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How Long Does Drug Addiction Treatment Usually Last?

For those who are living with an addiction, going to rehab may be an intimidating experience. The stigma surrounding addiction and rehab keeps a lot of people from reaching out for the help that they need.

Navigation: How Long Does Drug Addiction Treatment Usually Last?, The Recovery Process, Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment, Individual Progress and Needs, Aftercare and Ongoing Support, Rehab Is Your Best Chance

Drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is a chronic and relapsing medical condition. It is an incredibly complex condition that is characterized by the compulsive intake of a certain substance despite its harmful consequences. When someone is addicted to a drug, their brain chemistry changes, leading to an intense craving for the drug and a reduced ability to control its use.

Addiction can have significant physical, mental, social, occupational, and legal adverse consequences. While the term has become almost synonymous to substance abuse, addiction may also refer to behavioral disorders like gambling, sexual, or internet addictions. [1]

With this in mind, we will be focusing on drug addiction or substance use disorder.

Addiction can develop with various substances, including alcohol, opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine, and others. Factors contributing to addiction include genetics, environmental influences, social factors, and underlying mental health conditions.

Treatment for this condition typically involves a combination of therapy, counseling, support groups, and sometimes medication. It aims to help patients stop using drugs, manage cravings, and address underlying issues that are causing their addiction.

One common question regarding this process is how long it usually lasts. Here we will talk about drug addiction treatment duration and everything you need to know about the process.


How Long Does Drug Addiction Treatment Usually Last?

For those who are living with an addiction, going to rehab may be an intimidating experience. The stigma surrounding addiction and rehab keeps a lot of people from reaching out for the help that they need. They worry about what others will think, how much it will cost them, and how long it will take to recover. [2]

But because everyone has their own unique experiences with addiction, the duration of drug addiction treatment can vary significantly depending on several factors.

Factors that influence the duration of treatment include: the type of substance used, the severity of addiction, the patient’s individual needs, and the treatment program. Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all formula for addiction treatment.

Treatment length can range from a few months to several years or even longer for some individuals.

The general length of most treatment programs are: 30-day programs, 60-day programs, and 90-day programs. Some programs may be longer or shorter depending on the facility and the patient’s progress. [2]

When choosing a program, look for the one that can potentially give you the highest chance of long-term success. While lengthier treatments may be intimidating, they are also associated with the best results.

Short-term programs might last for a few weeks or months and could involve detoxification, counseling, and behavioral therapy. However, longer-term programs, such as residential or inpatient treatment, can span several months to a year or more, especially for those with severe addictions or co-occurring mental health issues.

After the initial treatment phase, ongoing care and support through outpatient programs, therapy sessions, support groups, or aftercare services can be essential for maintaining sobriety.

Ultimately, the duration of treatment is often personalized to the patient’s individual needs and progress. However, the goal of most rehab facilities is the same: providing their clients a sustainable recovery journey.


The Recovery Process

To help paint the picture of why rehab lasts as long as it does, let’s talk about what the recovery process actually entails.

The first step often involves recognizing the addiction and accepting the need for change. A lot of people struggle with this part of the process. Some people are in denial about their situation while others are unable to acknowledge their substance abuse. It’s not uncommon to encounter this problem because drugs can affect your decision-making and cognitive skills. In any case, this only prolongs the journey to recovery.

Keep in mind that developing an addiction is not a moral failure or a sign of weakness. In fact, seeking help is a sign of courage. Recovery is never out of reach. [3]

Once you have accepted that you need help, you can look for a rehab near you and find out what addiction treatment programs they are offering.

For many substances, the initial phase of recovery involves detox to rid the body of the substance. This can be medically supervised to manage withdrawal symptoms. During detox, the patient’s drug intake is gradually lowered while their cravings and withdrawal symptoms are managed by health care providers. This approach is designed to keep them safe during this uncomfortable stage of recovery.

In addition to detox, behavioral therapy and counseling (individual or group) are also important in the recovery process. They help patients understand their triggers, develop coping mechanisms, and address underlying issues that are contributing to their addiction. [3]

In some cases, medications might be prescribed to assist in managing withdrawal symptoms or to reduce cravings. This is called medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Remember that recovery from drug addiction is not a one-time event, but rather a continuous process of self-discovery, growth, and healing. It is a lifelong journey that involves addressing the physical, psychological, and social aspects of the disease. Even after you leave rehab, you will have to work on maintaining your sobriety using the various skills and coping mechanisms you learned during treatment.

Every individual’s journey through addiction recovery is unique. Tailoring the approach to suit specific needs and circumstances is crucial for success. Additionally, seeking professional help and guidance greatly enhances the chances of a successful recovery.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment

It’s not just the duration of treatment that you should think about but also the setting. This is one of the factors that can affect the duration of drug addiction treatment.

Inpatient treatment, also known as residential treatment, involves living at a treatment facility for the duration of the program. This type of treatment typically lasts between 30 to 90 days, with some programs offering longer stays for more severe cases.

