The length of time someone stays in an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment facility (or attends an outpatient program) can range anywhere from 30 days to six months—or sometimes even as long as a full year. While most people assume a month is the standard time frame because it’s what most major insurance policies cover, it’s not necessarily the recommended maximum length. Most recovery experts would probably argue that the longer a person can remain in treatment, the more likely he or she is to maintain long-term sobriety. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Generally, for residential or outpatient treatment, participation for less than 90 days is of limited effectiveness, and treatment lasting significantly longer is recommended for maintaining positive outcomes.”
Getting physically stable, forming different habits, rewiring one’s thought patterns, and developing new coping mechanisms and tools for healthy living all take time, patience and guidance. If someone prematurely leaves the safe, structured confines of a rehab that implements all these practices, there is a higher risk of the individual relapsing and not reaping any of the benefits of treatment at all.
Factoring in Detox
Another reason why the length of treatment varies is the detox component. If a person has been consuming vast quantities of alcohol or regularly abusing drugs for an extended period of time, it’s probable he or she has developed a physical dependence so severe that it requires medically supervised detox. The process of detox is often the first important step in treatment, but certainly not the crux of programming. As such, it’s important to consider how long a person might be undergoing detox, when deciding how long the entire treatment process is going to take. Detox, after all, is just the beginning.
Detox regimens always vary depending on the individual, so there is really no way to definitively say exactly how long the process takes. The protocol for detox is based on a number of factors including how long someone has been abusing the substance and what type of substance it is, as well as their personal history, current physical condition and previous attempts to quit. Detox can last anywhere from two to three days, all the way up to two to three weeks.
The Safest Way to Detox
A safe detox under the care of a physician and nursing staff is an integral part of early abstinence from drugs and/or alcohol. One of the advantages of choosing to seek help for addiction through a luxury residential rehab is the 24/7 presence of top quality medical care. At facilities like Recovery Malibu, it’s guaranteed the client is safe, secure and comfortable through every phase of detox. The close monitoring by physicians and their support staff ensures the person undergoes detox as long as is necessary to stabilize their health and wellbeing. Detox often requires medication to help alleviate nausea, muscle soreness, anxiety and sleeplessness, among other symptoms. How long a person needs to be on these medicines is something that cannot always be determined at the onset, therefore a doctor well versed in addiction medicine knows that it’s impossible to set an exact length of time for detox.
It’s also important that the detox process isn’t rushed because the client needs to be in the best condition possible in order to have the physical and emotional energy for the rest of treatment. Therapy, exercise and holistic activities are all part of the curriculum at most high-end treatment facilities. A person who has safely detoxed is ready to make the most out of all these offerings.