Although there is no exact length for drug addiction treatment that works for everyone, studies have shown that a good treatment outcome absolutely depends upon the individual receiving an adequate length of treatment. Leaving treatment too soon puts you at risk of relapse, and in general, 90-day rehab programs are advisable for most patients. Less is usually not enough, and sometimes treatment lasting significantly longer will provide the best chance of patient success. A study from the Archives of General Psychiatry found that 35% of cocaine users who received 90 days or less of treatment reported using drugs the following year, in comparison to only 17% of users who received 90 or more days of treatment. A research study funded by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that people who were in drug addiction treatment for over 90 days were 22% to 43% more likely to be employed the year after being discharged than people who attended less than 90-day rehab programs.
90 Day Rehab Programs are the Gold Standard in Drug Addiction Treatment
Multiple studies have shown that longer stays at drug addiction treatment centers significantly reduce rates of rehospitalization. Less than 90 days is considered to be of limited effectiveness, and for methadone maintenance, a year is considered the minimum length, with some patients continuing to benefit from even longer treatment durations. One of the biggest obstacles to patients getting adequate treatment is the prevalence of dropout. Motivational techniques that keep patients engaged in treatment are therefore crucial. Drug addiction is a chronic disease that requires continued care and monitoring, and sometimes even multiple instances of treatment for patients who relapse.
Drug addiction treatment is a complex undertaking, involving a range of therapies. Early on, medications to manage withdrawal symptoms may be needed to get patients through the acute detox phase of treatment, or longer in the case of opiate addiction. A 2014 SAMHSA study found that medications were used in 80% of detoxifications at drug addiction treatment centers. Detoxification is only the first step of drug addiction treatment, although it is an important one. Patients need to quit using drugs to give them the mental clarity to address the many issues that have been fuelling their continued drug use, and they may need medications to stabilize brain chemistry and decrease intense drug cravings.
After detox, drug addiction treatment must be continued for a lasting recovery. Not only do individuals need to stop using drugs and remain drug free, they need to find ways to be productive in their personal lives, at work, and in their communities. Treatment success is dependent upon the individual building a life that allows them to more easily choose sobriety over drug use. This means that treatment has to address all aspects of the patient’s needs, not just their addiction behaviors. Medication, counseling, behavioral therapy, and evolving treatment plans are key, as are life skills interventions, such as vocational classes, job and housing placement, and relapse prevention. The patient’s overall health must also be addressed; drug use takes a toll on the body and brain, and you need to get physically healthy to support your mental health, and to give you the energy and stamina for applying yourself to long term treatment.
The Many Benefits of 90 Day Rehab Programs
To start with, drug addiction treatment programs of 90 days or longer give patients plenty of time to cleanse their bodies of toxic substances. There are some drugs, such as benzodiazepines, that must be very slowly tapered to avoid a potentially deadly withdrawal syndrome that results when someone quits cold turkey. Even alcohol detox may require medical treatment in the case of delirium tremens, a life-threatening alcohol withdrawal syndrome that occurs with certain heavy or long term drinkers. Symptoms of delirium tremens may not show up for seven to ten days after your last drink, so at least two weeks of close monitoring is advisable.
Detoxification from all drugs is unpleasant, and even mild withdrawal symptoms can lead to health difficulties, such as nausea that may cause an already malnourished individual to become further malnourished and dehydrated. Medical attention will keep you safe, and treatments such as medications to relieve withdrawal symptoms and prevent cravings will better ease you into recovery and prevent treatment dropout. You should be closely monitored throughout detox, and the process shouldn’t be rushed, both for health reasons, and to avoid relapse.
Longer drug addiction treatment programs also provide patients with the extended time they need to discover and heal the deep seeded reasons behind their addiction. These reasons can be physical, psychological, and even social and environmental. The key is to identify what led you to addiction and what kept you from seeking treatment until now. If you are returning to treatment after a relapse, you need to examine whether it is because you left treatment too soon, or your treatment approach needs to be adjusted. The root causes of addiction can be very complex, which means they can be more effectively addressed with a 90 day rehab program or longer.
Extended treatment programs also provide the necessary time for individuals to work with addiction treatment professionals who can help their patients identify triggers to drug use, and learn practical techniques for coping with those triggers. This process of learning and self-discovery takes time, especially for patients with a particularly severe addiction, or a particularly long history of addiction. It’s important to not be too intimidated by the thought of lengthy drug addiction treatment programs; it may turn out that you don’t need a 90 day rehab program, but if you do, try to accept that fact, so you can receive an adequate level and duration of treatment for your needs.
