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How Long Is Rehab for Drugs and Alcohol Addiction?

Those considering drug and alcohol rehab typically have many questions about how it will impact their lives. One of the most commonly asked questions is, how long is rehab for drugs and alcohol?

The answer to this question is complicated. How long rehab takes can vary significantly from person to person depending on a large number of factors.

This page will provide a general answer to the question, how long is rehab? If you would like more information on how long you specifically can expect rehab to take, call 888-534-2295 today to speak with a treatment staff member at Legacy Healing Center.

Common Rehab Program Lengths

The length of rehab can vary depending on the type of treatment program you’re enrolled in. Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) Valerie Puffenberger says, generally, you can expect the following:

  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) and partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) – Anywhere from 2 weeks to 45 days
  • Residential/Inpatient rehab – 30 days
  • Long-term residential – 6 to12 months
  • Sober houses – 1 to 2 years

Most rehabs can help clients for shorter or longer periods than their standard program lengths depending on the needs and capabilities of the patient.

Factors That Affect the Length of Rehab

Road that has the word “RECOVERY” written on it
Many factors impact how long rehab takes. One of the first steps in treating an addiction is helping the patient detox, which takes time. Layered on top of that are personal, situational, need-based, and program-based factors that can also affect the total length of rehab.

The Detox Process in Rehab

Withdrawal is the collective name for many unpleasant, dangerous, and sometimes even fatal symptoms that occur when a person either stops using the substance that they are dependent on or reduces their dose. To help patients get through withdrawal safely and comfortably, rehab professionals have developed the detox process.

Medically supervised detox uses several medications and other therapies to alleviate or eliminate the symptoms of withdrawal. Medical and psychiatric monitoring are also critical parts of detox. Exactly what treatments are used in detox will vary from patient to patient based on their needs and a variety of other factors.

How long detox lasts will also vary from patient to patient. However, generally, medically supervised detox will only last as long as acute withdrawal (when the greatest number of and most severe withdrawal symptoms are present). For most patients, acute withdrawal will last between one and three weeks.

Personal factors that affect how long rehab is

Personal factors that affect how long drug and alcohol rehab can take include:

  • Patient’s age
  • Patient’s weight
  • Patient’s gender
  • Patient’s genetic makeup
  • Patient’s ability/desire to stay in rehab for longer
  • Any co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Any co-occurring substance use disorders
  • Any co-occurring medical conditions or diseases

Situational factors that affect how long rehab is

Situational factors that affect how long drug and alcohol rehab can take include:

  • The substance or substances that were the focus of the use disorder
  • How long the substance use disorder has lasted
  • The age that the substance use disorder started
  • How much of the substance the patient used
  • How severe or strong the substance use disorder was
  • The patient’s insurance plan and what they cover
  • What sources of funding are available
  • The patient’s outside responsibilities

Need-based factors that affect how long rehab is

Need-based factors, which are tracked and assessed by treatment staff, that affect how long drug and alcohol rehab can take include:

  • How effective treatment has been
  • Whether the patient prepared to handle sobriety outside of rehab
  • Whether the patient is aware of their triggers and can handle them appropriately
  • Whether the patient is aware of underlying causes of addiction and handle them appropriately
  • How the patient will handle daily responsibilities outside of rehab

Program-based factors that affect how long rehab is

Program-based factors that affect how long drug and alcohol rehab can take include:

  • Policies and procedures of the treatment facility
  • The space available in the program
  • The classification of the program (e.g., IOP or PHP)
  • Local governmental laws or ordinances
  • Medical guidance and judgment provided by treatment staff members

Inpatient Rehab vs. Outpatient Rehab

Young man enters a rehab facility
There are thousands of different rehab programs throughout the country, and each one is dramatically different from the next. However, most rehab programs fall into one of two general categories: inpatient and outpatient rehab.

Inpatient rehab requires patients to reside in a treatment facility where they attend treatment sessions. Outpatient rehab requires patients to reside elsewhere and come to a facility for treatment sessions several days a week for several hours at a time.

Generally, standard inpatient rehabs take 30 days, and long-term inpatient rehab can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months. Outpatient rehab typically lasts anywhere from 2 weeks to 45 days.

