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How Long Does Rehab Take?

Addiction is a complex disease of the brain, marked by changes in brain structure and function that affect your thought and behavior patterns. Getting help for a drug or alcohol addiction is almost always essential for ending an addiction for the long-term. But how long does rehab take? The answer to this question isn’t simple. It depends on the length and severity of your addiction, how motivated you are to recover, and the underlying causes of your addiction.

4 Minute Read | Published Jan 24 2024 | Updated Jan 24 2024

How long does rehab take? We’ve got the answers.

What Happens in Drug Rehab?

If you’re thinking about getting help for your addiction, you’re probably wondering what happens in drug rehab. A high quality treatment program uses a variety of therapies to help you overcome your addiction for good. Both traditional therapies and complementary therapies are utilized to help you look at problems and issues from a variety of angles. Through therapy, you will:

  • Identify harmful thought and behavior patterns and learn how to think and behave in healthier way.
  • Address the underlying causes of your addiction, which may include chronic stress, a history of trauma, mental illness, or other issues.
  • Develop essential skills to help you cope with triggers like cravings, stress, and family dysfunction.
  • Learn to relax and have fun without drugs or alcohol.
  • Find purpose and meaning in a life of sobriety.
  • Repair damaged relationships and develop the skills you need to nurture healthy relationships.

Traditional therapies are those that are shown through research to be effective for treating addiction. The most commonly used traditional therapies in treatment include cognitive-behavioral therapy, family therapy, and motivational interviewing, which helps you identify your own intrinsic motivations for wanting to recover.

Complementary therapies are those that are shown through research to be effective for treating addiction when used along with traditional therapies. Complementary therapies include art therapy, acupuncture and massage, yoga and meditation, and nutritional therapy.

Is There Medication During Rehab?

A high quality program will be able to answer “yes” to the question, is there medication during rehab? Medications are used in rehab to:

  • Help reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms during detox.
  • Address symptoms of mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.
  • Reduce the intensity of cravings.
  • Help individuals with an opioid addiction stave off withdrawal and cravings for the short-term or long-term.
  • Get medical conditions under control.

Addressing these issues with medication can help reduce the risk of relapse.

How Long Does Rehab Take?

The question of how long does rehab take doesn’t have easy answers. In general, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, rehab that lasts less than 90 days is largely ineffective. That’s because addiction is highly complex, and recovering from it requires you to learn new ways of thinking, make healthy lifestyle changes, delve into the underlying issues of the addiction, and practice new skills and strategies for coping with the curveballs life brings without turning to drugs or alcohol to get you through them.

People with a mild addiction who are highly motivated to recover and who are in good physical and mental health may not require 90 days to develop the skills they need for long-term recovery. But staying in treatment for a full three months dramatically improves the chances of success.

Those who are highly addicted, have a long history of addiction, have a co-occurring mental illness, or have little motivation to recover may require more than 90 days of treatment for successful recovery.

A high quality treatment program will evaluate your needs and issues and help you determine the ideal length of time for rehab.

Staying in rehab for the recommended time is central to long-term recovery. Once you’ve completed treatment, the risk of relapse is about the same as the risk of relapse for other chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease–around 40 to 60 percent. But a relapse doesn’t mean treatment didn’t work. Rather, it’s an opportunity to identify what went wrong and develop the skills you need to prevent it from going wrong again.

The bottom line is that adequate time treatment dramatically reduces your risk of relapse. If you’re still wondering, how long does rehab take, plan on at least 90 days. Full engagement in your treatment plan will ensure the best possible outcome of treatment while considerably reducing your risk of relapse.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at (800) 429-7690.



bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2020).
"Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)."
Retrieved on December 04, 2017
bullet Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2020).
"Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator."
Retrieved on December 04, 2017
bullet American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). (2021).
"The ASAM Criteria: Treatment Criteria for Addictive, Substance-Related, and Co-Occurring Conditions."
Retrieved on December 04, 2017
bullet Mayo Clinic. (2021).
"Drug Addiction: Treatments and Drugs."
Retrieved on December 04, 2017
bullet National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). (n.d.).
"Navigating a Mental Health Crisis: A NAMI Resource Guide for Those Experiencing a Mental Health Emergency."
Retrieved on December 04, 2017
bullet American Addiction Centers. (2021).
"The Length of Addiction Treatment."
Retrieved on December 04, 2017
bullet Recovery Research Institute. (2021).
"The Role of Time in Addiction Recovery."
Retrieved on December 04, 2017

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