30 Day versus 90 Day Rehab Programs
Some drug addiction treatment centers only offer stays between 28 to 30 days. This may be an appropriate length of treatment for certain patients, but many individuals will require longer stays, which an increasing number of treatment facilities have begun to recognize. Many facilities now recommend 90 day rehab programs to most of their patients.
Progressing through the stages of detoxification, withdrawal management, and behavioral adjustments to deal with drug cravings takes time. In addition, people with substance use disorder quite often have mental health issues or physical ailments that must also be addressed during drug addiction treatment, through counseling and quality medical care. Learning techniques and strategies for relapse prevention are also key to maintaining sobriety for the long term. Addressing all of these aspects of addiction recovery in a 30 day rehab program does not allow for an in-depth approach to healing, nor does it allow time for stubborn patients to overcome any resistance to treatment that could be inhibiting their recovery progress. A 90 day rehab program gives patients a much better chance at making the changes they need to support sobriety.
On the other hand, some individuals will be unable to manage a treatment stay that continues for longer than a month due to practical considerations such as family, school, or work responsibilities. If your addiction has not been significantly impairing your day to day functioning, so that you have been able to maintain success at school or in the workplace, and if you have good family support and a safe, stable place to live, a 30 day rehab program may be an adequate level of treatment for you.
Cost is another issue to consider when it comes to the duration of your drug addiction treatment. Naturally, a 90 day rehab program will be quite a bit more expensive than a 30 day rehab program, and some insurance plans may limit their coverage to stays of 30 days or less. In these cases, patients can work with their treatment provider to determine alternate means of covering the cost of continuing on in the program to ensure that treatment does not end prematurely. Consider the higher risk of relapse with shorter treatment program durations when weighing your options. Attending several 30 day sessions of rehab due to relapse is likely to be more expensive than a single 90 day stay.
Types of Treatment: Inpatient versus Outpatient Drug Addiction Treatment
Many available 90-day drug rehab programs will be an inpatient or residential treatment settings, where patients live at the drug addiction treatment center while in the program. This allows for a 24/7 therapeutic environment and plenty of daily interaction with therapists, doctors, and fellow patients. Help from addiction professionals and from peers can be equally helpful to the recovery process. The additional structure and supervision of inpatient and residential programs provide the intensive treatment that many people with substance use disorder need to achieve and maintain sobriety for the long term. Inpatient and residential programs also remove you from the daily stressors and distractions of the outside world, which gives you the mental headspace to focus more intently on what you have to do to overcome your addiction.
You can also attend a 90 day rehab program in an outpatient treatment setting, or transition into outpatient treatment after inpatient or residential treatment. Some people undergo detox in an inpatient hospital setting to assure their physical safety, and then move on to an outpatient treatment program as soon as their condition has stabilized. Outpatient treatment may continue longer than 90 days for maximum benefit. Some people may stay inpatient for 90 days, and then move onto weeks or months of outpatient treatment. There is no one size fits all drug addiction treatment; just make sure that you listen carefully to the advice of doctors and counselors, and to your own instincts, which together will help you decide if a longer or shorter stay is right for you.
The ideal treatment combination for most patients is a blend of inpatient and outpatient treatment services, but for patients with milder addiction issues and a stable, supportive home environment, only receiving outpatient treatment may work.
Choosing the Right Treatment for You
The first step of drug addiction treatment is to match your needs to the appropriate kinds of treatment in the correct settings. Detox is best experienced in an inpatient medical facility with constant medical monitoring, especially for patients with addictions to certain substances (like benzodiazepines), with particularly severe addictions, or with acute psychiatric needs that may put the patient or others in danger if left untreated. Listen to both your instincts and the recommendations of the doctors who evaluate you, balancing out practical considerations like finances with consideration for the level of treatment you truly need.
Location is another consideration when it comes to treatment. If you are seeking an inpatient program, you are not limited to your own geographic area, since you will not need to travel home during treatment—although you may wish to be within driving distance so that your family can visit, and participate in family therapy. For outpatient programs, it is always important to choose a drug addiction treatment center that is a convenient distance away to reduce your temptation to drop out, but if you have limited options in your area, remember that the inconvenience of the drive will be well worth the benefits you receive from treatment. You can search for rehab centers by state or city using our directory. Addictions.com can also provide guidance to help you determine the best treatment facility for your situation.
Recovery is a personal experience, and finding the right drug addiction treatment center for you is important. At the same time, though, all quality treatment facilities provide customized treatment plans that are adjusted according to patient needs. This means that you can successfully achieve recovery even if the facility you end up checking into is not the absolute perfect place for you. Just keep an open mind and give yourself the chance to change.