Pros and Cons of Inpatient Rehab

The pros of inpatient rehab include:

  • Provides the greatest likelihood of successful and lasting recovery
  • Allows patients to fully focus on their recovery and getting their life back in order
  • Provides the opportunity for 24/7 medical and clinical monitoring
  • Separates patients from triggers, enablers, and other underlying causes of addiction
  • May be desired or required for professional or legal reasons

The cons of inpatient rehab include:

  • Often significantly more expensive than outpatient rehab
  • Makes it difficult or impossible for patients to continue to meet personal, professional, financial, legal, or familial responsibilities
  • Require patients to be in a specific location

Pros and Cons of Outpatient Rehab

The pros of outpatient rehab include:

  • Typically, significantly less expensive than inpatient rehab
  • Allows patients to continue meeting daily responsibilities while attending treatment
  • There are online outpatient rehab options that do not require patients to be in a specific location
  • Outpatient programs generally allow patients greater flexibility

The cons of outpatient rehab include:

  • Lower likelihood of a successful and lasting recovery than inpatient rehab
  • Patients are less able to fully focus on their recovery
  • Patients may not be separated from triggers, enablers, and other underlying causes of addiction
  • Does not allow for around-the-clock medical and clinical monitoring
  • May not meet patient’s personal, professional, or legal needs

Paying for Rehab: Insurance Coverage and Costs

Addiction rehab doctor goes over costs and insurance coverage with a patient
As a result of the Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA or Obamacare), substance abuse and mental health services must be covered by health insurance plans. However, different plans offer significantly different levels of coverage.

The only way to know what your plan covers and what you’ll owe is to contact the rehab facility you are interested in.

However, insurance is not the only way to pay for rehab. Some other options that might be available to you include:

  • Self-pay
  • Private payment
  • Grants
  • Scholarships
  • Charitable funding
  • Governmental funding

Learn More About Your Rehab Options

Every individual is different, and so is every substance use disorder. Every patient will have specific treatment needs and deserves treatment that is specially tailored to them. Luckily, Legacy Healing Center is dedicated to helping patients regain their sobriety and maintain it for the long-term.

We use a holistic approach to treatment that heals the mind, body, and spirit through clinical therapy, proper medication management, aftercare, and so much more.

Call 888-534-2295 today to speak with a treatment staff member about how long rehab could take for you and how our programs help on your path to recovery.

How Long Is Rehab? FAQs

How long does rehab typically last?

How long rehab lasts is different for each patient and depends on personal, situational, needs-based, and program-based factors.

According to psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) Valerie Puffenberger you can generally expect the following:

  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) and partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) – Anywhere from 2 weeks to 45 days
  • Residential/Inpatient rehab – 30 days
  • Long-term residential – 6 to12 months
  • Sober houses – 1 to 2 years

Most rehab facilities will allow for program length flexibility based on the needs and abilities of the patient.

Is residential or outpatient rehab better for me?

Whether residential or outpatient rehab is better for you depends on your individual situation. The only way to know for sure is to contact a treatment professional, who will be able to assess your current needs and status.

However, in general, residential (or inpatient) rehab is better for those who:

  • Have more severe or long-lasting addictions
  • Need and are able to separate themselves more fully from their daily lives
  • Need around-the-clock care and monitoring, among other factors.

In general, outpatient rehab is better for those who are:

  • Comfortable in their ability to handle triggers
  • Unable to suspend their daily obligations
  • In need of a less expensive option than residential rehab

What happens during detox in rehab?

Detox is a medically supervised process that is designed to keep patients comfortable and safe as they go through withdrawal. During detox, treatment professionals provide medications and to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, keeping patients in a positive state of mind and enhancing their chances of recovery once detox ends. The detox process also involves around-the-clock medical and clinical monitoring.

Will my insurance cover the cost of rehab?

In the United States, health insurance is legally required to provide mental health and substance abuse coverage. This means that unless you have used up the coverage allotted to you already, your insurance will almost certainly cover at least some drug and alcohol rehab services at some facilities.

However, not all programs accept all insurances, and different insurance providers may provide different levels of coverage at the same program. If you’re ready to take the next step, call 888-534-2295 to speak with a treatment staff member at Legacy Healing Center to find out what your insurance covers.

Does choosing a specific location affect the success of rehab?

Choosing the right location has a major impact on the success of rehab. For example, choosing a rehab that’s nearby can offer convenience and make it easier for you to attend treatment on a regular basis. However, a local rehab can also keep you in the vicinity of people, places, and situations that trigger your use.

Prospective patients should be aware of their needs and investigate all possible programs. It is important to have a checklist of questions and needs that matter most to you.



  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2022). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).
  2. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2021). Alcohol use Disorder: A Comparison between DSM-IV and DSM-5.
  3. National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2020). Substance Use Disorders.
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About the Author

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Jeffrey Juergens

Jeff Juergens is a leading author in the addiction and recovery field, dedicating the last seven years of his life to helping those struggling with substance use issues find the help that they need. Jeff's work has been used in rehabs across the country as tools to help patients achieve sobriety.

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Dr. Olushola, MSW

Olushola Lawal, MSW, RCSWI Olushola (Shola) Lawal serves as a Primary Therapist at Legacy Healing Detox. Shola was born and raised in South Florida. He is a Florida State University double alumnus graduating with his Bachelor of Social Work in 2013 and his Master of Social Work in 2015. Shola’s...