps family members become active in the recovery. It could also include medication management. In some cases, the treatment of co-occurring disorders may have to be addressed too. The kind of treatment that an individual needs will determine how long rehab lasts.
Addiction affects a person's brain and involves dependence on the substance or substances. A person may need time to withdraw from the substances, establish new behavioral patterns and understand the triggers that may lead them to use again. The level of care they need is based on how severe their addiction is.
Often the severity of the addiction is determined by the addictive properties of the drug, as well as each individual's length of using it.
For example, Ketamine withdrawal symptoms last for two weeks before subsiding, after which recovery of another week may be needed. It can take three weeks to pass through withdrawal from cannabis. Coming off heroin involves an initial two weeks of flu-like symptoms during a detox and gradual weaning off onto a less addictive substance. It may then take many more months to recover.
A person's overall mental and physical health also determines the length of treatment. A person in good physical health and with a healthy metabolism may be able to get rid of a substance and its toxins more rapidly, which may speed up withdrawal slightly. A person's physical health is also determined by the amount of damage a drug may have caused.
If a person is dealing with depression or anxiety, or any other co-occurring mental health issue, they may need treatment for a longer period.
The amount of time needed for a rehabilitation program can depend on the individual's health and the substances that they have been using. An additional consideration is that treatment programs differ in length depending on the treatment facility. The kind of rehab programs that a facility offers for substance use disorders determines how long rehab may take.
Drug addiction treatment often involves inpatient treatment. This is intensive and involves residing at a treatment facility. Outpatient treatment may involve fewer hours of therapy each week and involves a person residing outside of the facility.
Trained professionals determine the blueprint for a person's rehab program. The first part of recovery, which involves detox, could be part of inpatient rehab.
The detox process includes an evaluation of a person's physical and mental health, stabilization of their condition, and management of their withdrawal from a drug or drugs. This might involve medication. This initial phase generally averages around seven days, but some symptoms of withdrawal can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The detox process requires monitoring so that a person remains emotionally and medically stable. This is especially the case when treating addiction to drugs that could have life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, such as benzodiazepines or alcohol.
A treatment team at the addiction center then prepares the person for the next phase of the treatment to ensure long-term recovery.
Substance abuse treatment generally includes a 30-day rehab program. Most programs are at least 28 days in length. There are also 60-day and 90-day programs.
The recovery process does not end after three months of treatment. A person may need an aftercare or sober living arrangement after an addiction treatment program.
The transition back to life outside rehab comes with the potential for relapse. Aftercare help such as sober living homes or halfway houses, 12-step support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, and support for family and friends promote a continuance of sobriety. A treatment center can design an aftercare plan for long-term treatment beyond 120 days.
The advantage of longer-term treatment programs for substance abuse or substance use disorder is that a person is allowed more time to become acclimated to the treatment process.
The time means that they can take part in programs after detox to create and reach long-term goals of sobriety. They also have the time to understand their addiction and its triggers on a deeper level. Inpatient rehab also allows a person to live in a medically supervised and supportive environment away from exposure to possible places where they may have used drugs before.
With 24-hour support, inpatient rehab programs of 30,60, or 90 days will involve individual and group therapy sessions. They may also involve recreational or creative therapies, physical activities, or healing practices. Regardless of which treatment program a person chooses, the length of time spent in a treatment facility helps them to get through physical withdrawal and establish relapse prevention techniques.
A 30-day program can provide a person with structure and support as they detox, and is a great way to start treatment. Since many patients do not know how long they will need to stay in rehab programs, a 30-day program can provide insight into whether to continue or not.
For those with more severe addiction or co-occurring disorders, a 60-day inpatient rehab may be better than a one-month stay. A 60-day program gives a person ample time for an intensive detox, as well as to begin actively practicing the tools learned through therapies. By practicing positive and healthy habits, a person is more likely to maintain sobriety.
On a 90-day program, a person has the space to practice relapse prevention and prepare for independent living. A 90-day program may include more inpatient care and intensive treatment and may include step-down care. This is when treatment continues at a lower intensity or in an outpatient setting. It may also include follow-up treatment for maintaining long-term sobriety. A transition back into everyday life is made less abrupt by these longer treatment programs.
Among the 7.7 million U.S. adults with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders in 2017, only 9.1% received treatment for both. The barrier of not having time accounted for 10.6% of people who did not receive treatment.
Outpatient programs can last anytime from three months to one year, depending on the individual and the treatment center, but they come with the advantage of greater flexibility in treatment scheduling and routines. The outpatient route allows a person to continue work or education and integrate their treatment into daily life.
Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) are a bit more intense than standard outpatient care and could last four to six weeks. A person would typically meet three to five times weekly for individual and group therapy sessions.
Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs) and intensive outpatient programs also provide a good transition for someone who has completed an inpatient treatment program and needs to continue with slightly less intense treatment.
Many people choose to move through various levels and kinds of care instead of completing a single treatment program. They may begin with inpatient care and move to partial hospitalization. After stabilization, they may transition to less intense outpatient programs.
Others intend to stay for 30 days but realize that they need more time to understand and practice relapse prevention, or wish to continue with an aftercare program after 90 days.
All of these factors make the answer to 'how long is rehab?' more likely to be 'as long as a person needs'. The most important thing is seeking treatment and following a treatment plan that addresses all the mental, physical and emotional needs that a person has.
If you or a loved one is seeking an addiction treatment program, get in touch with Vita Recovery. We know that addiction and the recovery process are individual and personal, which is why we provide a variety of personalized addiction treatment programs.
Caring and compassionate staff with over 125 years of medical and clinical experience combined will design a treatment plan according to your needs, ensuring that you receive the best help and support possible.
Whether you choose our partial hospitalization program, our intensive outpatient program, or our intensive 3A program, Vita Recovery can help you overcome substance abuse, starting today.