How Long Should I Stay in a Drug Recovery Program?

If you have been thinking about entering drug rehab, you probably also are wondering how long the treatment will last. The length of time you take part in recovery will depend on your specific addiction and your medical and psychological treatment needs. 

You have several factors to consider when you decide to enter a recovery program that is designed to set you free from drugs or alcohol. These factors include the length of withdrawal, the type of counseling or behavioral therapy you need, and your chances for a relapse.

Making a Commitment to Drug Recovery

Entering a drug recovery program is not a cut-and-dried process. It must be tailored to you individually. You have to consider the length and severity of your addiction, your daily obligations with respect to work and family, and if you may need to live in a transitional residence before you finally return home.

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According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the amount of time a person spends in a recovery center directly influences his or her rehabilitation. Usually, experts suggest that substance abuse patients stay in a recovery program or facility for at least 90 days. However, that is not a “magic” number. Everyone is different. 

What you have to remember is that recovery is often progressive when you’re not dealing with society. However, once you step back in the mainstream, you have to face some of the challenges that led to your addiction. If you are someone who needs to take a longer time before you get back into the fold, you need to commit yourself to a longer treatment time.

Why You May Need to Spend Additional Time in Recovery

You may need more time in recovery if the following applies:

  • You have been given a dual diagnosis. In other words, you have a medical or mental health issue that has led to your use of alcohol or drugs to excess.
  • You have previously gone through rehab but had a relapse.
  • You have been strongly resistant to treatment.
  • You do not have a strong family support system in place, or you are battling the addiction by yourself.
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As noted, some people find it helpful to transition to a sober living home. When they add this stay to their recovery, they usually live at the residence from six to eight months. One publication, The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, stated that people who lived in a sober living home found jobs and stayed at them longer and got in trouble with law less often.

Again, the length of time you stay at a sober living home is not set in stone. You can stay as long as you want as long as you abide by the house rules. 

If you don’t make this type of transition, you can also take advantage of the continuum of care offered by some drug treatment facilities. This graduation from living in recovery to getting back to living a daily life gives recovering addicts a chance to face everyday challenges with less concern and worry. 

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Take Your Time If You Need It

You don’t have to hurry through recovery. Research shows that the longer you stay abstinent, the lower the rate of relapse. Consider this – the rate of relapse is around 50%, so you have half a chance to avoid a return to your old habits. By recovering and/or transitioning more slowly, you are giving yourself more of a fighting chance.

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