How Long do I Have to Stay in Residential Treatment?

For many addicts considering residential treatment, their first question is often, “How long will I have to stay?” The answer to that question is a simple and straightforward: For as long as it takes.

Different Strokes

Drug treatment program lengths do vary, not only for each individual, but for each treatment facility. While a certain length of stay may be appropriate for one person, it may not work for another. Residential treatment programs provide an intensive level of care and are ideal for people who have unsuccessfully attempted to overcome addiction on their own in outpatient programs or for people who want to get it right the first time.

Residential treatment typically offers a standard fare of a 28-30 day stay. The popular Sandra Bullock movie about addiction was appropriately entitled, “28 Days.” The general wisdom is that a 28-30 day stay gives people adequate time to overcome resistance to treatment, effectively detox from drugs and alcohol, yet still provides enough space for the addict to reflect on his or her past, present and future.

Beyond the Standard

However, these standard programs may not offer enough treatment for people who have more severe addictions, or who have relapsed. When considering treatment, duration depends on many factors. To truly determine the most appropriate program, an in-depth diagnostic assessment with a qualified professional is needed. Sixty-day programs typically include the same services as thirty-day programs. That includes intake, evaluation, detox and therapy. But they also offer more time in a sober environment, as do stays of a longer duration. Budget is another consideration when determining length of stay.

Family and Friends, Inside and Out

Many residential treatment centers encourage family participation, including family education and weekend programs. In addition to immediate family, patients benefit from having a therapeutic community in residential treatment programs — a community of patients who support one another through treatment by encouraging one another to stick with the program.

Keeping Your Options Open

Other factors to consider when choosing a treatment facility include whether extended stays are available to patients who might need additional treatment. An individual may enter treatment with the intention of only staying 30 days, but realize once they are there that more time will be beneficial. Having the option to stay is ideal if that individual realizes they need additional treatment to fully complete their recovery.

When asking the question, “How long does rehab take?” an addict should consider how long rehab will take based on their own personal situation and not how long it takes other people. Recovery is highly individualized and may take more time than originally intended. As a general rule, studies show that people who spend more time in treatment have better outcomes.