The length of alcohol and drug addiction treatment programs varies significantly from person to person, depending on a number of factors including individual circumstances.
There are, however, general guidelines for how long addiction treatment lasts at standard levels of care.
For instance, outpatient programs usually last between six and 12 weeks, while inpatient treatment can range from several weeks to a year or longer.
However, the type of drug used, the severity of the addiction, the physical and mental health of the person seeking treatment, and many other factors can influence the length of treatment.
Levels Of Care In Addiction Treatment
The best way to get an estimate of how long treatment of a substance use disorder (SUD) will last is by knowing the severity of the SUD and thus the level of care required.
More severe addictions require more intensive treatment, such as programs provided by residential treatment centers, while milder addictions may only require an outpatient level of care.
Standard Outpatient Programs
Standard outpatient treatment plans provide the most flexible, least intensive care option. Like all outpatient care, outpatient treatment for addiction allows clients to remain living at home.
Clients of standard outpatient programs are only required to attend sessions two to four times per week, totalling less than nine hours.
Outpatient programs often consist of counseling, individual and group therapy, drug and alcohol abuse education, mental health treatment, and more, usually lasting between six and 12 weeks.
Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
The next step up, intensive outpatient programs (IOP) require at least nine hours of treatment sessions per week, with many programs offering evening or weekend sessions for flexibility.
Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)
PHP is the most intensive level of outpatient treatment and is often referred to as day treatment due to a treatment schedule that may last most of the day.
Clients are typically required to participate in three to five treatment sessions per week, with sessions lasting between five and six hours, for 15 to 30 hours of treatment weekly.
Inpatient & Residential Treatment
More intensive than outpatient care, inpatient treatment programs require clients to stay onsite for the duration of the program and can be divided into two main groups.
Inpatient care is often provided in hospital and other clinical settings, while residential treatment programs involve sober living housing on rehab center campuses.
In addition to behavioral approaches, inpatient rehab programs often offer medical detox, addressing withdrawal symptoms through 24/7 medical supervision and possibly medications.
Residential drug rehab programs may involve a broader range of treatment approaches, such as holistic, experiential, and faith-based services, and don’t always offer medical services.
Short-term residential treatment programs typically last 90 days, while long-term programs may last a year or more.
Drug or alcohol detoxification may be required before a person begins an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
Detox services are provided by detox centers as well as some inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities.
These services are necessary for severe addictions and incorporate withdrawal symptom management, such as medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
Aftercare & Ongoing Support
Addiction healthcare at reputable facilities often ends with aftercare programs, or ongoing support for long-term sobriety.
Aftercare options may include:
- ongoing family therapy
- peer support groups
- individual therapy sessions for ongoing mental health issues
- drug use education
- participation in 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
- relapse prevention planning
- alumni programs
Aftercare equips clients with the tools and other support they need to stay sober and remain motivated to abstain from drugs and alcohol.
Other Factors That Influence The Duration Of Treatment
There are numerous other factors besides the severity of the addiction that can affect the length of time that a rehab program lasts.
The type of drug that was used is one example, as some drugs are more addictive than others and have more difficult withdrawal symptoms.
The person’s health is also taken into account, both physical and mental, as well as their response to treatment, how motivated they are to achieve sobriety, and any relapses they’ve experienced.
Get On The Path To Addiction Recovery Today
If you or a loved one is experiencing an SUD, contact AddictionResource.net today to discuss what treatment options are available.
Published on September 22, 2023
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH) — Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — National Helpline