Long-Term Drug and Alcohol Rehab Programs

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What Are Long-Term Rehab Programs?

In most cases, long-term recovery programs require individuals to stay in a controlled setting for 90 days or longer. In some cases, people may stay in a rehab facility for 6 months. Unlike other residential programs, which operate on stays of a few weeks or a month, long-term recovery centers offer multifaceted treatment and enough time for someone struggling with alcohol or drug addiction to address any underlying issues related to the disease process.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most people who are addicted need at least 3 months in treatment to reduce or stop their drug use. In general, people tend to be most successful the longer they stay in treatment.1

However, an extended treatment program is not always the best option for individuals seeking help with their addictions, and a lot of factors go into choosing the right recovery program for your needs.

Do I Need Long-Term Residential Drug Treatment?

A long-term inpatient rehab program is not always the best option for individuals seeking help with their addictions, and a lot of factors go into choosing the right recovery program for your needs.
An extended-stay addiction treatment facility—whether it be a 3-month or 6-month inpatient drug rehab—is often designed to serve individuals who have not been successful with other options.

  • The resources available through such programs can be targeted to those struggling with a number of drug or alcohol relapses, especially when those relapses have made short-term or outpatient care options redundant for individuals.
  • This does not mean you need to have a certain number of relapses or reach a certain point in the addiction recovery process to benefit from long-term care. However, an extended stay in such a facility may have far-reaching implications on your life, so you need to be certain it is the right choice for you. Speaking with your physician, substance abuse counselor and family members is important when making this decision.
  • Types of Extended-Stay Addiction Treatment Programs

Programs at Long-Term Substance Abuse Treatment

Programs exist to treat a variety of chemical dependencies. Some of the most common addictions treated in long-term recovery centers are related to substances such as:

Facilities take varied approaches to addiction recovery programs, so it is important to choose a program that is compatible with your personality. Programs that specifically treat teens are available, as are programs for women and programs that take a whole-body approach to healing. When possible, it is a good idea to speak to someone at the center to find out what approach is taken by the staff. If you are an outgoing person who works best with social stimuli, then you may want a program that involves a lot of group discussions and team-building activities.

The treatment plan at the facility should match your particular circumstance. It should take into account your using history as well as other needs you might have, such as housing or treatment for mental health problems. The plan should also be reevaluated throughout the course of treatment to ensure it’s effective.

Long-Term Addiction Treatment Process

Treatment plans for substance use disorders are typically divided into different phases to best support the person in recovery. Both short- and long-term treatment can include different phases, such as:

  • Medically assisted detoxification (detox).
  • Rehabilitation therapy, which may include individual and group therapy.
  • Aftercare support.

Detox is a particularly important first phase of recovery because it can help manage any potentially serious, acute withdrawal symptoms that are associated with stopping substance use. Withdrawal management can help reduce discomfort while offering people necessary support during the early stages of treatment. During detox, people will focus simply on ridding their body of the substance without the addition of therapy and other treatment.3

After detox, a person may enter other types of treatment depending on the level of care determined by treatment professionals. This may include long-term treatment, which may offer a number of services to facilitate a person’s ongoing recovery process:

  • Individual and/or group therapy: meet with a primary therapist on a regular basis to help develop a treatment plan and connect with others who understand the struggles associated with addiction.
  • Family therapy: to help heal relationships affected by addiction and understand the recovery process.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): combination of behavioral therapies and medication to treat the whole person and can include such medications as buprenorphine and naloxone for treatment of opioid use disorders.4
  • Contingency management: incentive-based programs to help encourage abstinence and staying in treatment.5
  • 12-step facilitation therapy: participate in 12-step self-help groups to help encourage abstinence from misused substances.6

As the treatment portion of a person’s recovery comes to a close, it’s important to have an aftercare plan to encourage ongoing recovery, sobriety, and help prevent relapse. The treatment facility and its team of professionals will help a person develop an aftercare plan that may include additional programs and services to continue after they are discharged from inpatient treatment. This may include attending support groups, continuing counseling, and other resources to support the individual.

