Understanding Addiction Treatment Program Lengths

There isn’t one simple answer to the question, “How long do recovery programs take?” Most rehab programs range from 28 days to 90 days, depending on your needs and what you want from your treatment program. However, rehab programs vary greatly and you can find shorter and longer stays, as well as both outpatient treatment programs and inpatient residential treatment programs.

How Long Are Alcohol and Drug Rehab Programs?

Any Treatment is a Positive Step

While participation in treatment programs for 90 days or longer typically means higher success rates, treatment of any length is a positive step.

Assessment by an addiction treatment professional should be your guidepost for treatment duration.

If you are ready to take that step, call 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? to discuss treatment options.

Different facilities offer programs of different lengths, because different people need different remedies. Rehab treatment program lengths include, but are not limited to, the following time spans:

The severity of your addiction may guide you into the right program length for you. However, consider that lengthier programs are generally associated with higher rates of success.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), outcomes for residential or outpatient treatment programs are more successful when an individual participates for 90 days or more. NIDA recommends even longer-term treatment to maintain sobriety. Treatment of any length is a positive step in the right direction. Assessment by an addiction treatment professional should ultimately be your guidepost for your desired treatment length.

What Will Addiction Treatment Include?

Regardless of the length of your addiction treatment program, the first steps are generally the same.

Program Intake.

First, you’ll be admitted to the program and given an assessment. The staff at the treatment facility will:

  • Take down your medical history.
  • Evaluate the nature and severity of your addiction, as well as your mental state.
  • Recommend an appropriate treatment plan for you.


Detox may take between 3 and 14 days, and is widely variable based on abused substance type.

  • The length of time that it takes your body to detox can affect the length of time for addiction treatment that you need.
  • A period of medically supervised detox is strongly indicated in cases of alcohol, benzodiazepine and barbiturate abuse, as dangerous withdrawal symptoms may occur when substances of these types are abruptly discontinued.
  • NOTE: Supervised detox is typically available through inpatient treatment programs.

Depending on your program, additional treatment steps may include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
  • Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT), or pharmacotherapy, can be especially important in instances of co-occurring behavioral health or mental health conditions or in treatment of substances with tenacious withdrawal/craving profiles.
  • Regularly scheduled counseling or therapy sessions – both individual and group counseling.
  • Family counseling – wherein family members become active participants in your recovery.
  • Mental health services
  • Medical care, when needed.
  • Participation in 12-step recovery groups, such as AA.
  • Career development training.
  • Adult education classes.
  • Skills training, e.g., financial management.
  • Relapse prevention techniques training.
  • Treatment of co-occurring disorders, such as eating disorders and/or depression.
  • Discharge planning and aftercare planning.

Which Treatment Programs Are the Most Successful?

Both the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advise that people who wish to have a successful recovery should enroll in a program that is at least 90 days in length.

In fact, the CDC cites drug treatment program lengths as one of the most important indicators of whether or not a substance abuse rehab and recovery program will be successful.
NIDA explains that addiction is a disease that has many effects and actually changes the way the brain works. For example, drug abuse affects:

  • The parts of the brain that relate to feelings of reward and motivation.
  • The part of the brain integral to learning and memory.
  • The region of the brain that is responsible for controlling behavior.

Because so many parts of the brain are involved with addiction, it is important to devote a large amount of time to rehab and recovery.
Often, the answer to the question “How long do recovery programs take?” is 90 days. However, some programs may last 18 months or even longer. Many people need long-term recovery programs to help them retrain their brains and beat their addictions.

Essential Components of Good Treatment

Amongst other recommendations, the CDC notes that drug rehab should incorporate the following to be successful:

  • Treatment of recovery as a long-term process that involves a variety of approaches.
  • Consideration of physical or mental health issues that may be occurring in conjunction with the addiction.
  • Tailoring of drug treatment programs to individual patients.
  • Ongoing reassessment of treatment procedures to ensure they are productive.

Treatment programs of longer durations have more time to incorporate a variety of treatment approaches and tailor them to the individual. This, in turn, leads to more successful outcomes.

Which Drug Treatment Program Is Best for Me?

The severity of your substance use disorder should help you determine the type of rehab and the time of the program.

However, remember that the longer your program the more likely to is to incorporate many of the features listed above, like adult education, skills training, and family counseling. The more comprehensive your care, the more likely you are to maintain your sobriety.

The reality is, drug use and addiction is complicated. Some people may claim that it is just about saying “no” or about having better self-control. However, most people need a drug addiction treatment program to help them stop using.

Knowing the type of help you want and need will help you pick the right program. For example, you might pick an inpatient program if you know you’ll be unable to stop using with the temptations of your current environment.

If you’re ready to move forward in a program that’s right for your, call 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? to have someone walk you through the various types of treatment you may pick from to get started on the path to a happy, healthy life.

What Happens Once I Finish Rehab?

The process of recovering from addiction is lifelong.

You are never “done recovering.” For example, you don’t leave a 90-day program and leave your efforts behind. You will need ongoing support to maintain sobriety. This support may come in the form of:

Make sure you discuss aftercare with your treatment provider you choose, so that you understand how to continue your efforts and stay sober in the long-term.

Get Help Now

Research shows that when addicts devote an adequate length of time for addiction treatment, they can often successfully recover.

If you are ready to begin your process of recovery today, a treatment support specialist can help you find a treatment plan. A simple phone call to 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? can help you beat your addiction.


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