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How Long is Long-Term Rehab?

When recovering from a drug addiction drug rehab programs are an obvious choice and should be considered by any patient. Recent studies and previous statistics show that patients who are part of long term rehabilitation program have better long term prognosis and higher rates of success. Therefore, choosing a long term rehab program is an excellent way of treating a debilitating addiction.

Basic lengths of a drug rehab program

The benefits of a long term rehab program stem directly from its actual length of treatment. The length can be as short as one month of treatment or can extend to over 2 years in severe and slow developing cases. Long term rehab programs are used by patients recovering from years of drug abuse and after other ways of treatment have been tried, with poor results.

The thirty days treatment period is the maximum period covered by insurance and therefore it is considered ideal. But recently the National Institute of Drug Abuse has stated that 90 days of treatment (3 months) is the new gold standard for rehab programs. This comes after studies and real life examples have shown that people who go through at least 90 days of treatment have lower relapse rates and better overall outcomes.

Why is a longer drug rehab program better?

Patients with drug addictions requiring rehabilitation are often faced with problems when having to go 30 days with outside connection. Being away from your family or job and social circle is extremely difficult and can pose severe problems. But 90-days treatments or longer pose even greater risks and problems for patients and their families or friends. Patients need to know that rehabilitation takes time and it requires a prolonged ongoing effort to have the best outcomes. These are some of the benefits of a long-term rehab program:

1. The detox procedure isn't continuous and doesn't require the full 30 day period or 90 day period. Of course, this is the most important part of a good recovery program but not every day involves detox. Full treatment involves also other forms of approaches. After a longer stay in a rehab center, patients go through a period of several weeks involving additional types of treatment, which helps the recovery process.

2. Brain healing is a prime concern for long term rehab programs. After years of drug abuse, the brain is affected and healing it is one of the main issues when coming to a rehab center. Complete brain recovery cannot be done in a few weeks, and brain scans show that the brain is affected even after six months after the rehab. This explains why most patients complain of cloudy thinking, motor skills deficits or other issues even after months of treatment. This is one of the reasons why rehabs should take a longer period of intense exercise and therapy for the best results.

3. Learning and applying social skills. Patients recovering from drug abuse require a long period of time to regain their social as well as motor skills. A rehab center can provide the perfect environment for such treatment, with special sober living quarters. This ensures that patients are not thrown back into their environment without complete healing. Work includes gradual improvement of skills under specialized guidance and therapy groups. Support is given on a daily basis by teams of doctors and other specialists.

4. Creating new habits. Prolonged drug rehabilitation programs require a complete change of previous behaviors and habits. New habits require anything from a couple of weeks to three months. Patients are helped by specialist workers and doctors to develop and embrace new habits and hobbies. These can include group meetings with discussions on various topics of interest, recreation through sports and team activities, meditation and even short travelling outside the rehab center for some patients. All these elements will ensure a smooth transition to a healthy, normal lifestyle.

5. Prevent future relapses. Patients will always leave the rehab center with a relapse prevention program specifically designed for them by a team of specialists. Previous drug addicts already know their triggers and know to estimate the risks of a new addiction but are also helped to better evaluate the health concerns after a rehab program. Programs such as intensive outpatient treatment or sober living enable patients to better understand the benefits of a rehab program. Patients will ultimately know how to deal with emotional cravings, specific triggers, stress, social anxiety stemming from drugs, self-help groups and reaching support.

6. Reestablishing relationships. Patients will be helped to heal the previously harmed relationships with their families, friends and spouse. Couple therapy or family counseling is included also, if needed.

7. Observing and treating connected disorders. Drug addiction doesn't usually come alone, with many patients suffering from a string of affections. Other addictions are very common and pose a complex risk for treatment procedures. These include sex, food or gambling addictions and also other mental disorders, with such examples as social anxiety, depression, eating disorders and trauma. Sometimes, many of these disorders are not visible during the treatment period and therefore special care must be given to every patient. This is why a treatment period of over 30 days is extremely efficient in discovering and treating these issues. If left untreated, these conditions can aggravate and ultimately can bring dire consequences to patients. The possibility of relapse is the highest risk.

Drug rehab center exhibit great success rates for their long term programs, as evidenced by their patients coming from a professional background. Physicians for instance have a documented period of up to 5 years of abstinence in79 percent of cases. Also, return to work rates reaches an impressive figure of 96 percent. The programs in the study were long term rehabilitation treatments coupled with long term monitoring and specialized support. These results are also likely similar to other high demanding professions.

Who can benefit from a long term drug rehabilitation program?

Long term drug rehab programs are suited for any patient looking for the best opportunity for a complete rehab. Needs must be evaluated for each case and the treatment must be differentiated according to special needs. Patients requiring this type of rehab are:

  • Patients that exhibit related health problems
  • Are resistant to traditional methods of treatment
  • Have related mental disorders
  • Have a family or social environment that is not prone to sobriety
  • Patients that suffer from repeated relapses


When going to a rehab center, any patient is looking for a single outcome. They want to get rid of the drug addiction for good. Through a complete step by step, prolonged and supervised treatment any drug addict can overcome this debilitating disorder. The treatment, which may consist of 30 days, or 90 days, or even 180 days, will ultimately make any patient healthy and adapted to a new normal period in his life. To put it simply lifelong recovery requires long term treatment to be fully effective.