How long does rehab take?

When patients enter into rehab, usually one of the questions at the front of their mind is: how long is rehab going to take?

We all have lives and obligations that we will eventually need to return to and take care of, once we are finished with rehab and released back into our daily lives.

You might also be concerned with the financial burden tied to your addiction treatment — every day that you spend in the center is one more day for which you or your insurance provider will be billed.

However, by no means should the process of addiction treatment be hurried, rushed, or any of the crucial steps skipped. In order to be effectively treated and recover, it is absolutely crucial that you remain throughout the entirety of the program.

For example, it is widely known that of patients who only enter a treatment center in order to undergo detoxification, and then leave without following up on further treatment, are far more likely to relapse back into addiction than those patients who stayed and completed the entire program.

With these considerations aside, however, there are some timeframes which one can considerably expect to spend in rehab — though this timeframe is affected by the individual needs of the patient, and could be more or less depending on the program or the severity of the addiction.

Rough answer: 30 days

Most patients can sign up for a residential addiction treatment program beginning with the 30-day recovery option. From there, the patient can often adjust the length of time based on the progress (or lack thereof) that they are making in the program, depending on how they personally grow and what happens as time continues to unfold. For a lot of patients, 30 days might only be the beginning step on the road to recovery.

Why is 30 days the standard?

Thirty days in an addiction treatment program is the usual standard length of time. It gives enough time for the patient to undergo the cleansing stage of detoxification and recover from all of the symptoms of withdrawal. Once that first stage has been completed, there is enough time allotted for the rest of the recovery process:

  • Establishing a system by which the patient will prevent and avoid relapse
  • A period to take care of any co-occurring diseases or disorders
  • Planning a course of aftercare once the patient leaves rehab
  • Settling and taking care of issues with the family
  • Taking the time to address other underlying problems, such as medical issues, learning disabilities, mental disorders, and any other daily impediment that could affect whether the patient stays sober after rehab

When 30 days isn’t enough

Sometimes 30 days is not a long enough timeframe for a patient to receive the full effects of treatment from rehab and will choose to stay in the addiction treatment center for longer. Everyone has different needs. Therefore, the length of time spent in rehab will be different for every patient, depending on the severity of their addiction and the underlying issues behind their addiction that must be addressed before going back out into society.

Many patients will be able to make it through the detoxification stage on schedule, but some will need much more time in recovery and therapy sessions. All patients are going to make different amounts of progress on their various psychological and emotional needs. Some of these needs are more dire and severe than in other patients, and require more time and attention.

There could be deeply-rooted abuse and trauma that led someone to resort to drugs and substances for comfort — curing an addiction, in these cases, is not just about addressing the chemical disease in the brain or the behavioral patterns, but the perceptions and emotions that drive that particular person.


90-day program, or more

It is common for addiction treatment programs to have schedules that last around 90 days. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) both recommend that people enroll in 90-day addiction treatment program in order to have the best chances for recovery. The CDC actually states that one of the leading predictors of whether an addiction treatment program will be successful is the length of time of its program.

Drug addiction affects how your brain works down to the chemical level — affecting feelings of motivation and reward, parts involved in memory and learning, as well as those parts that control our behavior. Because there are so many parts of the brain that need to be tended and treated in rehab, it is recommended that you spend as much time as possible in a recovery program as needed to recover fully.

Many programs last 90 days, but there are other programs that last even longer — up to 18 months in many cases, sometimes longer. Some people have such severe addictions that spending more than one year in rehab is not unreasonable at all.

Options for transition

There are patients who are in a transitional phase of their recovery — they do not feel that they need the attentive, comprehensive care of rehab, but they are also not ready to go back to their daily lives. For these patients, there are other options:

  • Sober living home: These are residential centers that no longer set therapeutic sessions or a schedule for the patient, and the patient is expected to acquire a job and proceed with a normal life, but they do not allow for alcohol or other substances on the premises, nor do they allow for family members to come with drugs or be under the influence.
  • Intensive outpatient treatment: in the day, patients attend intense therapeutic sessions that address their unique needs for recovery; at night, they return to sober living homes or to their own This provides a more gradual, stepping-down mode of recovery for patients transitioning back into daily life.
  • Outpatient treatment services: there are options available for patients to attend several, less-intense treatments throughout the week as they focus their remaining efforts on starting their lives back up again.