How Long Should I Stay in Rehab?

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

The real question should be, “how long should I stay in addiction treatment?” The answer to this question can be summed up thusly: addiction didn’t occur overnight – it happened over time. The factors that led to one’s addiction are many. They can range from complex emotional issues, depression, reliance upon prescriptions, environment, influences of friends or family, peer pressure or more likely, the chemical changes in your brain that comes from addiction. 

Addiction is a Lifelong Disease

In most cases, addiction forms through a combination of factors. While it’s easy to blame that first choice to try a substance, the reality is that there are factors that influence a person to get deeper and deeper into substance abuse before they become a full-blown addict.   A person can be classified as an addict when they cannot stop themselves from reusing a substance. By “stop, “we don’t mean “stop for a day or two.’ We mean stop altogether – and permanently.   The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that “Research indicates that most addicted individuals need at least 3 months in treatment to significantly reduce or stop their drug use and that the best outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment.”

For most people going into substance abuse treatment, a big question is “how long do you stay in rehab?” The easy answer is “As long as you need to, to learn how to stay clean and sober.”  It is not always that simple, though.   For people who have been addicted for years or decades, it’s outrageous to think that 30-90 days in Rehab is going to cure their addiction.

They may be clean and sober when they leave rehab, but they’ve not done anywhere near enough work on the root causes of their addiction. This is like putting a new paint job on a car that has a blown engine.   Most addicts suffer from depression, low self-esteem, a feeling of helplessness or other common maladies that everyone experiences, to some extent. What’s different in an addict’s brain is that a substance serves as their solution to these thoughts and feelings.

The brain needs time to be re-trained in a way that better helps the individual cope with these feelings. Continuing one’s addiction treatment after rehab is the only way to do this effectively. Since a person’s addiction has usually had many years to take root, it’s no surprise that addiction treatment will take time. 

That being said, for many people, insurance often plays a big role in the how long they stay in treatment. Ninety days of treatment may have to be a combination of inpatient and outpatient treatment.


If you’re one of the lucky that has access to insurance that pays for Rehab, by all means, you should use it. Rehab will get you clean and sober, but you’re just getting started. Aftercare is the next step. What is aftercare? As the name implies, aftercare is care that comes after Rehab.   This includes things like outpatient or even intensive outpatient treatment (IOP). Essentially, you’re best bet is a supervised residential facility where you can get counseling treatment during the week, but still have time to work, even if it’s a basic job. Worst case scenario, many residential treatment facilities such as sober living homes are available.

These are often like a dorm, with two adults to a room (private rooms are usually available, but a considerably higher price), and usually affordable enough to be covered by the patient’s paychecks from a job.   The average stay in a sober living home or residential facility is 6-9 months. Research has shown that the longer you stay, the greater chances of maintaining one’s sobriety after such treatment.   Choosing how long to stay is a personal choice. Some people with established careers often try to go back to work right after rehab. Citing their limitations because of their job work, they ignore the need for aftercare. The relapse rate of such individuals is well over 90%.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) states that eligible employees of covered employers can take unpaid, job-protected leave with continuation of group health insurance coverage for up to twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for a serious health condition. An application for FMLA can be filed by the treatment facility and is a relatively easy process. Sometimes people also have Short Term Disability Insurance (STDI) that will help cover some of their lost wages. 

If an individual is struggling with other mental health issues, longer treatment may be necessary to address those issues. Many times the substance use needs to be addressed initially before having a definitive diagnosis and determining treatment for mental health disorder. Some medications take a considerable period of time before becoming effective and several may need to be tried before finding the appropriate medication and dose. All of these factors need to be taken into account when thinking about how long treatment needs to be.

The aftercare plan also is critical and may determine the length of stay in inpatient treatment. If someone is returning home a longer inpatient stay may be beneficial, but if one is staying in the area and attending outpatient and supportive sober living, a lesser amount of actual inpatient treatment may be feasible.


At our sober living facilities, most residents work some sort of a job to pay their monthly rent. Several days a week and in some evenings, they attend counseling groups, behavioral therapy groups and get connected with mental health professionals as needed.   Our sober living homes use a holistic approach that doesn’t just focus on therapy – other things like family counseling, adventure therapy, Yoga, charity work and team building events are all a part of this.

Best of all, the bonds that form between residents seem to last a lifetime. Many people who enter our programs feeling broken and confused go on to develop strong friendships and connections with their fellow residents and our counselors.   In short, you’re investing in your own life – how much is it worth? Every nickel. The question “How Long Should I stay in Rehab?” then really becomes, how much time are you willing to invest in giving you the greatest chance of success?

Getting Help at Renaissance Recovery

If you are looking for a treatment center that can help you every step of the way on your sobriety journey, look no further. Renaissance Recovery is an Orange County drug and alcohol rehab built to help you with all stages of the sobriety journey. From first intake to an aftercare program, Renaissance has your back.

Please give our admissions team a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

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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