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How Long Do I Need to be in Rehab?



As an independent addiction and recovery referral service, we often field questions about how long rehab takes. People want to know what the time commitment is so they can make decisions accordingly. Unfortunately, there is no straight answer for every situation.

The time it takes to complete a successful rehab programme depends on number of important factors like:

  • the seriousness of the addiction

  • how long the addiction has existed

  • the substance or behaviour involved

  • the commitment of the addict

  • the type of treatment sought after.

We’ll attempt to give you some guidelines here relating to the amount of time you can expect. However, please understand that time really isn’t the issue. Helping an individual overcome addiction, once and for all, is all that really matters.

Seriousness of the Addiction

There is a very fine line between abuse and addiction. Someone who is abusing drugs or alcohol, for example, has not yet reached the place where he/she cannot exist outside of it. When that transition is finally made, the addiction may be new enough that the individual can overcome through a combination of detox and outpatient counselling.

In such cases, it is possible to completely rehab in under a month. Detox itself only takes about seven days; the outpatient counselling that follows could be completed in two or three weeks.

As for the chronic, long-term addict, the prognosis is not so favourable. Chronic addicts typically require inpatient treatment that takes much longer. Inpatient treatment involves living in a residential facility for a predetermined amount of time, followed by extensive aftercare.

Residential inpatient programmes vary in length depending on facility and the treatments they employ. As a general rule, you can expect a programme to last no less than about three weeks. Most programmes run between 6 and 12 weeks under normal circumstances. It is possible to exceed 12 weeks if a case is especially difficult.

Following a residential treatment programme is something known as aftercare. This third phase could last anywhere between 3 and 12 months. It consists of continued counselling and group support.

Different Substances

Another important factor in the length of time recovery takes has to do with the various substances people abuse. Some substances have a larger impact on physical dependence, while others lean more to psychological dependence.

A good example of this is illustrated in the differences between marijuana and cocaine. Although marijuana does have some very measurable physical effects, they are not nearly as devastating as the physical damage done by long-term cocaine use. This typically means the cannabis addict will be able to complete rehab more quickly than a cocaine addict will.

The worst-case scenario is the addict who is using multiple substances; substances like alcohol, cannabis, and heroin. Cheap prices on all three actually make this co-dependent addiction more common than most of us know. Yet this triple addiction is one of the most difficult and time-consuming to conquer.

The Commitment Factor

It has been said that nothing influences the outcome of rehab more than the commitment of the addict. That sounds reasonable, does it not? If an addict truly doesn’t want to be helped, no amount of treatment will likely change that.

If you are currently struggling with abuse or addiction problems, consider the following as they relate to your commitment:

  • Seeking Help – No one can really help you recover until you want to be helped. The first thing you need to do is commit to seeking treatment of some sort, whether it be inpatient or outpatient.

  • Attendance – More than one addict has enrolled in a treatment programme and never shown up. Then there is the group that shows up sporadically, always influenced by the weather or other circumstances that might make attending inconvenient. You cannot be helped if you do not attend.

  • Attitude – An often overlooked aspect of commitment is attitude. In other words, how you approach rehabilitation goes a long way toward determining your overall success. If you are reluctant or begrudging, you will find rehab more difficult. However, if you are willing and enthusiastic, you’ll do just fine.

  • Openness – A willingness to be open about one’s problems is another part of commitment. Are you willing to honestly admit the state of your life if that’s what it takes? Are you willing to face potential embarrassment, discomfort, and confrontation in order to come clean? Openness and willingness make rehab a lot easier.

Different Types of Treatments

If you’ve done any research into drug or alcohol rehab, you know there are plenty of options to choose from. Between counselling, group support, outpatient programmes, and residential treatment, it all may seem a bit overwhelming. Allow us to break it down for you:

  • Counselling – Counselling can be offered as a standalone treatment or part of a more comprehensive programme. Counselling helps the addict uncover deep-rooted issues while also developing strategies to withstand future temptations.

  • Group Support – A support group setting enables the addict to participate in recovery in a less intimidating environment. It involves a group of individuals all working through the same addiction issues. Group support often involves counselling, group accountability, and shared recreational activities.

  • Outpatient Programmes – Facilities offering outpatient programmes may provide any combination of detox, counselling, maintenance medications, and group support. Outpatient programmes are offered by the NHS and specific charities.

  • Inpatient Programmes – An inpatient programme offers the most comprehensive treatment at a residential facility operated by a private entity. Inpatient programmes enjoy the greatest success rates because of their thoroughness.

Completing a drug or alcohol rehab programme can take anywhere from a week to a year. However, compared to the toll addiction takes on its victims, is the length of time very important? Probably not.

If you are willing to do whatever it takes to help yourself or someone you love once and for all, you already have the beginnings of the right attitude and motivation. Now it’s time to look into treatment options. When you call us, we will walk you through each of the options before making our recommendations. We can even help make admission arrangements if you want us to.

The road to successful rehab begins right now. Call us or send an e-mail; one of our fully trained and compassionate representatives is waiting to hear from you. Rest assured we would immediately get working on your case.

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