In an inpatient rehab, patients can expect a fully immersive experience. Here they get round-the-clock medical support. This setup allows recovering individuals to focus on getting sober without the triggers and distractions of their usual environment. [4]

Inpatient treatment provides intensive care in a highly structured environment. It offers a structured daily routine including therapy, counseling, support groups, and activities aimed at recovery. Just take note that inpatient rehab is also associated with higher costs due to expenses like room, board, and round-the-clock care.

Overall, it is a focused treatment approach that is ideal for severe addiction cases, people with co-occurring disorders, or those needing a controlled environment to break the cycle of addiction.

Outpatient treatment, on the other hand, allows patients to live at home while attending therapy sessions and other treatment activities. This type of treatment can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the individual’s progress and needs.

Outpatient care allows patients to keep up with their usual responsibilities outside of rehab like work or school. Sessions typically range from a few hours to several days a week, offering counseling, therapy, and group support. [4]

This treatment is more flexible and affordable. However, it requires a higher level of self-discipline and self-control as patients face everyday triggers and temptations. It is ideal for those who have mild to moderate cases of addiction. It is also effective for those with a strong support system at home. In some cases, it is used as a step-down program after completing inpatient treatment.

Inpatient and outpatient treatment for drug addiction both offer valuable approaches but differ in their intensity, structure, and setting. One is not necessarily better than the other. It all depends on the patient’s specific needs.

Individual Progress and Needs

We’ve emphasized the need for individualized treatment because not everyone will respond to the same programs in similar ways. The best rehab programs offer personalized treatments based on the individual’s progress and needs. This will ultimately influence treatment duration.

Factors such as the type of substance used, the duration of use, underlying mental health issues, and personal circumstances all play a role. Tailoring treatment to address these specific aspects improves the chances of success.

Addiction often stems from various underlying issues like trauma, mental health disorders, or environmental factors. Personalized treatment delves into these root causes, providing therapy and support specific to the person’s needs.

Even the way we respond to certain treatment methods may vary. Personalization allows for the identification of the most effective strategies for each person, whether it’s behavioral therapies, medication-assisted treatment, or a combination approach.

Some people may require more time to address their addiction and underlying issues. Meanwhile, others may respond well to shorter treatment durations.

It even adds to the motivation and engagement of the person. When they feel that their treatment is personalized to their needs, they tend to be more invested in the journey. This helps build a stronger therapeutic alliance between the patient and their treatment providers.

Not only should treatment plans be tailored to each patient, they should also be adjusted as necessary throughout the recovery process.

There are many benefits to pursuing personalized treatment plans. They have a higher chance of promoting long-term recovery and they can even reduce relapse rates.

By addressing specific triggers, behaviors, and needs, recovering individuals are better equipped to handle challenges and maintain sobriety after leaving rehab. Healthcare providers can give them the tools they need to manage their triggers and stressors. They understand what the patient is going through and can provide specific advice based on their situation.

By recognizing and addressing the unique aspects of each person’s addiction, personalized treatment offers a more comprehensive and effective way to support patients in their journey toward recovery.

Aftercare and Ongoing Support

Recovery from drug addiction does not end after completing a treatment program. Aftercare and ongoing support are crucial for maintaining long-term sobriety. These may include attending support groups, therapy sessions, and other activities that promote a healthy and sober lifestyle.

The duration of aftercare and ongoing support can vary, but it is recommended to continue these practices for at least a year after completing a treatment program.

An aftercare plan includes various activities and interventions that are designed to help the person cope with triggers, stressors, and cravings that they may face when they complete treatment. [5]

Since addiction is a chronic condition, relapse is a common challenge during recovery. Aftercare programs offer continuous support.

Aftercare programs may include participating in your rehab center’s alumni program, staying in a sober living facility for a certain period, going to 12-step meetings, building a sober support system, and attending individual or group counseling sessions. [5]

An aftercare plan is developed during rehab. It is important because the risk of relapse is highest during the first few months after leaving treatment. After rehab, returning to daily life can be overwhelming. Aftercare programs assist patients in transitioning back to their regular routines while providing a safety net against relapse.

Support groups and ongoing therapy sessions create a community of people who understand and empathize with the challenges of addiction. This sense of belonging and shared experiences can be incredibly beneficial.

Maintaining long-term sobriety requires ongoing strategies and support systems. Aftercare provides the necessary tools, coping mechanisms, and resources to help individuals stay on track with their recovery journey.

Regular check-ins and ongoing support hold individuals accountable for their actions and choices, reinforcing their commitment to sobriety.

Ultimately, aftercare and ongoing support are essential because they provide the structure, resources, and community necessary for recovering individuals to build and maintain a fulfilling life in recovery.

In conclusion, the duration of drug addiction treatment can vary depending on individual needs and circumstances. However, most treatment programs last between 30 to 90 days and are followed by aftercare and ongoing support.

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction, seek professional help to create a personalized treatment plan that meets your specific needs. Remember, recovery is a lifelong journey, but with the right support and resources, long-term sobriety is possible.

Look for a rehab near you today to learn more about your addiction treatment options. The journey to recovery begins today.

Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.


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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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