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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

an image of a man thinking how long is rehab

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

If you’re asking yourself how long is rehab, you won’t find a fixed answer to this question.

All addictions are unique. If you have a mild marijuana use disorder, or you recently started abusing prescription painkillers, your treatment needs will be different from those of a chronic alcoholic or long-term heroin addict.

To get an initial idea of how long does rehab last, rehab programs can be broadly categorized as follows:

  • 30-day programs
  • 60-day programs
  • 90-day programs
  • Extended programs (sober living homes)

To preface today’s guide to the duration of different types of addiction treatment, a simple piece of guidance. Focus purely on obtaining the treatment you feel will yield the greatest chance of long-term sobriety. If you do this rather than obsessing over the timeframe of treatment, you have more chance of a favorable outcome.

According to NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse), at least 90 days of treatment is recommended for most addictions, whether that is inpatient or outpatient treatment – more on those below. Beyond this, if the treatment lasts longer than this, outcomes are typically superior.

So, while you might be tempted to view rehab as something to get finished as quickly as possible, it doesn’t work like that. Recovery is not simply the next task to tick off your to-do list, but rather a lifelong process rather than an isolated event. Luckily, treatment programs like Renaissance Recovery’s Southern California recovery center can provide you or your loved one with the assistance you need.

Before we outline the duration of various types of addiction treatment, how long do you stay in rehab for alcohol use disorder?

How Long is Alcohol Rehab?

How long rehab lasts will depend largely on the severity of your alcohol use disorder.

If you’re suffering from severe AUD, especially if you also have a co-occurring mental health condition, you will likely benefit most fully from extended treatment pursuing a dual diagnosis program.

For more moderate addictions, 30 to 90 days in residential rehab, following a medically supervised detox is likely the most effective route to recovery.

Milder addictions respond favorably to outpatient treatment, whether a traditional outpatient program or a more intensive PHP (partial hospitalization program) or IOP (intensive outpatient program).

The best treatment centers will deliver a personalized treatment program that caters to your needs, your schedule, and your finances, but without compromising the quality of care delivered.

We’ll now briefly highlight the key benefits of each of the categories of rehab listed above.

Benefits of 30-day programs

30-day treatment programs are a great starting point for sustained recovery.

When you first engage with addiction treatment for alcohol use disorder, it may not be immediately clear how long you need to stay in rehab for. 

During the course of a 30-day program, you and your treatment team will get better insight into the scope of your addiction, and you can determine whether you need to continue with treatment, step down to a less intensive level of care, or if you’re ready to pursue sustained sobriety through an aftercare program.

By the end of a 30-day program, you will have eliminated all physical withdrawal symptoms, assuming you have remained abstinent for the duration of treatment.

You should also by this stage have established a clear relapse prevention plan.

Benefits of 60-day programs

With a 60-day program for AUD, you benefit from more time and more support, both invaluable in the case of more severe cases of alcoholism.

After detoxing and withdrawing from alcohol, you’ll have lots of time to dive deeper into the root causes of your addictions. Through individual and group therapy, as well as family therapy if appropriate, you’ll develop a clearer understanding of addiction, and you’ll also discover more about the challenges of ongoing recovery.

During a two-month program like this, you’ll also have the opportunity to start building a healthier and more productive lifestyle.

Even if your insurance doesn’t cover the full cost of a 60-day program for alcohol use disorder, many treatment centers will offer payment plans. Never let the perceived barrier of finance prevent you from obtaining the treatment you need to unshackle yourself from alcoholism.

Benefits of 90-day programs

If you find the thought of a 90-day treatment program for alcohol use disorder overwhelming, we refer you again to our suggestion of viewing recovery as an ongoing process instead of a single event. The longer you spend creating a foundation for life after rehab, the stronger your chances of staying sober without relapsing.

Treatment outcomes are more favorable on average than either 30-day or 60-day programs.

Over the course of a three-month treatment program, you have the chance to adjust fully to life without alcohol barraging your system, and you’ll also have ample opportunity to create a robust aftercare plan so you can leave rehab with a spring in your step and all the support you need in place.

Benefits of extended care

Extended care usually comes in the form of basing yourself at a sober living community. Here, you’ll find an affordable and alcohol-free environment where you’ll be surrounded by others going through similar experiences.

You have access to staff on site to address any concerns, and you’ll be able to ease back into everyday living without the stressors of an unsupportive home environment, and without any immediate triggers tempting you to pick up a bottle.

How Long Does Rehab Take for Drugs?

If you need to engage with treatment for substance use disorder, this usually lasts from 30 days to a year, depending on the scope and severity of the drug addiction.

Addiction to drugs like heroin and meth typically calls for a lengthier stay in rehab.

