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How Long Does Rehab Take, and How Long to Break a Substance Addiction? 

how long does inpatient rehab last

Every addiction is unique. People have different reasons for using, different experiences as a result of using, and different battles they are facing in their everyday lives. As such, there is not one “right” course of treatment for substance addiction. Every treatment plan must be customized to the needs of each individual—taking into consideration their drug of choice, the root of their addiction, the severity of the problem, and the consequences they’ve seen in other areas of their lives. 

We commonly get asked the question, “How long does rehab last?” Clients and their families want to be able to set expectations for the road ahead: How long can they expect to be away from home, school, or work? How long can they expect to see results, and to break an addiction for good? While these are important questions to ask, the answers are not always straightforward. The length of stay in a drug rehab program will depend on your (or your loved one’s) individual needs. Some people can find what they need after 90 days in rehab. Some might benefit from nine months in a treatment program. The duration of treatment is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

We explore this topic, and answer common questions about treatment timelines, below. 

How Long Does Rehab Take to Complete? 

There are many different types of drug rehab, each with varying program lengths. The right program, including its duration, will depend on the severity of your substance abuse. However, as you research how long rehab lasts, you’ll likely come across the following options: 

  • 7-day detoxification programs (designed to get you safely through the withdrawal process) 
  • 30-day rehab programs  
  • 60-day treatment programs 
  • 90-day treatment programs 
  • Long-term treatment programs (over three months) 

In addition to the above, you may also find extended stay facilities—also known as sober living homes or halfway houses—in your research. These are residences for people who have graduated from their rehab program, but are looking to sustain sober living in a safe and structured environment. 

All of the above programs can be effective in treating substance addiction. However, longer stays in treatment are typically recommended for those struggling with a substance use disorder. 

What is the Recommended Length of Addiction Treatment? 

In general, treatment experts recommend at least 90 days in rehab. However, longer stays in treatment are associated with better treatment outcomes. 

In their Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that “remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical.” Of course, the length of rehab will largely depend on each person’s needs and the degree of their addiction. But the NIDA agrees that at least three months in treatment is needed to overcome substance abuse. 

“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. Recovery from drug addiction is a long-term process and frequently requires multiple episodes of treatment.” 

The NIDA also points out that substance addiction is a chronic illness, and relapse can be a normal part of the recovery process. Relapsing during or after drug rehab does not mean that a person has failed; it simply means that the treatment plan needs to be adjusted, or that another stretch in treatment is needed to overcome new challenges. Experts explain: 

“As with other chronic illnesses, relapses to drug abuse can occur and should signal a need for treatment to be reinstated or adjusted. Because individuals often leave treatment prematurely, programs should include strategies to engage and keep patients in treatment.” 

When individuals stay in treatment longer, the likelihood of relapse can be reduced. That is why treatment professionals recommend staying in treatment for 90 days or more. While this stretch of time may be intimidating, it can lead to longer-term results (and help to prevent the need for additional rehab down the road).  

How Long Does Drug Treatment Last at Turnbridge? 

Specializing in mental health and substance use disorder treatment, Turnbridge agrees that rehab can never be one-size-fits-all. Every individual will require a personal evaluation before truly knowing how long treatment will take. Turnbridge also offers a phased approach to treatment, which means that clients get to work at their own pace through the treatment process. Some take longer than others to achieve their goals, and that’s entirely okay. The healing process is not always linear, and everyone’s circumstances and needs are unique. 

With all that said, we have found some commonalities in treatment timelines. For teenagers and young adults at Turnbridge, the most successful outcomes were achieved after 270 days, or nine months, in our addiction treatment program. More than 95 percent of alumni with at least 270 days of treatment remain sober for one year after completion. An incredible 80 percent remain sober for two years following long-term treatment. Only 5 percent of clients required additional care after 270 days in rehab. 

But this is just the beginning, and sobriety is just one measure of success. On top of being abstinent from drugs and alcohol, those who completed 270 days of addiction treatment reported profound behavioral changes, including better coping skills, better relationships, better physical health, and greater independence in life after treatment. This is a testament to the value of long-term rehab

How Long Does It Take to Break a Drug Addiction? 

Drug addiction is a chronic disease that disrupts the brain’s functioning. Specifically, it alters the chemical makeup of a person’s brain and causes drastic, lasting changes over time. The longer a person uses drugs, the more likely they are to experience the cognitive effects, including altered decision-making, lack of impulse control, memory problems, and a general reliance on drugs to function normally (i.e. addiction). The good news is that these changes can be reversed and/or actively managed. However, the treatment and recovery process requires sufficient time

Recovery from addiction is a marathon, not a sprint. Generally speaking, a person can detox from drugs and alcohol, and work through the withdrawal process, in a matter of days or weeks. However, “breaking” an addiction requires a lifelong commitment. Here’s what we mean by that. 

Because it is a chronic illness (just like diabetes), substance addiction must be managed throughout a person’s life. It requires ongoing, active management and care. However, this does not mean a lifetime in and out of rehab. Many people go on to live happy, meaningful lives after treatment is complete. 

Long-term treatment works to make sober living a reality for many by teaching skills that can be used long after treatment is complete. It teaches clients how to: 

  • Manage residual cravings for drugs and alcohol 
  • Cope with difficult situations and triggers 
  • Establish healthy habits that contribute to overall well-being 
  • Carry out a productive and gratifying life, free of drugs and alcohol 
  • Maintain important relationships and step away from negative ones 
  • Take care of one’s emotional and mental health 

With all that said, long-term treatment may not be accessible – or realistic – for everyone. While longer bouts of rehab are recommended, barriers such as cost, school, employment, and family obligations can hinder one’s ability to commit to long-term care. For these individuals, 30 or 60 day inpatient treatment programs are an option, followed by extended outpatient care. This ensures that one gets the skills developed in an inpatient setting, but provides them the support of a longer-term treatment program. Extended care programs also help to ease their integration back into mainstream society. 

Turnbridge offers mental health and substance use disorder treatment, specifically tailored to the unique needs of adolescents and young adults. We understand that the commitment to a rehab program, especially as a young person, can be scary. However, long-term treatment can set you (or your loved one) up for long-term success. Learn more about our programs by visiting us online, or call 877-581-1793 to speak with a treatment professional.