Narcotics rehabilitation: How long?

How long does the average narcotic rehab stay last? Is a 30, 60, or 90 day stay preferred? We answer here.

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Recovery is a journey

Narcotics rehabilitation programs are developed and used within drug treatment facilities. Their main goal is to guide people towards a sober and drug-free life. How long should rehab last? Before we answer your question we hope that you keep this in mind: The rehabilitation process is a journey, not a short term goal.

Learn more about the duration of different rehab programs in this article. If you still have questions after reading, we welcome you to message us in the designated section at the end of the page. We try to answer all real life questions personally and promptly!

Rehab: How long does it take?

It really depends!

An individual’s needs will vary from person to person. Just as no addiction story is the same, so it follows that the recovery process will be different. Each person will respond to different therapy approaches and their duration…well, differently.

Nonetheless, the following factors play a role in how long your rehab stay should be:

  • The duration of your drug abuse, as well as frequency and amounts used
  • The type of narcotic you are using/addicted to
  • Your history of drug use, addiction and drug dependency
  • Your individual psychological profile

Generally, the longer the stay in a residential facility is, the more time you have to think, process, and work on recovery. You’ll be able to get to the root of the many aspects of your thought patterns that contribute to narcotic addiction. You’ll also benefit from 24-7 supervision and an environment that is apart from every day stress and triggers.

But what does common practice dictate?

Usually, a 90 day inpatient rehab programs report higher rates of success than a 30 or 60 day stay, especially for more severe cases of narcotic addiction. Clinicians prefer the 3 month treatment cycle because it really gives people a chance at a new beginning. You can focus on the inner work of treatment only after you have a balanced brain. But the body only starts to even out in the weeks and months after detox…it can take 6-12 months (or longer) for protracted symptoms to resolve.  So why rush your stay in rehab when you have a better chance of achieving sobriety by staying longer?

In the least severe cases of drug dependence, rehab programs usually last for 30 days. This is the normalized “minimum duration of stay” possible. On the other hand, the maximum length of narcotic rehabilitation programs is not fixed and depends on the patient’s decision and needs. Some stays in treatment last 6-9 months, or even up to a year.

Synopsis of treatment programs and their lengths

1. INPATIENT REHAB – These types of rehab programs include a stay in a residential treatment facility for a certain period of time, usually 30-60-or-90 days. A person usually stays in an inpatient rehab facility until they are able to continue to live and function normal without using narcotics. Inpatient treatment rehabilitation stages of treatment include:

STAGE 1 Administration and Evaluation – The first thing a medical staff does when an addicted person starts therapy is to identify the type of care the patient needs. This is done through a series of physical and psychological tests.

STAGE 2 Narcotic Detox – Detoxification is the process of removing narcotic drugs from your system. Medical detox can last from 7-10 days and be addressed with prescription medications to ease intensity of symptoms.

STAGE 3 Addiction Treatment – Once narcotics have been removed from your body, you can start the work of treatment. Evidence-based addiction treatment includes a combination of psychotherapy and medication assisted treatment (usually the prescription of methadone or buprenorphine).You’ll attend group and individual therapy, behavioral and educational sessions, psychotherapy, and support group meetings.

STAGE 4 Aftercare – When you finish a residential stay you should know that you are not done working on your addiction recovery. Aftercare programs include a plan to help you maintain a drug-free life and can include sober housing, ongoing counseling, and alumni support groups.

Q: But how long do inpatient narcotic rehabilitation programs last?
A: From 30 days, 60 days, and up to 90 days or more.

28-30 DAYS – Keep in mind that although 28-30 day programs can be less expensive, they are usually not recommended for heavier cases of drug dependencies.

60 DAYS – 60 day programs help deepen the recovery process and assist individuals in adjusting to the drug-free period. These programs can also help establish trust with the medical staff of the treatment center and build a network support.

90 DAYS – 90 day programs have shown higher success rates in cases of severe addiction and are most recommended by medical and addiction experts. During the 90 days of a rehab stay, the patient has enough time to work on the root causes that lead to the addiction problem in the first place. These programs have been most successful in helping individuals achieve prolonged sobriety and live a drug-free life.

2. OUTPATIENT TREATMENT – Outpatient programs generally last from 12-16 weeks, but can continue for 1-2 years after initial inpatient treatment. Outpatien treatment includes therapy sessions at a treatment facility during the day or evenings, but let you return home at night. Outpatient treatment usually takes place about 3-5 times weekly, and each session can last for 4 to 6 hours. They are scheduled around work, school, and home duties, to allow participants to continue with their normal life-flow while attending treatment.

This type of narcotic rehabilitation is not recommended for everyone, because the daily distractions can have a negative effect on patients with more serious narcotic addiction problems. Furthermore, intensive medical and psychiatric care is usually not available in an outpatient treatment setting.

Rehab: short term vs. long term

Basically, the longer your program lasts the more likely you are to incorporate many of the treatment steps. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, rehabilitation programs of at least 90 days or longer are needed to give an addicted person enough time to recover.

Further, residential treatments are preferred to outpatient treatment in cases of extreme narcotic dependence. In severe narcotic dependencies there is a intensive need for psychological treatment and medical treatment within a medically supervised facility.

Duration of narcotics rehabilitation

Still have questions about how long a person should stay in narcotic rehab treatment? Please post your questions in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to respond to all comments personally and promptly.

Reference sources: NIDA: DrugFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction
NIDA: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)
SAMHSA Tip 45: Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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