Following detox and withdrawal, the central phase of rehab begins. Here, you’ll benefit from MAT (medication-assisted treatment) delivered in combination with talk therapies like CBT and DBT. You can also expect counseling, both individual and group.

According to the SAMHSA’s TEDS (Treatment Episode Data Set), the median length of rehab for drug addiction is as follows:

  • Detox: 4 days
  • MAT opioid detox: 5 days
  • Residential treatment in hospital: 16 days
  • Residential treatment (short-term): 27 days
  • IOP: 88 days
  • Residential treatment (long-term): 90 days
  • Outpatient treatment: 130 days
  • Outpatient MAT for opioid therapy: 207 days

In the event of severe substance use disorders, you’ll usually require long-term treatment. This especially applies if you have a co-occurring mental health condition like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.

How Long Does Meth Rehab Take?

Crystal meth is a powerfully addictive stimulant. Tolerance and addiction quickly build, leading to the manifestation of meth withdrawal symptoms if you try to stop using the drug.

Detoxing from meth is unpleasant, and the withdrawal symptoms are extremely uncomfortable. These occur as your body attempts to metabolize and eliminate the drug from your system.

Meth withdrawal symptoms can be mental, physical, and behavioral. The intensity and duration of these symptoms depend on many variables, including the length of time you have been addicted, and the amount of meth you have been using.

Medical detox is normally advisable so you have qualified medical assistance on-demand, as well as medications to ease some symptoms of withdrawal.

Unlike for alcohol use disorder or opioid use disorder, there is no FDA-approved medication to ease meth detox.

Expect symptoms of meth withdrawal to present roughly 24 hours after the last dose. Fatigue kicks in, followed by intense feelings of depression. Sometimes, people also experience anxiety, insomnia, and hallucinations during meth withdrawal.

Meth rehab is characterized by three main components:

  • Crash
  • Cravings
  • Recovery

Since meth withdrawal can last up to 40 weeks, you should look for a treatment program offering you long enough to fully stabilize and prepare yourself for ongoing recovery. It’s unlikely a 30-day program will provide you with enough support.

How Long is Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab?

Inpatient

If you are severely addicted to alcohol or certain drugs, withdrawal can be dangerous, and possibly even fatal. Anyone at risk of experiencing serious withdrawal symptoms should detox and engage with recovery in an inpatient treatment center.

As well as being effective for treating severe alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder, residential rehab also works well if you live in a volatile, high-risk environment.

How long is inpatient rehab, then?

Many treatment centers offer 30-day residential rehab programs, while others offer inpatient treatment lasting for many months, per SAMHSA guidelines.

How long is outpatient rehab?

Outpatient

Outpatient addiction treatment is suitable for treating most mild and some moderate addictions. This is the most suitable of options for those searching for “rehabs near me” so they can continue daily life while getting the professional addiction and mental health treatment that suits their schedule.

During the day, you’ll attend sessions at a treatment center. Each evening, you return home or to a sober living home.

The time commitment is contingent on whether you choose a traditional outpatient program, a part-time IOP (intensive outpatient program of at least 9 hours weekly), or a full-time PHP (partial hospitalization program).

Some people find it beneficial to step down the continuum of care from inpatient rehab to a form of outpatient treatment.

Rather than obsessing about how long does rehab take, we would encourage you to take a broader view, focusing purely on long-term and sustainable sobriety rather than an arbitrary time frame.

Outpatient care normally lasts from 1 to 6 months if you’re looking for a rough estimate of the treatment timeline.

Getting Help at Renaissance Recovery

Whether you’re addicted to alcohol, prescription medication, or illicit drugs, here at Renaissance Recovery’s Orange County rehab we have personalized outpatient treatment programs to suit everyone.

Through a combination of evidence-based medication-assisted treatment and psychotherapy, as well as counseling and holistic rehab, you’ll move from active addiction through detox and withdrawal. You can then start building a firm foundation for ongoing recovery, with the help of our team of experts every step of the way.

When you complete your treatment program, we ensure you have all the aftercare you need in place to transition as seamlessly as possible back into daily living.

All you need is a commitment to recovery and the willingness to reach out to admissions at 866.330.9449.

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Pat C

“I owe my life and my happiness to these people. October 8th, 2019 marked two years of sobriety for me, and prior to finding Renaissance I hadn’t had 24 hours sober in nearly 20 years.”

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Paige R

“They truly cared for me and the other people that I served with! From this group, I have made 8 new brothers and friends for life! We have continued on, after the program, to take care of each other”

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Courtney S

“Great staff who took the time to get to know me. They have a lot of experience in this field and have first hand experience with what I was going through. IOP is outstanding and really built up a ton of great relationships and found this program to be a ‘breath of fresh air’.”

Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country