Most people attending some kind of substance abuse program ask the same question: how long will rehab last? The typical answer is that rehab will last as long as it takes for the patient to get clean and maintain sobriety. However, the total length is dependent on a number of other factors. Ultimately, it differs from person to person since the circumstances surrounding an individual’s addiction are intimately connected to their physiology and personal history. For this reason, the duration of treatment can vary from a few months of therapy, detox, and additional care to a prolonged process that could take years to complete.
Different mental factors play a significant role in the length of treatment. Things like the severity of the addiction, the substance involved, and whether or not the subject is battling mental illness all play a huge part in the overall duration of the treatment. For example, someone who is mentally ill and severely addicted to alcohol will likely have a lengthier treatment plan. Fortunately, most treatment centers have personalized plans that address an individual’s specific needs.
The Three Stages of Rehab
Substance abuse is a tough issue to tackle. Doing so requires a lot of effort on the part of the patient as well as those treating them. This is why rehab has three phases: detox, treatment, and aftercare. Here are brief explanations of each.
Stage One: Detox
Medical detox usually lasts anywhere from 7 to 10 days, though severe cases may require longer stays. In this phase, doctors will usually administer medications that help minimize withdrawal symptoms and ultimately expedite the detox process.
All successful drug and alcohol addiction treatments must start with detox. This phase is particularly tough because the patient is going through withdrawal as the result of the alcohol leaving their body. This opens the door to symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, headaches, vomiting, nausea, hallucinations, and even seizures. This is why one should only undergo detox under the supervision of medical professionals.
Step Two: Treatment
Following a successful detoxification process, the patient is ready to enter treatment. The overall length of this phase can last anywhere from 30 days to a year. As previously mentioned, some substances require longer stays than others and the length of treatment varies from individual to individual. For example, someone battling opioid addiction will likely spend a longer time in treatment as opposed to someone struggling with marijuana addiction.
Treatment typically begins with therapy and counseling. Here, the focus rests on reinforcing positive behaviors rather than negative ones. Therapy transpires in both individual and group settings, providing ample room for self-discovery. Sometimes therapists may prescribe medication, but only under specific circumstances. Regardless, the patient graduates the program once they demonstrate significant signs of improvement.
Step Three: Aftercare
Unfortunately, treatment is usually not as simple as showing up and beating addiction outright. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse puts the average relapse rate for drug addiction at approximately 50 percent. With this number in mind, it is apparent that successfully managing cravings requires a lot of willpower and resilience. This is why aftercare is the final stage of drug and alcohol addiction treatment. Cravings can hit at any time, which is why having a dedicated support group outside of the context of therapy is so important.
Most doctors will recommend aftercare specifically to prevent a relapse. They may also prescribe medication, a self-help program, or recommend a stay in a sober living facility. Much like treatment, the length of the aftercare process is wholly dependent on the severity of the addiction. Some people may need to stay in recovery for the rest of their lives. Further, several recent studies show that individuals who participate in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, after completing rehab sustain longer recovery periods than those who do not.
It is worth repeating that sobriety comes easier for certain individuals than others. Some people require little to no aftercare while others have to be vigilant for the rest of their lives.
Estimating The Length Of Drug And Alcohol Addiction Treatment
When an individual first enters rehab, the specialists at their facility diagnose the problem and prepare a treatment plan that will serve as a roadmap to recovery. From there, the staff will have a better idea of the patient’s needs and can act in their best interests. The minimum time requirement differs from facility to facility, with some offering recovery programs that last as little as 30 days. However, rather than focusing on the length, the patient should be focused on learning how to manage their cravings and maintain sobriety, which is precisely where long-term treatment comes in.
A huge number of patients follow a similar trajectory: they drop out of rehab, relapse, and reenter rehab. Widespread problems such as this are precisely why predetermined treatment lengths can be problematic, if not downright ineffective. In fact, research indicates that the most successful recoveries occur after 90 days in rehab. This gives the patient enough time to gain insight into their addiction and change fundamental behaviors in order to remain abstinent.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and are ready to enter treatment, consider enrolling in an intensive outpatient program (IOP). Restore Health and Wellness Center offers all-inclusive addiction treatment programs that utilize proven methods to help individuals maintain an addiction-free lifestyle. Call today to speak with an addiction specialist and start on the road to recovery.