Finding a Suitable Rehabilitation Center

The decision to opt for an extended stay in an addiction rehab and recovery treatment facility may come after an especially bad experience or a long line of problems associated with your struggle. In some cases, you may not feel you are in the best place to make a healthy choice. Because there are a number of factors to consider, you might want to ask for help from a trusted friend, family member or counselor. Here are some questions you should ask when considering a stay at a long-term rehab facility:

  • Are the staff members trained and certified to treat chemical dependency?
  • Does the facility offer both clinical and medical staff and treatment options?
  • Are there appropriate group and individual therapy options to meet your needs?
  • Does the facility offer education regarding life skills, coping mechanisms, nutrition, and other factors that will make it easier to remain sober?
  • Can your family or significant other be involved in your treatment?
  • If necessary, does the facility offer dual diagnosis treatment options for those struggling with multiple addictions or with chemical dependency and mental illness?

Treatment should address not only the addiction, but other areas of the person’s life that may have been affected by addiction, such as legal problems, employment, relationships, and health.

Most Important Program Aspects

People entering treatment and people leaving treatment prioritize different program factors, according to a 2016 survey by Recovery Brands. Both groups consider a program’s financial policies to be the most important aspect. The biggest difference between the groups was in the prioritization of a program’s extra offerings, such as room quality, recreational activities, and comfort options.

Ask about all program aspects so that you can make the best choice for you.

Changes in Preferences Pre- and Post-Treatment

Paying for Long-Term Residential Treatment

  • Location is another thing to consider when choosing a rehab treatment facility. For some, a facility close to home will allow continued support from friends and family. For others, a program far from home may provide the freedom to recover without influences or constant memories associated with people or areas related to past drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Financial considerations may keep some individuals from seeking appropriate treatment, but organizations that supply relief in these situations are available. First, check with your health insurance company to find out what mental health benefits are covered under your policy. Because your insurance may only cover treatment by certain programs, this may play a role in your decision. You can also seek assistance through local counseling programs that may be able to put you in touch with financial assistance programs.
  • Keep in mind that many programs offer payment plans or sliding scale fees. You can also consider crowdfunding, borrowing from friends and family, tapping your savings, or using a health care credit card.
  • Free long-term drug treatment centers are available. However, these programs tend to have long waiting lists, and they may have fewer amenities than other programs. You can search free rehab centers that offer long-term care through SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator.

Understanding the Need for Treatment

  • Financial considerations may keep some individuals from seeking appropriate treatment, but organizations that supply relief in these situations are available.
    Statistics show that drug abuse is similar to other chronic diseases when it comes to relapse. In fact, relapse rates for drug abuse (40%-60%) are similar to those seen in other chronic conditions such as heart disease, asthma, or diabetes.2
  • Just as someone with diabetes requires ongoing treatment through medical care, clinical intervention and therapy, someone with a chemical dependency will require ongoing treatment to maintain success. Depending on the severity of the situation, this may include seeking help through long-term recovery programs. You should ensure that any program comes with a recommendation or transition into appropriate aftercare. A doctor would never discharge an asthmatic patient without following up, and you should follow up addiction treatment with support groups and therapy.
  • Aftercare keeps people engaged in recovery and connected to other people who can support them and understand what they’re going through. Staying involved in these programs can reinforce the skills the person learned in treatment and keep them from relapsing.
  • Types of aftercare programs include sober living homes, 12-step meetings, individual or group counseling, and rehab alumni programs.
  • If you’re looking for a 3-month, 6-month, or 9-month rehab facility, browse the treatment directory on this site, which offers listings of hundreds of programs across the country.


[1]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Effective Treatment.

[2]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Treatment and Recovery.

[3]. World Health Organization. (2009). Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings.

[4]. SAMHSA. (2021). Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).

[5]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Contingency Management Interventions/Motivational Incentives (Alcohol, Stimulants, Opioids, Marijuana, Nicotine).

[6]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). 12-Step Facilitation Therapy (Alcohol, Stimulants, Opiates).

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