Residential drug rehabilitation: How long?

If you or a loved one is in need of residential drug rehabilitation, the sooner you get help, the better. How long does the rehab process last? -Get the answers here!

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Overcoming a drug addiction isn’t easy, nor is it a quick process. Individuals who are considering to go through the drug rehabilitation process often have one question that pops into their minds frequently – how long does it take?

We review here. Then, we invite your questions and comments in the section at the end. In fact, we’ll try to respond to you personally and promptly.

Residential rehab: How long does it take?

The amount of time spent in residential drug rehabilitation will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • medical and family history
  • a person’s readiness for sober living
  • the diagnosis of co-occuring disorders
  • the home environment
  • the severity of a person’s addiction

…as well as their individual needs. So, what individuals can get the most out of attending residential rehab? Not surprisingly, people who are diagnosed with more severe addictions will usually require more time in rehab than those with mild or moderate addictions. However, individuals with prior responsibilities, such as career and family obligations, may be able to work with addiction specialists to create an addiction treatment plan that suits their needs.

Residential drug rehabilitation duration

There are a few factors that affect residential drug rehabilitation duration. One of the most common factors that affects the time spent in treatment is the type of residential drug rehabilitation program that a person is in.

Short-term residential drug rehabilitation. The duration of a typical short-term drug rehabilitation program is roughly a month, or more specifically, 28 days. Some short-term rehab programs may last as long as 90 days, or roughly three months.

Long-term residential drug rehabilitation. Rehab programs that last over three months are typically considered to be long-term residential drug rehabilitation programs. Some of these programs can take a year or more to complete.

Residential drug rehabilitation average time

One of the most common types of residential drug rehabilitation is the traditional 28-day rehab program. This type of program usually only requires a four week time commitment. However, because it is more of a short-term treatment option, 28-day rehab may not be the most effective option for everyone.

Studies have shown that a more effective option for most recovering addicts is long-term residential drug rehabilitation. The average time to complete a long-term program varies, depending on the type of program, but it can range from three months to two years.

One of the reasons that long-term residential drug rehabilitation is usually more effective is the sheer length of time spent in a rehab facility. Long-term residential rehab facilities provide safe and drug-free environments, which  allow recovering drug addicts to remove themselves from healthy environments. The idea is that the longer you are able to focus on your recovery, the more likely you will be to stay clean and sober. Plus, long-term residential drug rehabilitation programs offer more intensive therapy over a longer period of time. This allows for more time to treat the addiction as well as any co-occurring mental health disorders.

Residential drug rehabilitation timeline

The residential drug rehabilitation timeline for most treatment programs is very similar, regardless of which program or facility that you enter. following list of services and treatment options are usually available in most rehab programs.

STEP 1:  Assessment

Before entering any residential drug rehabilitation program, you will need to undergo an initial assessment. This evaluation is used to determine the severity of your addiction as well as the best course of treatment. Assessment usually takes less than a day, or 2 at the most and will include interviews, drug testing, and a medical exam. Underlying mental illnesses that may be causing or exacerbating your addiction are also usually diagnosed at this time.

STEP 2:  Medical detox

Detox can last from a few days to a week, or longer. The goal of detox is to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and prevent major medical complications when a person stops using drugs. During medical detox, doctors and nurses constantly monitor your physical health while you go through withdrawal to ensure that they do so comfortably and safely.

STEP 3.1:  Therapy and counseling

This phase of rehab can last from a month to years after you leave a rehab. Psychological treatment is often the cornerstone of residential drug rehabilitation. While in a residential drug rehabilitation program, a recovering addict will undergo daily individual behavior therapy and group counseling sessions for as long as you are enrolled at the rehab. Most facilities also encourage participation in family counseling sessions as well.

STEP 3.2:  Pharmacotherapy

Medications are sometimes used in conjunction with psychological treatments to treat severe addictions. This includes opiate replacement therapy. Medications may be prescribed during withdrawal or as maintenance therapies: anywhere from a few days to many months or years after you initially stop using.

STEP 4:  Supportive services

Recovering addicts needs a considerable amount of support both during and after residential drug rehabilitation. These support service can last for weeks to months after discharge from a drug rehabilitation center. Drug rehab facilities offer a variety of supportive services to recovering addicts, which can help them get back on their feet after rehab and remain drug free.

After completing a residential drug rehabilitation program, recovering addicts may also need to continue treatment on an outpatient basis. Many residential facilities offer outpatient services, such as outpatient therapy sessions and progress evaluations, for as long as they need them.

Residential drug rehabilitation: Short-term vs. long-term

The decision to choose a short-term vs. long-term residential drug rehabilitation program is one that should be made based on your individual wants and needs. An addiction specialist or other mental health professional can help you determine which type of drug rehabilitation program is best for you.

Generally, short-term residential drug rehabilitation is best for individuals diagnosed with mild to moderate drug addictions. They are designed for addicts who are still self-sufficient and functioning well in most areas of their lives. They are also more convenient for addicts with responsibilities that they are unable to leave for long periods of time, such as family and career obligations.

On the other hand, you may be a good candidate for long-term residential drug rehabilitation if you are struggling with a severe addiction. These types of programs are designed for individuals who have absolutely no control over their drug use and whose drug use has completely taken over their lives. Long-term treatment may also be a good option for you if other short-term treatment programs have not been effective for you…or if your home environment does not support a sober life.

Residential drug rehabilitation time

For anyone in need of residential drug rehabilitation, time should not be wasted. If you or a loved one is in need of drug addiction treatment, the sooner you get help, the better.

However, it’s natural to have questions and concerns about the process and duration of treatment. If this is the case, feel free to leave a comment below. We’ll try to address each of your concerns as soon as possible.

Reference Sources: NIDA: Principles of drug addiction treatment
NIDA: Typical length of treatment in a therapeutic community
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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