The recommended length or duration of addiction treatment in rehab is contingent on the type, and degree of the individual’s substance abuse problem, including the existence of other factors such as co-occurring mental health disorders, their financial situation, and how committed the individual is with the treatment program as they progress in their recovery. Some research studies indicate that most people in recovery require at least 90 days in treatment to successfully achieve long-term sobriety, as it is more effective in teaching the person how to maintain their recovery after leaving rehab. A shorter duration of treatment is often found in outpatient rehab programs, while a longer duration of treatment is placed in residential/inpatient rehab programs.
Many of the skills learned in addiction rehabs, such as ways to reduce cravings, avoid triggers, and manage habits/behaviors (cognitive behavioral therapy), are aimed at helping the individual use these skills for the rest of their life, so it’s important that the person has enough time to establish these principles concretely in their everyday life; after all, addiction is a relapsing disease that essentially requires a re-teaching of healthy habits and behaviors.
It is becoming more widely accepted that (especially) in severe cases of drug addiction, such as heroin or prescription painkiller addiction, that rehab is a long-term process that requires comprehensive and integrated addiction treatment, as well as support from family and friends of the recovering addict; short term outpatient treatment will often fall short from fully helping the individual learn the skills needed to stay clean and not fall into addiction again. However, despite the fact that one of the main goals of rehab is to prevent relapse and end drug use, relapse is often a crucial aspect of recovery and sometimes an expectation. It doesn’t mean the individual has failed, but rather that he or she must continue with the addiction treatment process and seek improvement, which may require extensive time in rehab.
It is important for individual addiction treatment to be modified as needed to meet the changing needs of the client. It is common for individuals to require different combinations of services during the course of the rehab program. A ‘continuing care’ approach is recommended in such a case, where treatment level can be adapted by the person as they progress through their rehab program; if they relapse, which is sometimes a part of recovery, then they can continue with treatment as recommended by the head addiction specialist, where modifications can be made such as stricter monitoring to better prevent relapse.
Addiction patients may need different things over the course of the program, such as drug monitoring, daycare, transportation, and other special living conditions that can be met in order for them to adapt comfortably (and suitably) to their new environment or schedule—whether it’s outpatient or inpatient. That is why many effective addiction treatment centers do not follow the principle of “one-size fits all,” as every individual has his or her own set of circumstances to manage, whether it’s kids, work, physical disability, or other personal issues. The best drug and alcohol addiction recovery programs involve a combination of therapies and other services to meet the patient’s needs, respectively, subject to change for adaptive purposes, such as child care, vocational services, family services, among others.