How Long Does Treatment Take?

One of the most important things to consider before going into treatment is just how long you want your stay in treatment to be. For some people, they’re free to choose a treatment length based on what’s best for them. For others, family responsibilities, employment, and health insurance will decide precisely how long they’re able to go into treatment. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t stop, and responsibilities don’t go away just because someone is going into a treatment center. Going into a long-term program may be preferable and necessary, but it’s possible that their work won’t let them take off that length of time, and they can’t afford to lose a job. These matters are stressful to think about, but thanks to the liberal number of treatment length options, you’ll find something that works for you and your life.

Treatment lengths might range from a week in a short-term detox to a year-long stay in a residential treatment center that focuses on rebuilding the lives of recovering addicts. While your length of stay may not always be what you’d like it to be, you can still make the most of your treatment time. It’s a tough call to make if you do have the power to choose your length of treatment. Use the following guidelines to help you decide how long you’d like your stay in treatment to be.


Treatment lengths are as short as a week in a hospital setting type detox. These are medical detoxes that exist for the sole purpose of helping you get through the tough first week of drug or alcohol cessation, and they don’t usually involve stays that are extended beyond that. While the stay here is short, they are often willing and able to help you find a long-term treatment program, so if you need to get sober and are committed to doing it right away, you can start here and then branch out into another facility when you’ve made it through the first week. These medical detoxes are ideal for getting you through the physical symptoms of withdrawal, but their services are limited for sober recovery.

30, 60, and 90-day programs are also very common rehab lengths. A month to a month and a half of treatment is ideal for many people who want to get a longer duration of treatment but who can’t afford to take time off work or family time to stay longer. Others with more severe addictions will want to explore very long-term treatment options, such as those offered by transitional housing (commonly known as halfway houses). These halfway houses offer stays that are a year or more long, and they allow you to maintain a life outside of the facility while still living within the walls and benefiting from the many counseling and social services that they offer.


The answer to the best length of treatment varies per person. For some people, a stay in medical detox will put them in touch with outpatient services that can take over from there. Some people have recovered with just that one week in medical detox, and then they’ve gone on to outpatient services and meetings that helped them stay sober. For most of these people, they’re in early addiction and aren’t yet suffering from a loss of financial and interpersonal relationship stability. They have a healthy support system, good outpatient counselors, and a lot of financial resources to rebuild.

For others, the addiction grew more severe, and they may have lost home, family, and sanity itself. The more severe the addiction is, the higher the likelihood that you’ll benefit in a program that offers a much longer stay. When you were using drugs and alcohol, your brain chemistry changes, and your way of living changed. You can’t undo years and years of substance abuse in only a week or even a few months. It’s going to take retraining your brain, giving your body and mind time to go back to normal, and it’s going to take a lot of support. For people in the late, dangerously close to fatal stages of addiction, they may not have a lot of support on the outside of a treatment center. For people like this, a long-term treatment program provides an instant source of support, both for friendship, professional counseling, and social support.


There are pros and cons to each rehab length, but the only wrong decision to make is to not go to treatment at all. Inpatient treatment isn’t something that anyone ever wants to go to, but life often throws things our way that we didn’t plan for. If you go into a program, you’ll find that it’s positively life-changing. 30, 60, and 90-day programs are ideal for people who simply can’t depend on insurance to pay for a longer stay and who can’t afford longer than that. Your budget will sometimes make your decision for you, or your insurance will.

The benefits of a halfway house are also evident. If you have a small support network that’s not all that supportive, have lost your employment or financial stability, or have used for a very long time and don’t even know how to begin living without drugs and alcohol, halfway houses are the best solution. You’ll be allowed to get a job and work at some point in your stay, be able to visit newfound friends as you go through the program and have a higher degree of freedom to live your life. 30, 60, and 90-day programs are typically refined to recovering addicts staying on the inside of the facility, and they don’t have nearly as much freedom.


No matter what length of treatment time you choose, choosing any length of treatment time is going to be better than choosing none at all. Many people enter 30-day programs expecting to go home afterward, and they find the programs so helpful that they decide to go into an even longer-term program. Drugs and alcohol cause so much damage in life and rehab is such a life-altering experience that it’s possible to choose a short stay at first and then a lengthier stay at a long-term facility.

Your decision is an important one, and it’s normal to be anxious about it. There is no wrong rehab length. You can extend a short stay or cut a longer stay short. The power to choose the time you’re in rehab is usually entirely up to you, barring insurance concerns. Spend as much time as you need deciding. Ask friends and family for their opinions. Take your everyday life into consideration and keep things realistic and in your best interests. If you do all these things, there are no wrong answers. The only thing that’s 100% for sure is that if you have a drug and alcohol problem, treatment is in your best interests and will improve your life. The length of your treatment is negotiable.

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