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How Long Do You Stay In Drug Rehab?

The first step in the process of addiction treatment is that the addict has to recognize the problem and decide to attend a rehabilitation program. Once the decision is made, the addict may naturally be apprehensive about what is in store for him at the rehabilitation center, how long he/she will have to stay and how it is going to impact his/her life. Fortunately, it is now possible to find answers to these questions and this article specifically aims to clarify the question "How long do you stay in a drug rehab?"

Short-Term Rehabilitation

Actually, it is not possible to specify a set time period that is generally applicable to all addicts. This is because some addicts may need only 30 days of stay in a rehabilitation center to find their true path to recovery, whereas some others may need to stay for up to 90 days to determine their recovery path. This is to say that it depends entirely on the substance addicted to, an individual's addiction history, the duration of addiction, dual diagnosis conditions and the addict's physical, emotional, spiritual and mental makeup as well as needs.

However, short term programs that last for 30, 60 or 90 days are offered by rehabilitation centers. The patients are discharged, but are generally referred to a drug rehab as an outpatient or to a sober living environment in order to continue monitoring the progress in recovery. For many addicts, the insurance coverage is a key factor that decides the time they spend in the rehabilitation center. Typically, a drug addict has to be supported for a period of 3 to 6 months in a structured fashion in an environment that is free of drug to ensure the recovery is successful.

Studies on the subject of relationship between length of stay and sobriety indicate that addicts who spend longer periods of time in a rehabilitation center are capable of remaining sober for longer periods of time. The achievement of better sobriety rates are attributable to the fact that a longer stay in the rehabilitation center provides more opportunities for the specialists attending to the addict to determine the root cause behind the addiction. If the root cause of the addiction is identified clearly, it becomes easier to address the problem effectively and the addict can be better equipped to resist temptation and a relapse.

Long-Term Rehabilitation

Long term drug rehabilitation programs can last for a period of nine months to one year. These programs are generally recommended for addicts who have been jailed on drug charges, are facing the prospect of becoming homeless, are identified as chronic relapsers or are struggling to keep their houses or jobs.


The initial phase of any drug rehabilitation program is detoxification which may last for about three days. Detoxification procedure cleanses the body of alcohol and drugs and is carried out under professional supervision. This is because the withdrawal symptoms can cause discomfort and sometimes the can be dangerous. The time required for detoxification will to some extent depend on the substance used. Whereas the detoxification time required for alcohol is only a few days, it may take a weeks' time to detoxify a person who takes meth or heroin. In a holistic drug rehabilitation center, the detox process is carried out without the use of drugs. Such centers also make use of traditional therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy, and other multi-disciplinary and multi-sensory techniques to enable drug detox. Holistic rehabilitation service providers commonly make use of alternative therapies such as yoga, Tai Chi, acupuncture, nutrition, aroma therapy, etc., in order to maximize the effectiveness of the rehabilitation process.


Education is one of the core components of any inpatient drug treatment or rehab program. It can vary from one facility to another, but in general education is aimed at getting the addict to look at his/her addiction realistically and honestly and change the attitude towards the use of drug as well as alcohol.

In the initial stages of the recovery process, some addicts may continue to be in the denial mode as regards the seriousness of their addiction problem. Education programs are aimed at breaking through the denial as well as ambivalence and get the addict commit to a sober and clean lifestyle. The time required to break through the denial mode varies from one addict to another and therefore the duration of stay in the rehab will also vary.

Group Therapy and Counseling

Group therapy and counseling are provided in the case of both short and long term rehabilitation programs. Addicts are individually counseled by a trained addictions counselor as well as encouraged to participate in daily group therapy meetings along with other patients in the facility. These sessions are aimed at equipping the addict with skills that he/she will need to lead a life without the influence of drug or alcohol.

Addicts are also taught to recognize those situations which are likely to make them go back to drinking or drugs and how they can remain drug and alcohol free in such difficult situations. Those addicts who attend all the sessions make good progress than those who skip sessions. This in turn impacts the addict's duration of stay in the inpatient rehabilitation facility.

The group sessions not only equip addicts with coping skills, but also teach the value of using peer support. Whereas group sessions in some rehabs may actually be the 12-step meetings, in some others it may be facilitated by the staff members in the rehab itself.

Family Meetings

Family meetings are included as part of the rehabilitation process as research has revealed that it helps to bring about significant improvements in the rehab outcomes.

Aftercare Program

The residential rehabilitation will be terminated once it is assessed that the addict is on the right path to recovery and leading a sober life. However, rehabilitation centers continue to provide care even after the completion of the inpatient program as it is important to follow up with the patient for some more time as he/she will now face the real world outside. Depending on each patient's situation, the aftercare program may range from intensive outpatient treatment, stay at a nearby house, 12-step meeting attendance, etc.

All said and done, the fact remains that the longer the addict stays in the rehabilitation center, the better it is for him/her in ensuring a healthy recovery from the addiction problem.