For someone struggling with addiction, one of the best recovery tools is attending a drug rehab program. A drug rehab program provides a variety of different resources and therapeutic treatments, including detox, cognitive behavioral therapy, and supportive care. For many people on the road to sobriety, drug rehab programs are the first step in the recovery process.
Of course, many of those who are looking to enroll in a drug rehabilitation program generally have the same question: “How long will I be in this drug rehab program?”
In terms of program length, drug rehab programs usually fall into either short-term or long-term programs. Short-term programs tend to be approximately 28 days in length, while long-term rehab programs are between 30 and 60 days. To put this into context, let’s take a look at some different types of programs and the lengths of these programs.
Although detox treatment isn’t required in all situations, many seeking clinical care for substance use disorder will start the journey toward recovery with detoxification.
A medically-supervised detox program is often a primer for actual drug rehab programs, arguably making it the most important part of the process. Over the course of a detox, the individual overcomes many of the physical and physiological aspects of addiction; this ensures that the individual is no longer suffering from the effects of full-blown withdrawal as he or she begins participating in therapy, group sessions, and other forms of care typical of treatment programs.
While it’s often the case that a detox program lasts about a week, it’s important to note that the actual length of a detox program can vary depending on certain factors, not the least of which is the substance used. In general, there’s an “as long as it needs to take” perspective regarding the length of detox programs.
There’s generally an “as long as it needs to take” perspective regarding the length of a detox.
Let’s consider some of the most notable forms of detox to gauge what the length of a detox program might be.
The alcohol detox process can depend upon multiple factors, including how long a person has been drinking and how much alcohol he or she comes. Withdrawal symptoms can start as soon as six hours after one’s last drink and usually peak 72 hours after the last drink.
With minor alcohol withdrawal, one experiences symptoms such as tremors, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, and insomnia. Major alcohol withdrawal, known as delirium tremens (DTs), can include whole-body tremors, vomiting, hypertension, as well as visual and auditory hallucinations. It impacts your mental and nervous systems.
Withdrawal from opioids—a broad class of drugs that includes heroin and many prescription painkillers—usually starts 8 to 12 hours after the last dose, peaking approximately 72 hours later. Most symptoms of opioid withdrawal subside over a period of a week although cravings can persist much longer. In the first twenty-four hours, common symptoms include feelings of restlessness, anxiety, and inability to sleep. One’s eyes will tear up, the nose will be running, and muscles will be achy.
After the first day, the symptoms can get more intense. Diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, and rapid heartbeat. Symptoms tend to peak between 24 and 48 hours before beginning to subside around the 72nd hour. Thus, an opioid detox takes 4 to 7 days although 5 days is the most typical.
Withdrawing from a benzodiazepine (BZD) involves a tapered process instead of just going cold. If one has been ingesting BZD for longer than four weeks, the medication should be tapered off at a rate of 10% per day to control withdrawal symptoms. The exact tapering off rate depends on how long one has been taking BZD. However, considering how carefully a benzo detox must be done, the length of the actual process can vary significantly, measured either in days or, potentially, in weeks.
For cocaine, the detox process starts around 8 to 12 hours after the last dose. At this time, symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, and nausea will set in. More severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, tremors, and hallucinations are not uncommon. The entire cocaine detox process can last five to seven days.
The length of time needed to complete a detox depends on the substance, the length of time spent in active addiction, the individual’s personal medical history, and whether there have been prior instances of substance abuse. Once detox has occurred, the rest of the programming can begin.
30-Day Rehab Programs
A drug rehab program is generally considered “short-term” when it lasts 30 days or less. In other words, short-term rehab programs normally last four weeks (28 days).
A program of this length can be valuable for someone suffering from addiction who knows they need help but isn’t experiencing a severe or long-term addiction. During a 30-day program, a lot of ground is covered quickly, conveying a lot of tools and topics so the client has a blueprint for continued care after the 28-day program.
28-day programs lay solid groundwork but provide insufficient breadth and intensity for severe or long-term addiction.
The structure of the short-term rehab program can include the following:
- Addressing co-occurring mental and physical health issues
- Creating an aftercare plan
- Identifying risk factors and introducing strategies for managing those risks
- Developing relapse prevention strategies
For many individuals, a 28-day program lays solid groundwork for recovery. In fact, some might even prefer these shorter programs since they’re commonly covered by health insurance plans. On the other hand, a 28-day program is seen by treatment professionals as providing insufficient breadth and intensity of treatment for severe or long-term addictions.
60-Day Rehab Programs
In a 60-day rehab program, the client will have more time to deal with the lingering psychological effects of addiction.
Individuals enrolled in 60-day programs have more time to participate in counseling sessions where they can discuss family, mental health, and situational factors that may have contributed to one’s addictive conduct. There’s also more opportunities to learn and apply relapse prevention strategies, including safe behaviors and coping techniques to deal with environmental triggers and cues upon leaving rehab. It provides one with a longer time in a structured environment.
Insurance companies often pay for a portion of 60-day programs. For those that aren’t covered, the rehab centers often offer flexible payment plans to cover the remaining balance.
90-Day Rehab Programs
Though it may seem excessively long, 90-day programs are an ideal recovery situation because there’s ample time allotted to all forms of relevant care.
During a 90-day program, the client is better able to adjust to life without drugs and alcohol and experience life free of addiction, and to heal fully.
In a 90-day program, there’s time for extensive counseling during which underlying issues can be identified and addressed. The counseling sessions provide essential strategies to help prevent relapse upon the end of the treatment program.
Although shorter programs can be effective for some, 90-day programs are recommended for individuals with long-term or severe addictions. In fact, research shows that at least 3 months of treatment are needed to achieve the best long-term outcomes.
A rehab program is just the start of a life of sober living. After rehab, one may transition to a sober living home, outpatient care, support groups, and continued counseling. The thing to remember is that maintaining sobriety is a lifelong effort and rehab is only the first step.
Need help finding treatment for you or your loved one? At Silicon Beach Behavioral Health, we can help you choose a drug rehab program that works for your need. Give us a call at our toll-free number and start getting your life back.