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How Long is Rehab? Understanding the Different Stages of Rehab

by | Published on Feb 26, 2020 | Rehab Programs

How long is rehab

Truthfully, there’s no way to figure out how long is rehab. After all, the length of rehab varies tremendously on a case-by-case basis. Usually, drug and alcohol rehab starts with a brief detox process, then therapy and supportive care, and aftercare treatment focusing on relapse prevention. 

Rehab is a very personal experience, and the length of rehab depends on factors such as the severity of the addiction, how quickly someone makes progress, and other factors. For those with severe drug or alcohol dependencies, as well as those with co-occurring mental illness, treatment may be longer. 

The truth is, success is never guaranteed, but some treatment is better than none. Even still, so many people don’t get the treatment they need. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 21.7 million people aged 12 or older needed addiction treatment in 2015, yet just 2.3 million went to rehab.

Average Length of Detox

Lenght of Detox

Overcoming a substance use disorder usually starts with detox. Because most substances cause withdrawal symptoms, a medical detox program will often make the initial days of rehab more comfortable and safe. 

On average, medical detox takes up to 10 days. However, it depends on the type of substance and the severity of the addiction:

  • Alcohol detox: 3 to 10 days
  • Heroin detox: 4 to 10 days
  • Methadone: 10 to 20 days
  • Benzodiazepines: 2 to 8 weeks

Sometimes, withdrawal symptoms can bring life-threatening consequences, which is why doing it under a medically supervised environment is recommended. Support from trained professionals helps clients manage withdrawal symptoms and ensures they don’t use while detoxing.

Partial Hospitalization Treatment

The next phase often involves residential hospital treatment. Because some people experience adverse side effects from withdrawal, they often require medical attention to stay stable and address any health conditions. On average, the hospital residential treatment phase lasts about 16 days.

Sometimes, those in recovery will need medications to ease their withdrawal symptoms and continue the detox process. In these cases, they’ll enter a medication-assisted program that ensures they’re following instructions and being responsible for their medication. 

Average Length of Drug Rehab

Long-term Treatment

The next phase is usually an inpatient rehab programs or intensive outpatient programs. The length of this phase can be anywhere from 30 days to a year, based on a case-by-case basis. The long-term treatment phase involves therapy and counseling, continued medication-assisted programs, and any recommended alternative therapies. 

On average the length of treatment is:

  • Short-term residential treatment: 27 days
  • Long-term residential treatment: 130 days
  • Intensive outpatient treatment: 88 days

However, it’s important to say these are averages. People with severe addiction problems might need long-term treatment that can be much longer than these averages. Generally, people addicted to drugs need more extended treatment programs than those struggling with alcohol addiction. The same applies to those struggling with co-occurring mental health disorders.

Average Length of Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient Treatment

Usually, after someone completes inpatient treatment, they move into an outpatient setting.  These types of programs offer more flexibility and allow them to have access to the support they need as they transition back into their normal lives. Outpatient programs are essential for relapse prevention, as many recovering addicts might struggle as they go back to their day-to-day life. 

On average, the length of outpatient treatment is:

  • Outpatient medication-assisted therapy programs: 207 days
  • Outpatient treatment: 130 days

Aftercare Programs

Addiction recovery is a lifelong journey and does not end after treatment. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimated that the relapse rate for drug addiction is between 40 and 60 percent. To prevent relapse, most treatment facilities recommend aftercare programs.

These programs can involve medication-assisted therapy, self-help programs, sober living, and regular support group meetings. The length of aftercare depends on many factors. Sometimes people may need these types of programs for a lifetime. 

The average stay at a halfway house is one year, but many residents stay for as long as four years and more. Research indicates that active participation in self-help meetings during and after rehab encourages more extended recovery periods.

Figuring Out How Long is Rehab

Even though a treatment professional can establish a blueprint of your rehab program, they can’t specify the length it will take you to go through each phase. Some treatment centers offer short rehabilitation programs with 28- or 30-days recovery programs. However, these might not be what you need. 

A NIDA-funded study found that among recovering addicts who stayed in residential treatment beyond 90 days, relapse rates steadily declined. However, those who left rehab before reaching 90 days had relapse rates comparable to clients in therapy for one to two days.

Other studies suggest a similar trend. The study found that 17 percent of clients used drugs in the year following a rehab stay of 90 days or longer. Conversely, 35 percent of people who stayed in rehab 90 days or fewer relapsed in the year after their stay.

Overall, long-term drug rehab programs offer continuous care and support. Addiction recovery is a challenging and complex matter that requires time to give people the opportunity the tools they need to sustain sobriety. 

Getting Help Today

At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we believe that each recovery case is unique and deserves a personalized treatment plan. Upon your arrival, our team of addiction specialists will create an individual treatment plan that meets your needs. But most importantly, we’ll be open to adjusting this plan as you progress through your recovery journey. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive treatment options. Recovery from addiction is possible, and our team is dedicated to supporting you every step of the way. 

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Digital Marketing Manager. She has a Bachelor’s in Journalism and experience in the digital media industry. Geraldine’s writing allows her to share valuable information about mental health, wellness, and drug addiction facts, hoping to shed light on the importance of therapy and ending the stigma.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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