How Long is Drug Rehab and Alcohol Addiction Treatment?

How Long Does Drug Addiction Treatment Usually Last?

Anyone who has ever seen a doctor for an illness wants to know right up front: “When will I start feeling better?” Treatment for drug addiction is no different, but just as with the flu or a more serious problem like cancer, the answer is often, “It depends.” Much is determined by a user’s unique physiology and the details of his addiction, but some guidelines can help you or your loved one get an idea of what to expect when entering treatment.

The Average Duration of Treatment

Most drug addiction programs last from 28 to 90 days, but this isn’t to say there aren’t longer programs or shorter ones, depending on you or your loved one’s needs. Staff will assess the nature of your addiction and your circumstances when you enter treatment, and can give you an idea of how long treatment should last. Long-term treatment for more serious addictions may last up to 120 days or even longer.

Committing to the Best Outcome

The National Institute on Drug Abuse doesn’t put much stock in treatment programs that last less than 90 days, either outpatient or residential. It indicates that shorter treatments provide limited long-term results. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees, stating that the duration of treatment directly correlates to whether it will foster long-term recovery. Addiction can affect multiple areas of the brain, and it takes time to heal all of them and address behavioral issues as well.

What Treatment Might Include

You or your loved one have various options for a drug addiction treatment program, and the treatment you need or choose can affect its duration. Detoxification can take up to 14 days if it’s necessary, depending on the substance you’ve been using. Medically supervised detox is most often advised for barbiturate and benzodiazepine addictions, as well as for alcohol. Methadone maintenance can last up to a year or more.

Therapies and other treatment typically begin after detox is successfully completed, allowing you to move forward. This might include cognitive behavioral therapy, medically assisted treatment such as methadone maintenance, group or individual counseling sessions or mental health therapy or treatment.

The Importance of Aftercare

Successful healing can be a lifelong commitment. This may sound a little overwhelming, but the steps of aftercare do not have to be onerous or difficult. You’re most vulnerable to relapse during early recovery, so you may want to continue with therapy for a while if you feel it’s benefitting you — you don’t have to stop when you think you’re “cured.” In fact, it could be of significant benefit to continue, particularly if you suffer from a concurrent mental health condition. You may want to spend a little time in a halfway house to help with your transition back to normal life and routines, or join an ongoing 12-step program for emotional and social support.

All these steps take time, but taking the time necessary to adjust to new habits and thinking can mean a lifetime of sober living.