An important factor we must remember about drug treatment, and addiction as a whole is that everyone progresses at different rates through treatment. Many circumstances play into these questions. What kind of drugs was the person using? How long were they using these drugs? What route did they administer the drugs? These questions all play a vital role in the success of treatment.

With that said, it’s essential to remember that drug rehab must be a customized process tailored to your specific needs. The most successful drug rehab alumni all went through the rigorous process of treatment with clinicians treating their particular needs.

There is no predetermined length of treatment, but research has shown that positive outcomes are contingent on adequate treatment length. Treatment dropout is a problem that is encountered by treatment programs. They try to apply various methods to keep clients in treatment like signing non-binding contracts that they won’t leave, but at the end of the day, they have the free will to choose their outcome.

Drug rehab programs also try to include motivational techniques to keep the clients engaged which have been shown to improve results. When addiction is viewed as a chronic disease, and there is continued care and monitoring, programs can succeed. Unfortunately, this can require multiple episodes of treatment and readily readmitting clients who have gone through setbacks in the form of relapse. It is a common theme in addiction treatment, but those seeking to abstain from drugs and alcohol will have a better chance than those who do not.

The sole purpose of drug addiction treatment is to stop compulsive drug seeking and use. There are many settings in which treatment can take place, and there are many various forms and different lengths of time. Drug addiction is typically a chronic disorder characterized by occasional relapse, and short-term treatment or one-time treatment is not sufficient. For many, long-term treatment is a process that requires multiple interventions and consistent monitoring. There are many evidence-based approaches to treating addiction. As mentioned above, the only way to approach addiction treatment is a tailored approach.

Below, we examine how effective different lengths of treatment can be and what could be the most effective means for you. There are variables to take into consideration, but hopefully, this provides information on what you can expect moving forward.

28 to 30 days in Treatment Is Not Enough

In many cases, the time a client will spend in a treatment facility will be determined by what their health insurance is willing to pay. Many drug users rely solely on Medicaid, and this means that they will only qualify for less than 30 days for a drug rehab program. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) advises that clients who stay in treatment for at least 90 at the minimum are more likely to increase success rates than those for a shorter duration of time.

Young woman wondering how long is drug rehab


A 30-day rehab program is not nearly enough time to address the unique and complex issues associated with drug addiction. Addiction specialists mention that 30 days in rehab only succeeds in detoxing the users but does nothing to prevent relapse.

One of the difficulties facing a drug user who leaves addiction treatment early is their chance of having an overdose. In the time they spent in treatment, the drugs have detoxed from their body, but the desire has not. With that, the tolerance for drugs they had built up has decreased exponentially, and a typical dose that made them feel “normal” before treatment now has the potential to kill them. The rate of mortality increases with users being 129 times more likely to die from an overdose during their first two weeks of release.

Short-term, 30 days or less, drug rehab alone does not provide enough time for someone who abuses drugs to adjust to sobriety and learn how to live their lives without using addictive substances. The National Institute on Drug Abuse also says that up to 60 percent of people in short-term rehab programs will return to drug use. Our brains change both chemically and physically, so this short period is not enough to heal and restore things to how they were before using.

A large part of the process is behavioral modification, and someone who has just earned their sobriety must now learn how to change their way of living life to support a sober lifestyle. In a mere two to three weeks of treatment, this is almost impossible to accomplish. The recovering user likely won’t learn enough about their disease or acquire newer and healthier habits in that short time.

What Can Get Accomplished in 90 Days of Treatment?

Addiction treatment is an evolving science in which new information is learned every day. With that, in the past few years alone, a 90-day treatment program has become the new gold standard for treating drug and alcohol users. Reports have shown that 17 percent of people who were in treatment 90 days or more reported relapse in the following year. More extended stays in rehab provide many advantages. In the early stages of detox, you won’t have the ability to process your recovery in the way necessary. Withdrawal symptoms can be the focal point of your thoughts and feelings, and your ability to focus on improving is much harder during this span.

Ninety days of treatment allows you more time to master the skills of recovery. You will become immersed in treatment activities throughout the day as the weeks float by. Skills such as managing interpersonal relationships, engaging in conflict resolution, and exercising personal discipline are vital for lasting recovery. Like any newly acquired skill, practice makes perfect, and staying the recommended amount of time allows you the freedom to practice these skills before entering into the rigors of daily life.

For some, being away from the stresses of life for 30 days is not enough time. A more extended stay within the confines of a safe center strengthens your recovery muscles so that you are equipped to handle the temptations outside of those walls. You will have the chance to delve deep into the concepts of recovery. As mentioned above, scientific evidence shows that on average, it takes 90 days for the brain to reset itself and rid itself of the effects of addiction.

Overall, a better outcome is likely with a longer stint in treatment. Research has shown that those who stayed in treatment longer not only gave themselves a higher likelihood of long-term success, but they were also more likely to be employed in the year following treatment.

The most critical factor that must be reiterated is that everyone is different. No predetermined number of days is going to indicate that you are ready to move on. A 90-day mark is merely a number supported by science in which the brain resets, but as human beings, we all possess unique qualities that make us different. No matter the differences, however, statistics do show a higher likelihood of long-term treatment stays to be more effective. If you are dealing with drug addiction, it is time to get help and speak with specialists who are specially equipped in these matters.

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