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How Long Should I Expect to Be in Rehab?

Once you’ve decided to get help for your substance addiction and enter a rehab program, you may have some questions about rehab time and other features of the program. The length of time you’ll be in rehab varies depending on your individual patient needs and addiction, as well as the treatment setting. Generally, you can expect a rehab time of between 30 and 90 days, although you may stay longer if necessary.

How Long is Drug and Alcohol Rehab?

Everyone’s treatment length is different-some people may attend inpatient rehab for 30 days, while another person may attend outpatient treatment for several months. This is because people in recovery tend to progress through treatment at different rates. That said, the longer you stay in stay in drug addiction treatment, the more likely you are to have a positive treatment outcome and longer-lasting recovery.1

Your treatment duration and program will take many things into account when determining how long you will need to stay in a professional treatment facility; however, there are a few standards of substance abuse treatment time that you can expect.

30 Day Programs

This is the minimum amount of time you can expect to spend in an inpatient drug abuse program. During this 30-day residential treatment stay, you will have time to:

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  • Detox from all substances (if the facility offers medication-assisted treatment services)
  • Begin to learn coping skills to help you stay sober once you leave the program
  • Create an outpatient rehab aftercare program to start once you leave the center

Before you leave the 30-day rehab program, you will speak with your rehab team to determine if 30 days was an adequate time frame for you. If not, you can always extend your stay. The good news is, many insurance companies cover 30-day treatment services, so you’ll want to verify your insurance before choosing a treatment provider.

60 Day Programs

A 60-day stay at an addiction treatment program gives you more time to adjust to your new substance-free life and dig deeper during therapy and counseling. During 60-day stay rehab programs, you can expect to:

  • Experience the same things that occur in a 30-day stay
  • Determine what underlying issues contributed to your drug and/or alcohol abuse in the first place
  • Address those underlying issues to prevent relapse like behavioral health conditions, mental health conditions, and physical health
  • Build a health plan and practice using coping mechanisms, emotional regulation skills, and drug refusal skills

Much like with the 30-day rehab stay, you and your rehab centers treatment professionals will evaluate your progress before discharge; if you decide that you need more time in treatment, you can always extend your stay. The unfortunate thing about a 60-day stay in an addiction treatment center is that some insurances do not cover that length of time, so you might have to look into alternative methods to make payment arrangements.

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90 Day Programs

Though this long-term treatment option might seem intimidating for those entering a drug and alcohol rehab program, a 90-day stay often yields the most success.2 When you decide on a 90-day drug rehab treatment program, you will have more time to:

  • Go through acute detox as well as manage post-acute withdrawal symptoms
  • Replace negative behaviors with healthy, positive behaviors
  • Learn to identify and combat drug-using triggers, such as negative emotions
  • Learn life skills that may have been neglected while using substances
  • Evaluate and adjust your individualized treatment plan with the help of your treatment team, if necessary
  • Create a comprehensive outpatient addiction treatment aftercare plan, including ongoing support like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings

Again, a 90-day treatment program may not be covered or may only be partially covered by insurance, so it’s important to verify your insurance coverage before choosing between treatment centers.

Extended Care Options

After 90 days in rehab, if you are still not ready to leave, you can opt for an extended care option in the form of residential care or sober living homes. Residential care involves living at a facility in a less intensive environment than inpatient treatment. You will still receive monitoring and care but not around the clock like you would at an inpatient facility. The main benefit of choosing a long-term residential rehab is that you will receive the support you might be lacking back home-plus, you won’t be tempted by drug-using triggers like friends that still use or locations you used to use.

Sober living homes aren’t considered formal addiction treatment, but many people who complete a rehab program will transition into a sober living home. These halfway houses are great if you want to live in a substance-free space that can provide you with structure and support.

What Do You Do in Rehab?

While experiences in rehab vary greatly, we can give you an overview of what you can expect out of a typical day in a rehabilitation facility. Here is a sample inpatient rehab schedule:

  • Wake up at an early, regular time
  • Eat breakfast
  • Spend the morning in group counseling sessions. In these sessions, you can expect to learn:
    • To identify triggers for your addiction
    • Sober social skills and conflict resolution
    • About substance abuse and related behaviors and issues
    • Ways to live post-addiction
  • Lunch
  • Additional therapies, including:
    • Individual sessions where you will focus on your personalized treatment plan and progress
    • More group therapy where you will continue to build bonds with other residents
    • Family therapy where your family members are invited to help you through the addiction recovery process, and they will learn the roles they will play in that process

Getting Yourself or a Loved One into Treatment

If you or a loved one needs the benefit of a substance use disorder rehabilitation program to overcome addiction, we’ve outlined how to enroll in treatment. 

Rehabilitation for Yourself

The first step toward recovery from addiction is deciding to enter treatment. Once you’ve chosen to make a positive change in your life, you will want to follow these steps to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible:

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  • Write a list of treatment preferences and priorities, such as facility location, cost, amenities, features, rehab time, staff credentials, and more.
  • Research facilities to determine which will best meet your needs and will accept your insurance.
  • Talk with your friends and family to let them know about your decision.
  • Talk to your employer and sign up for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows you to take up to three months off your job without losing your position.
  • Check with the facility as to what you can and cannot bring with you to rehab.
  • Take care of any financial responsibilities or other “loose ends” that need to be addressed before you go. Keep in mind that you will be gone for at least 30 days, if not more. Often a trusted family member or friend will be more than willing to assist you with your personal business during this time.
  • Spend quality time with friends and family and spend some “me time” with yourself. This will help you to prepare mentally for your rehab stay.

Rehabilitation for a Friend or Loved One

Helping your loved one enter addiction treatment can be a bit more difficult than simply deciding you are ready to attend rehab on your own. Not everyone will be receptive to your help, so you’ll want to make sure you approach the situation with empathy and compassion. Unless the circumstances are unusual, your friend or family member won’t have to go to rehab if they don’t want to. It’s important not to pressure them or push them too hard, as this can cause them to become defensive and closed off. Here are some things you can do to help your loved one get the addiction treatment they need:

  • Arm yourself with information, such as:
    • What your loved one can expect from rehab
    • What types of treatment programs are available
    • How long rehab lasts
    • Which treatment programs accept your loved one’s insurance
    • Ways to finance treatment if they don’t have insurance
    • The role you will play in your loved one’s successful recovery
  • Express yourself and how their addiction has affected you without using blaming language that will further shame your loved one.
  • Set boundaries that let them know what you will and will not do for them in the future. It’s okay for you to say no to things you don’t want to do, such as lend them money or call in sick to work for them.
  • Seek care for yourself. Attend counseling or a support group for loved ones of addicted individuals, such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.
  • Stage an intervention with other friends and family or, if you feel it is warranted, an intervention specialist. Just be prepared that either route you take, you will more than likely be met with opposition from your loved one, and it may take more than one intervention for them to enter rehab.

Whether you are seeking treatment for yourself or a loved one, it’s important to remember that rehab is a huge and important step in the recovery journey and that it should be entered with an open heart and mind.

Substance Abuse Recovery Resources

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition), How long does drug addiction treatment usually last?
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition), Principles of Effective Treatment.
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