Length of stay is often an issue that patients attempt to address at the beginning of addiction treatment. Unfortunately, it’s not a question that can always be accurately answered early on. Most patients start by signing up for a standard 30-day program and then adjust that as needed, according to how their personal timeline of growth in recovery unfolds. For many, 30 days is just the first step in a program that lasts months or even years.
Why is a 30-day program common in residential treatment? It can offer enough time to get the patient through the physical withdrawal symptoms related to detox, as well as time to begin the process of:
- Establishing relapse prevention techniques
- Addressing co-occurring mental health issues
- Defining a course of treatment and aftercare going forward
- Working on family issues
- Identifying and treating underlying medical issues, behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, and day-to-day difficulties that may obstruct the path to recovery
When It’s Time to Go
Why isn’t 30 days enough time for everyone to effectively heal and return home to their new life of sobriety? Everyone is different. Though almost all patients will have cleared their withdrawal symptoms in this time, not everyone will make the same amount of emotional and psychological progress. Some will have only just begun to address deep-seated trauma or long-term abuse issues. Still others may not feel safe in the idea of returning to the real world with minimal or no support and the expectation of remaining relapse-free.
It’s important that patients who are not ready to leave rehab do not force themselves to do so if it is beyond their comfort level. Though most patients may feel a little bit nervous about their ability to maintain sobriety upon their return home, patients who are clearly in need of more time in intensive treatment can set themselves up for failure if they attempt to leave treatment before they are ready. In these cases, a return to active addiction and/or overdose, especially fatal overdose, are real risks.
For those who are not yet ready to go home but feel that the comprehensive care that defines residential treatment is no longer necessary, there are intermediate options. These include:
- Sober living homes. These provide homes that are safe, sober environments for residents. No one under the influence is allowed to live in the home, nor are friends or family member allowed to bring drugs or alcohol into the house or be under the influence when they visit. Most sober living homes do not offer directed addiction treatment but instead require residents to find employment, remain actively engaged with their recovery, address legal issues, and/ or take an active role in maintaining the house through chores and meal preparation.
- Intensive outpatient treatment. During the day, patients attend a rigorous schedule of therapeutic treatments that address their ongoing needs in recovery. At night, they return to a sober living home or to their own home, allowing a step-down process that provides for a slower return to living on one’s own after rehab.
- Outpatient treatment services. Patients can choose a few treatments to pursue on a less intensive basis – perhaps one to two sessions a week – and direct the rest of their energy on restarting life in recovery.
You can discuss how long your loved one should enroll in recovery and find out more about flexibility in altering this timeline as needed when you contact us at the phone number listed above.
Further Reading About How Long Should You Stay in Rehab?
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David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.