How Long Is Rehab for Drug & Alcohol Abuse Treatment?

Last Updated: January 2, 2024

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

How long a person should stay in rehab will differ and depend on their unique needs, addiction severity and the treatment program they choose.

Treatment is essential for helping individuals with addictions to overcome substance misuse and return to leading a healthy, fulfilling life. When looking into treatment options, people often ask, “How long is a typical stay in rehab?” The answer is that it can differ based on your unique needs and situation. 

How Long Does It Take To Get Over Substance Addiction?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment, so the length of time you spend in a rehab program can differ. Each substance of abuse has unique effects and withdrawal symptoms, which means that the length of your treatment may depend on the substance(s) you’ve been using. People also differ in the severity of their addictions; some may have a mild substance use disorder that can be treated more quickly than a severe, chronic substance use disorder. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends people stay in treatment for at least three months to achieve the best outcomes. Beyond this, NIDA acknowledges that people do best in addiction recovery when treatment is tailored to their unique needs. 

Length of Rehab by Level of Care

In addition to the variability in rehab length based upon a person’s individual needs, the length of stay can differ according to the level of care. Addiction treatment options range from inpatient care, where patients live on-site at a treatment center, to outpatient services, which are more flexible and allow patients to live at home while attending appointments at a clinic or treatment center. 

Medical Detox 

Detox programs are intended to be short-term, as they provide medical intervention and support to people undergoing withdrawal from a substance. The specific length is based on what drug a person uses, but medical detox programs typically last from a few days to two weeks. After completing medical detox, it is important to transition into an ongoing rehab program because medical detox is only the first step in the rehab process. 

Inpatient Rehab 

As with any other level of care, the amount of time a person spends in an inpatient program will depend on their needs. One recent study with men participating in an inpatient program found that length of stay depended upon factors like age, the severity of substance use and drug choice. On average, men who had been addicted for 30 or more years stayed in treatment for 210 days, equivalent to about seven months, whereas men addicted for 10 or fewer years stayed for 180 days or six months. 

Other findings were as follows:

  • Men in treatment for alcohol and cocaine addiction stayed for about seven months, whereas men addicted to heroin stayed for a little over five months.
  • Younger men, aged 20–30, remained in treatment for around five months, compared to older men, aged 51 and above, who stayed for almost eight months, on average.
  • Black men stayed in treatment for about seven months, whereas White men had an average stay of six months. 

Outpatient Rehab 

The length of stay in outpatient treatment can also differ based on a patient’s needs. In line with the recommendations of NIDA, a recent study found that people were more likely to complete outpatient treatment if they stayed for at least three months. However, the study’s authors stated that patients fared best when they remained in outpatient treatment until they had completed their goals rather than for a specified period. 

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Partial hospitalization programs are less intensive than inpatient care but more structured than IOP. Patients enrolled in a partial hospitalization program can report to a hospital or clinic for at least 20 hours per week but return home each night. The length of a partial hospitalization program depends on a patient’s needs. Once a person’s treatment intensity requirements decrease, they can transition to a lower level of care, such as IOP or standard outpatient.

Intensive Outpatient Rehab (IOP)

IOP programs can differ in length, just like any other treatment program. IOPs of 8–12 weeks are common, but some programs may last longer or even offer clients the option to remain in treatment until they meet their goals. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that the average stay is 81 days, or about three months, for an IOP program.

Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment

Co-occurring Disorders treatment refers to treatment programs for people with a substance use disorder and a mental health condition. These programs treat both conditions simultaneously. Research shows that people diagnosed with more than one condition tend to have more severe symptoms, suggesting they may benefit from spending longer time in treatment. Since co-occurring disorders treatment addresses mental health conditions and substance misuse, programs may need to last longer to address both conditions adequately. 

Medication-assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment is often long-term. In fact, some people stay in medication-assisted treatment for years. Medications used in substance use disorder treatment are safe to use for a lifetime, and people should take them for as long as necessary to help them stay in recovery. 

Teletherapy 

Teletherapy programs tend to be more flexible, allowing you to schedule appointments at times that fit your lifestyle. If teletherapy is an option, you can meet virtually with a therapist from the comfort of your home, using technology like webcams and Internet chats. You will need to consult with your specific teletherapy provider to determine the length and intensity of treatment sessions. 

You might participate in a virtual outpatient program that provides weekly counseling until you meet your goals. Some teletherapy services are more structured and intensive, providing programs that last a specific time, such as 12 weeks. In many cases, teletherapy programs will use a customized approach that meets your unique needs. 

