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Average Length Of Rehab
The length of an individual’s treatment depends on many factors, including the level of care determined at admission.
Detox programs can last three to 14 days, as the type of substance and the severity of withdrawal symptoms can be contributing factors. Inpatient treatment generally lasts 30-90 days, while outpatient treatment and therapy are intended for long-term support and, therefore, can last from a few weeks to a year or more.
Other various factors impact the length of time someone spends in treatment, including:
- Time needed to set and reach goals
- Presence of chronic or lingering withdrawal symptoms
- Participation in traditional and alternative therapies
- Desire to stay
- Co-occurring physical or mental conditions
- Location and type of facility
- Finances and available insurance coverage
- Number of previous relapses
Each program and level of care consists of goals to accomplish before transitioning to a different level of care or discharge.
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The addiction treatment timeline begins long before entering a rehab program. It starts the moment someone recognizes they have an alcohol or substance use disorder and realizes that the substance controls their lives. They likely experience negative consequences due to their use but cannot quit, even when they attempt to do so.
1. Seek Help
Once someone knows they have a problem, they seek help — this is the first stage on the timeline. Reaching out to a treatment facility leads to scheduling a biopsychosocial assessment virtually or in person. The assessment results help determine the most appropriate level of care. Assessments may take two or three hours, but a recommendation will immediately follow.
2. Enter Treatment
Entering treatment can happen on the same day as the assessment for some. For others, it may mean waiting a few days or weeks until openings become available at the facility. Transitioning through various levels of care can take weeks or months, and it’s important to remember that recovery does not end when a person completes treatment.
Aftercare support consists of the resources in the community that support recovery. Everyone discharged from treatment should leave with an aftercare plan that sets them up for success. Plans may include medication-assisted programs, childcare, job interviews, transportation, housing assistance, and job training.
4. Maintain Sobriety
Maintaining recovery is the final stage in the timeline and does not have an end date. It involves using the right tools and skills to help someone stay sober for the rest of their lives.
While any level of treatment can be beneficial to someone battling a substance use disorder, different programs often have varying goals and methods.
Benefits Of 30-Day Programs
Often, 30-day programs are beneficial to people who are caretakers and whose schedule may not allow for lengthy treatment.
Rehab programs that last 30 days allow time to safely detox from abused substances and, since the environment is safe and private, they get much-needed peer support. In addition, the cost of treatment is often less than longer programs, even when transitioning to an outpatient program.
Progress can be made in 30 days, allowing people to return home to their families, jobs, and other responsibilities within a month’s time.
Benefits Of 90-Day Programs
Staying in rehab for at least 90 days allows for emotional, physical, and psychological support to begin recovery. Clinicians get to know participants better, which helps them create beneficial treatment and aftercare plans. Longer stays also give the body time to heal.
Other benefits include spending a longer time away from drugs and alcohol, addressing potential relapse triggers while surrounded by support, acquiring relapse prevention skills, building self-confidence, and setting realistic goals, all reducing the likelihood of relapse.
Stays Longer Than 90 Days
Longer treatment stays can be beneficial for people who may need more time to overcome certain mental health conditions or who have suffered from frequent relapse. Residential, sober living, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient programs are designed for those needing more time.
Advantages Of Longer Rehab Programs
Generally, the longer someone stays in rehab, the better. Research shows the brain can recover from addiction trauma, but just as it took the brain time to become dependent on alcohol or drugs, it can take just as long for the brain to heal.
Longer rehab programs give people the time they need for physical recovery. Additional advantages include:
- Time away from negative influences.
- Time away from the triggers and stress of the addiction cycle.
- Access to medication to curb cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
- Ability to learn and practice relapse prevention skills.
- Acclimation to the treatment process.
- A focus on identifying and overcoming the reason for the addiction.
- Experience the benefits of structure and routine.
- Access to a broader range of traditional and alternative treatment services.
- Time to figure out a successful recovery and aftercare plan.
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Types Of Rehabs
Rehab exists on a continuum of care, from the most intensive to the least restrictive, established by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. It’s important to note that anyone entering treatment can move up and down the continuum of care as needed, which may alter the length of rehab.
Inpatient detox can take from three to 14 days, on average. This level of care aims to detox the body from substances and mental and physical stabilization. Someone facing severe withdrawal symptoms, including seizures, delirium tremens, extreme dehydration, and heart arrhythmias, requires 24-hour medical supervision in a hospital. They are not yet physically or mentally stable enough to participate in individual or group therapies. Doctors and nurses check on them multiple times a day and administer medication to assist with detox as part of the treatment.
Medically Monitored Intensive Inpatient (Inpatient Rehab)
Someone facing mild withdrawal symptoms but who may still benefit from medication-assisted treatment may enter this level of care in a hospital. They are stable enough to participate in therapies, support groups, and educational classes. Doctors meet with them weekly or as needed, while nurses are accessible daily. Starting treatment here means their home environment is not conducive to recovery, and relapse is likely if given a lower level of care.
Those needing non-intensive inpatient care may choose residential services. Many treatment facilities offer high-intensity, low-intensity, and population-specific residential programs. Someone with an addiction can stay in a 24-hour facility that is not a hospital but more like a home. They receive medication management and therapies and participate in classes and support groups during the day.
Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)
Partial hospitalization programs typically run for 16 weeks, but each participant’s length of stay may vary due to their progress.
When someone has a healthy home environment that supports their recovery, has transportation to attend therapies, and shows motivation for change, they can benefit from a partial hospitalization program. PHP is an outpatient program that meets five days a week for at least five hours. It offers flexibility to participants who have jobs or family obligations they can’t leave.
Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
Intensive outpatient programs can run for nine weeks or longer, depending on participants’ ability to reach their goals.
An intensive outpatient program is similar to PHP, except participants attend individual and group therapies three days a week for at least three hours daily. An IOP is less restrictive, but participants must abide by the rules, including passing random drug and alcohol testing.
Participants learn early recovery and relapse prevention skills in both PHP and IOP. They connect with recovery-oriented groups and activities in their spare time, such as 12-step programs.
An outpatient counseling program’s length can range from a few weeks to a year or longer.
A referral to standard outpatient counseling can have different meanings. One may be that a person is not ready to stop misusing alcohol or drugs, is in denial, and shows no motivation for change. Attending weekly outpatient counseling allows therapists to motivate them through various counseling techniques.
Another reason may be that they are in the beginning stages of addiction. They can succeed in outpatient services because they are ready for recovery and have access to resources for change.
Explore Your Rehab Options
It’s important to remember that addiction is a disease, so treatment is necessary. Luckily, different types of treatment of varying lengths exist to help people get the support they need.
Contact a treatment provider today to learn more about various treatment options.