How Long Does Rehab Take?

The Addiction Treatment Process: How Long Does Rehab Take?

As a mental disorder, there is no particular cure for addiction; however, it is a disease that can be successfully treated and then managed to prevent it from returning in the future. The process of treatment can be lengthy, and according to research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there needs to be at least three months dedicated to treatment for it to have a lasting effect. However, the time that each individual may need in treatment can also vary greatly. In this article, we will look at how long does rehab take to be able to be effective, and how long each segment of treatment tends to last.

Factors That Can Increase Drug Rehab Length

To answer the question “how long does rehab take?” is difficult because addiction can be vastly different from person to person as far as causes go. Each person tends to have their own specific needs that fall under the scope of rehab treatment. There isn’t a way to fast-track the process because it often has causes that stretch beyond just choice and willpower. In fact, willpower and choice have very little to do with addiction as a disease.

Some of the factors that can affect the answer to the question “how long does rehab take?” includes the following:

  • Whether the addiction is mild or severe
  • How long the substance abuse took place for
  • The type of drug that was abused
  • Access to quality care since the National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that some rehab programs do little more than educate the addict on addiction, which isn’t enough to properly treat the addiction
  • How much of the substance was taken daily
  • How receptive the person is to treatment and how quickly treatment is adjusted to their needs after discovering that treatment isn’t as effective as it should be

The Stages of Rehab

So, how long does rehab take? Since each person tends to have a slightly different experience in drug rehabilitation centers, and therefore different treatment expectations, we will explore the stages of rehab and break down the average length of each stage for a person with a severe addiction that utilizes inpatient and outpatient rehab.

Detox: 5-7 days

Detox is always the first step of treatment in drug rehabilitation centers. It helps the person to rid themselves of their physical dependence by allowing their body to return to its normal function. This stage can last between 5 to 7 days.

Residential Treatment: 30-90 days

This is the stage where various therapeutic programs are used to treat the causes of addiction, the person’s coping skills, and help them to establish a relapse prevention plan among others. Depending on the needs of the patient, a 30 day inpatient drug rehab may be used, but it can also last for 90 days, or longer if needed. Many people will use a 30 day inpatient drug rehab and then transition into an outpatient program.

Outpatient Rehab: 30-130 days

In order to achieve the minimum suggested treatment length, an outpatient program is usually incorporated after inpatient rehab. This helps the person to transition with more ease from the intensive treatment in residential care to their normal functional life. This stage tends to last for around 30 days, but can last for 130 days or more.

Aftercare Services

Aftercare programs are the last in the chain of addiction treatment. It includes 12-step programs and sober living homes. These can help over the long term and help maintain abstinence. 12-step program lengths can continue for as long as is needed, and sober living homes tend to accommodate people for several months to years.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.