Factors Affecting Length of Rehab Programs

There is no single, universal answer to the question, “How long is rehab for drugs?” The length of stay in a treatment program will differ based on each patient’s needs and the treatment center they select. The following factors can affect how long rehab is:

  • Addiction Severity: People using drugs for longer periods or who have a more severe addiction may need to stay in rehab longer to achieve stability and address the areas of life affected by substance misuse.
  • Type of Treatment Center: The treatment center you select may have pre-determined program lengths, such as three, six or nine months. Some facilities are less specific and will determine your length of stay based on when you meet your treatment goals. 
  • Personal Preference: Ideally, your rehab center will consider your needs and preferences when creating your treatment plan. This means you may play a role in deciding your treatment length. For example, you may determine you are ready to withdraw from treatment after a certain time or that you need to stay a little longer to meet your goals. 
  • Finances: Realistically, you must determine what you can afford when selecting a rehab program. Sometimes, insurance companies may only pay for a certain number of visits or cover inpatient stays of a particular length, such as 28 days. 

Benefits of Long-term Rehab Programs

Regardless of your specific needs, NIDA generally recommends people stay in treatment for at least three months, and you may have even better outcomes if you remain longer. Some benefits of long-term rehab, lasting three months or longer, include:

  • You’ll have more time to address the multiple areas of life affected by addiction, such as mental health, family, career and finances.
  • You’ll have ongoing access to sources of support to reduce your risk of relapse. 
  • If you enroll in long-term inpatient rehab, you’ll have less time for drug use triggers (like people you used with), so you can focus on your recovery. 

FAQ on Length of Rehab

How Long Is Court-ordered Rehab? 

Court-ordered rehab can differ in length based on where you live and the policies of your court. Some courts may order you to stay in treatment for a specific time, whereas others may stipulate that you must remain in treatment until your treatment center determines you met your goals. 

How Long Is Rehab for Alcohol? 

The length of alcohol rehab will depend on your unique needs. One study found that men stayed in alcohol rehab for about seven months, but treatment times can differ from this. 

How Long Is Rehab for Drugs? 

The drug rehab length will vary based on your drug of choice and the severity of your addiction. Research has shown that the time spent in rehab is longer for some substances than others, but your individual experience can differ.

How Long Is Long-term Rehab?

Long-term rehab lasts at least three months. Some people may spend six months, or even a year, in a long-term rehab program. 

What Is the Shortest Rehab?

Some rehab centers may provide short stays, such as 28 days or less, but experts recommend people spend at least three months in treatment overall.

Insurance and Payment Options for Rehab

Rehab comes with a cost, but fortunately, many insurance programs cover some or all of the expenses associated with your treatment, so you will not foot the entire bill on your own. Insurance plans may limit your stay in rehab, so verifying your benefits with your insurance company is important to know what your plan covers. 

Some treatment centers offer payment plans or income-based fees for those without insurance to make rehab more affordable. You can reach out to your treatment center to discuss payment options. 

How To Find Substance Abuse Rehab in South Jersey

If you’re searching for rehab in the New Jersey area, The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper is here to help. We’re located conveniently in the South Jersey area, just 30 minutes from the Philadelphia International Airport. We offer a full range of treatment options, including a state-of-the-art inpatient and medical detox facility equipped with a fitness center, entertainment lounges and a yoga room. We also offer a range of outpatient options so you can step down to a lower level of care after inpatient treatment. 

Contact us today to learn more about our service offerings or to begin the admissions process

Sources

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatmen[…]Third Edition).” September 18, 2020. Accessed September 9, 2022.

Lashley, M. “The impact of length of stay on recovery[…]treatment.” Public Health Nursing, 2018. Accessed September 9, 2022.

Mennis, J.; Stahler, G.J.; El Magd, S.; Baron, D.A. “How long does it take to complete outpat[…]tes in the US.” Addictive Behaviors, June 2019. Accessed September 9, 2022.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “CLINICAL ISSUES IN INTENSIVE OUTPATIE[…]USE DISORDERS.” Accessed September 9, 2022.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)”>[…]eatment (MAT).” July 25, 2022. Accessed September 9, 2022.

Padwa, Howard; Guerrero, E.G.; Braslow, J.T.; Fenwick, K.M. “Barriers to Serving Clients With Co-occu[…]Health System.” Psychiatric Services, May 2015. Accessed September 10, 2022.

Medicaid.gov. “Overview of Substance Use Disorder (SUD)[…]l Guidelines:

A Resource for States Developing SUD Del[…]stem Reforms.” April 2017. Accessed September 10, 2022.

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