How Long Should Someone Stay in Rehab?

The CDC states that more than 100 people die from drug-related overdoses every day, while a further 6,000 plus are admitted to ERs across the control because of drugs. In the U.S., drug overdoses are the number one leading cause of injury-related deaths.

Even though drug addiction and its associated problems have become so prevalent in the U.S., 90% of people who struggle with drug addiction do not seek treatment. But studies have found that people who attend detox and rehab have much better chances of achieving and maintaining sobriety than those who do not.

For people who want to get clean, they may be concerned about external barriers and paying for treatment, or they may be worried about attending rehab because they’re afraid of experiencing painful withdrawal symptoms. The length of stay in a rehab center can be difficult for a person and their doctors to determine, too. Many factors can influence the detox and rehab timeline, including the severity of addiction, the presence of a dual diagnosis, and familial or career responsibilities that can hinder a person’s ability to attend.

What exactly is “rehab”?

The term “rehab” can be confusing and mean several different things to different people. Technically, there is no standard definition of rehab. The lack of standard definitions for what rehab is is one of the reasons why it is difficult to pin down success and relapse rates definitively. But for the purposes of this article, rehab will be defined as medical detox, and inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Most inpatient rehab centers offer stays in intervals of one month, three months, six months, or nine months. In some instances, patients can receive extended care options where they can attend an inpatient facility for up to a year. Many internal and external factors can influence how long a person stays in rehab.

What internal factors can influence the rehab timeline?

The timeline for how long someone is in rehab is different for every single person who seeks treatment for addiction. Although addiction is an unfortunately common disease, it is as varied and unique as the people who suffer from it. Different drugs affect people in different ways, and many rehab patients enter a facility addicted to more than one drug or substance at the same time.

Also, a surprising number of Americans with mental health disorders also have a co-occurring addiction to drugs or alcohol. 7.9 million people who experience substance use disorder also have a mental health condition, and more than half of those people are men.

For many with dual diagnosis disorders, it can be difficult for healthcare and addiction counselors to determine if a person suffered from the mental health condition before they became addicted, or a drug triggered a mental health disorder. In many cases, people with co-occurring mental health conditions turned to drugs or alcohol to alleviate or numb their symptoms.

It is imperative that people who enter rehab are thoroughly evaluated for a mental health disorder. Failing to treat both conditions in tandem with integrated modalities can increase the chances of relapse for either condition. The need to address a co-occurring mental health disorder can also increase the length of time a person will need to stay in an inpatient facility or attend outpatient rehab.

Another factor influencing the length of time a person may need to stay in rehab is if they are a polydrug abuser. Polydrug abuse refers to having an addition to more than one substance simultaneously. This can significantly impact how long it will take a person to detox. Drugs and alcohol are toxic to the body, and they can stay in a person’s system for weeks or months after cessation. The more drugs a person has taken, the longer it typically takes their body to cleanse itself of lingering, toxic substances.

During detox, a person will experience a variety of physical and mental withdrawal symptoms, which can vary in intensity and duration. Medical detox centers can give patients medications to help them safely wean from drugs, and these safe medications can also shorten the length and severity of the withdrawal timeline.

Once a person safely and completely detoxes from drugs, they can stay in either an inpatient or outpatient treatment center. Inpatient treatment takes place in a secure, long-term living facility, and is designed to help patients learn their triggers for drug abuse, and how to create better systems and barriers in their lives to avoid drugs and alcohol in the future.

What are some common external factors that can influence how long someone stays in rehab?

For many drug addiction patients, they may have familial or job responsibilities to uphold. Staying for months at a time in an inpatient treatment facility may not be feasible for their personal situation, even if it is medically ideal. Women especially face childcare and other caregiving-related obstacles to attending inpatient rehab.

Outpatient rehab programs give patients the ability to continue working or caring for minor children or elderly relatives while still receiving urgent treatment for their addiction disorder. Patients must attend scheduled therapy sessions in outpatient rehab. While outpatient is not ideal for severe cases of addiction, it is better than no treatment at all.

When is someone ready to leave rehab?

This is always up to the patient and their team of doctors, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the rehab timeline. After a person leaves inpatient rehab or completes outpatient rehab, their doctors and therapists will create an ongoing maintenance plan for them. These plans are customized to the patient’s needs and circumstances, and often include pre-scheduled group and one-on-one therapy, career rehabilitation, 12-step programs, and more to help keep the patient from relapsing.

Are you or someone you love trying to get clean from drugs or alcohol? The caring and experienced addiction counselors at Windward Way have helped hundreds of people beat their addiction and maintain sobriety with customized treatment plans.  Please contact the representatives at Windward Way to explore your options for detox and rehab.