How Long does Drug Rehab Take?

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  • Written By: S. Mithra
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2018
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Drug rehab programs vary in length, depending on the available resources, cooperation of the addict, and the length of the addiction. An introductory procedure, detox, can last as little as three days, while 12-step programs demand a lifetime commitment to attending meetings. A general rule is that it takes as long as it takes, which varies wildly from person to person. One addict may only need a family member to point out their addiction in the early stages, while another may need a year of living in a residential facility.

The fastest type of rehab lasts as long as it takes for the drug or alcohol to physically leave the body. In a medical setting, where medical professionals can oversee and manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, a person detoxifies their system. For alcohol, this is as little as a few days. For drugs like heroin or methamphetamine, this can require a week. Usually, detox is only the first step in a more cumulative drug rehab plan.


A short-term residency program usually provides treatment for a set amount of time. This way, an addict commits to living in an inpatient center for 30, 60, or 90 days, at which time he or she is discharged. During this period, the individual learns about different aspects of addiction, such as interpersonal relationships or stress management. These programs may be covered by insurance up to a certain amount of time, usually only a month, and this is frequently what decides how long they last. Rehab has a better rate of success when an addict receives support for three to six months in a structured, drug-free setting, during which the addict has enough time to address employment, housing, patterns of addiction, or mental illness.

Long-term housing in a communal, semi-structured environment can last longer than a residency, possibly for nine months or a year. This is a good choice for those addicts who have been repeatedly incarcerated on drug charges, have difficulty keeping a job or housing, or are in danger of becoming homeless or re-incarcerated. Usually, community housing, sometimes known as halfway housing, does not include individual therapy, but instead allows an addict to transition to independent living by sharing household duties, teaching job skills, forging friendships, and offering group therapy. Whatever the time-scale, drug rehab should be treated as a challenge that lasts the rest of the addict's life.


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Post 5

The earlier parents come to terms with their children being addicts, the faster and more successful adolescent drug rehab will be. A lot of time is lost because parents don't want to accept that their children have a drug problem.

Post 4

@fBoyle-- How long was he an addict when he started rehab?

The longer someone is addicted, the longer rehab usually takes. I also don't think that this is a problem that can be resolved in a few months. Former addicts need continued support for years after being drug-free.

But they cannot be kept in facilities for this entire time. Communal housing or residential drug rehab is a much better idea. Such places are often run by addicts who succeeded in freeing themselves from drugs and can provide the kind of emotional support these individuals need. Not having to hold up a job is also great for them.

I think realistically, the minimum rehab time is 1-3 years depending on the individual.

Post 3

I don't think ninety days in an inpatient center is enough for drug rehab.

My friend's son was in a drug rehab facility and left after three months. He seemed to be all better and clean. In just a few months, he was back on drugs and worse than before.

Post 2

@cmsmith10: I completely agree with you. I am a former drug addict. The first rehab that I went to was a 21 day program. I completed it and thought that I was cured. It was only a couple of months before I used again. I don't feel as though I had enough education on recovery in the 21 days.

The second rehab that I went to was seven months long. It provided drug education, extensive counseling, daily AA/NA classes, meditation, self-image help, and much more. During that seven months I became a different person. I learned how to change myself. I was given the tools that I needed to go out into the world and not use drugs. I have been clean for 3 years and I owe it all to the 7 months that I spent in rehab.

Post 1

There is no set time that drug rehab lasts. It depends on the person and their willingness to overcome their addiction. It also depends on the severity of their addiction. I personally do not think that short-term rehab programs are beneficial. When I say short-time, I am referring to a 10-21 day program. This is only enough time to detox.

To rehabilitate the addict, there is so much more than just detox. There needs to be counseling, education, and support. Statistics have shown that 85% of addicts who completed a short-term rehab program used drugs again. The number was much less for long-term programs.

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