How long does inpatient alcohol rehab last?

Inpatient alcohol rehab can last 30, 60, or 90 days. Some stays are longer. More on standard protocols for alcohol rehab duration here.

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Inpatient rehabilitation requires at least a 28 day stay, but can be extended as needed. However, inpatient alcohol rehab is usually well worth the time. What can you expect about how long inpatient alcohol rehab lasts? Read on for the facts.

Considering inpatient alcohol rehab?

That’s good news.

Want to know exactly what inpatient alcohol rehab is? Generally, inpatient alcohol rehab is recommended for people who have tried to stop drinking on their own but have failed…or those whose home environment makes it really hard to quit. Why?

First of all, individuals in inpatient alcohol rehab programs don’t have any access to alcohol and are therefore much less likely to relapse during treatment. Additionally, an intense inpatient alcohol rehab program helps recovering alcoholics focus on the issues which underlie addiction without temptation or distraction. Finally, an inpatient rehab offers a very structured environment, crucial to re-establishing health life routines. But how long does rehab typically last for an average stay? And what can you expect?

Inpatient alcohol rehab: How long does it last?

There are a couple of main types of inpatient alcohol rehab. Depending on the severity of an alcohol problem, a person may benefit from either traditional inpatient alcohol rehab or long-term alcohol rehab. So how long inpatient alcohol rehab lasts depends upon individual diagnosis and situation.

1.  Traditional inpatient alcohol rehab

A traditional alcohol rehab program requires at least a 28-30 day stay in an alcohol rehab facility. This type of treatment is usually recommended for individuals with moderate drinking problems. Treatment typically includes individual counseling and group therapy, and sometimes family counseling. Others may be encouraged to stay for a total of 60-90 days. Three (3) months is about the maximum amount of time for this traditional model of alcoholism treatment.

2.  Long-term inpatient alcohol rehab

Individuals with severe drinking problems may be better suited to long-term inpatient alcohol rehab programs. These programs can last anywhere from three months to a year, and typically include individual and family counseling as well as group therapy. Group living situations are arranged, as are vocational training and attendance in alcoholism support groups. Intensity of treatment changes over time with this model. The most intensive treatments usually occur in the first three (3) and taper down in the weeks and months that pass.

Inpatient alcohol rehab duration and time

So what generally happens during a stint in an inpatient alcohol rehab center? There are general rehab rules and life is very structured. During inpatient alcohol rehab, recovering alcoholics will live together and go through therapy together. Daily group therapy sessions are often required, as are individual counseling sessions. Lunch is prepared for you and free time is minimal. Days are usually filled with education sessions, 12 step meetings, and psychotherapy.

Inpatient alcohol rehab: A timeline of what happens

Inpatient alcohol rehab can often be broken down into easily identifiable stages. Here is an inpatient alcohol rehab timeline to give you an idea of what you can expect.

Day 1: Evaluation

The first day of inpatient alcohol rehab includes screening and clinical assessment. This process generally takes a few hours, at most, and will include an interview process and a urinalysis drug screen. Based on the results of the initial evaluation, alcohol rehab staff prepare a treatment plan for the rest of your stay. The first evaluation offers staff a baseline of where you are at the beginning of the rehab process. Throughout your stay, treatments are reviewed, new assessments are made and your treatment plan will be adjusted accordingly.

Week 1: Detoxification

While some people may never need alcohol detox (those who are not physically dependent on alcohol), the detoxification stage can provoke serious side effects for long-term or heavy drinkers. This is the period of time in which the body tries to adjust to functioning without alcohol. It is also the period of time that withdrawal symptoms are the worst and can provoke seizures, hallucinations, or delerium tremens. Some inpatient alcohol rehab programs offer on-site detoxification services, which can last from a fews days to a week, or longer in severe cases.

Weeks 1 to 4: Psychological treatments

A wide range of psychological treatments are used during the course of any inpatient alcohol rehab program. The daily therapy and counseling sessions are used to address underlying psychological problems and teach recovering alcoholics how to cope without drinking. It’s also helpful to work out interpersonal patterns during group therapy sessions. Psychological treatments for alcoholism last for the course of an inpatient rehab program and for several months or years after completing the program.

Weeks 1 to…: Medical treatments

Medications can be prescribed during inpatient alcohol rehab to help ease acute withdrawal or to treat alcohol cravings. Underlying mental health issues may also be treated using antidepressants or anti anxiety medications. Staff psychiatrists or medical doctors evaluate, diagnose, and prescribe medications during inpatient alcohol rehab as necessary. However, medicines are not “magic pills”. They can help aid recovery, but should be accompanied by psychological or behavioral therapies in order to be most successful.

Months 2 to 6: Transition

Leaving an inpatient alcohol rehab program is often an intense and difficult experience for a recovering addict. To minimize the shock of going from a monitored and alcohol-free facility to a society full of temptations, many inpatient alcohol rehab programs offer step down programs. These are used to help make the transition back into society easier and smoother. During this stage, a recovering alcoholic may reside in a halfway/sober living house but will be free to come and go whenever he pleases. This stage of treatment will usually last until a recovering alcoholic feels ready to face the world alone.

Months 2 to …?: Maintenance

After inpatient alcohol rehab, recovering alcoholics will usually start outpatient treatment. This usually includes periodic visits with license clinical psychologists and group therapy sessions. Many recovering alcoholics find themselves in this maintenance stage for several years, or even for the rest of their lives.

Can inpatient alcohol rehab be forced?

It’s quite difficult to force someone into inpatient alcohol rehab. The best action you can take is to stage an intervention if you believe your loved one needs treatment. The best interventions are planned with an expert, certified interventionist or a psychotherapist using the CRAFT model. The goal of an intervention is treatment.

To do this, gather a few close friends and family members to sit down and talk with the alcoholic. Professional guidance is crucial. During an intervention, you will explain that the drinking is causing problems, and make it clear that you would be supportive if they decided to seek treatment.

If an alcoholic refuses to admit he has a problem or refuses treatment, some states allow you to petition that s/he is involuntarily committed to a rehab program. To do this, a petition will need to be filed with your local court. If the court finds that the person is a danger to himself or others, a judge might order him to complete an inpatient alcohol rehab program.

Let’s verify your coverage for treatment at an American Addiction Centers location. Your information is always confidential.


Inpatient alcohol rehab time

It’s no secret that inpatient alcohol rehab is time consuming. However, it’s usually very effective and more than worth the time spent. If you’re considering inpatient alcohol rehab, wondering HOW MUCH does inpatient rehab COST, or have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below. We look forward to helping our readers get the help they need.

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Reference Sources: NIDA: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)
New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services: Treatment Services
New York State Department of Health: What is Addiction Treatment?
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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