Length of Stay in Addiction Treatment: Why it is a VERY Important Factor in Success

Addiction is a chronic disease that leads to frequent relapse, leaving a person feeling enslaved to alcohol or drugs. Over 20 million Americans feel compulsive cravings for drugs or alcohol. Of those, about 2 million are opiate addicts. So how can a longer length of stay in addiction treatment benefit those struggling with addiction?

People become addicted for many different reasons. Some abuse substances to relieve stress.  Some give in to peer pressure. Some are introduced to an all-consuming craving through their doctor.

Addiction changes the brain for life. These changes in the brain create cravings for specific substances that are extremely difficult to control. Even though addicts recognize that their addiction is causing harm to themselves and their communities, the temptation is overbearing and hard to overcome.

Substance abuse disrupts normal life. It breaks relationships with loved ones, disrupts work, inhibits ability to pay bills, and often brings one into legal battles.

For those suffering with addiction, they need help to get their lives back in order. They cannot do this alone. They need help and help that lasts a lifetime. This is why longer lengths of stay in addiction rehab are important in recovery success.

What is Addiction Treatment and Why Is it Important?

Addiction treatment helps individuals struggling with addiction to stop using the substances they are dependent on. The purpose of treatment is to enable people to once again be productive and functioning in their close relationships, place of employment, and community.

Treatment can occur in different settings, have a different strategies, and have different lengths of addiction rehab.

The three most popular types of treatment are:

  1. Inpatient Rehabilitation: Patients stay in a residential facility where they have access to professional staff around the clock. Professionals work with you to make a plan that uses therapy and medical intervention to help you succeed during your length of stay in addiction treatment.
  2. Outpatient Rehabilitation: Patients receive the professional therapeutic and medical support they need but in the context of their normal lives. They meet with their support team daily but are not with them 24/7.
  3. Social Programs: These are usually a supplement to inpatient or outpatient rehab. They include groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and usually use a twelve step program.

Not every addiction is the same.  Not every addiction treatment plan is the same. Though generally they follow the same main three steps for longer lengths of stay (LOS).

What Are the Main Steps During a Longer Length of Stay in Addiction Treatment?

Recovery is usually a lifelong process. A longer rehab treatment plan usually incorporates three main stages: detox, treatment and aftercare.

Understanding Step One in Longer Length of Stay Rehab Treatment: Detox

Detox is the initial stage in longer lengths of stay (LOS). The purpose is to clear all substances from one’s body.  Depending on the drug, it can take several days up to a few weeks. This is the biggest hurdle in longer rehab treatment.

Detox is painful because one experiences severe withdrawal symptoms. These can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Irritation

Detox can be dangerous. When you go through detox, it is best advised to do it with medical consultation.

While detox is a very necessary jumpstart to your recovery, you need longer length of stay in rehab treatment to reap the benefits.

Longer Rehab Treatment and Average Lengths of Stay in Addiction Treatment

Determining the length of stay during addiction treatment does not stop at detox.  Drug treatment is tailored to the needs of the individual. Generally, patients will receive a combination of different therapies, counseling, and non-narcotic medication. Also, social support groups aid the individual in getting connected with people who have the same struggles and goals.

The average outpatient treatment program lasts a few months, while the minimum residential treatment length of stay is just 27 days. Even though some treatment only lasts less than a month, this has proven to be ineffective. For successful results, the length of stay in addiction treatment must exceed 90 days.

Short-term treatment has not resulted in positive outcomes. Clients usually have to return for longer rehab treatment.

Understanding Aftercare: The Longer Length of Stay in Addiction Treatment, the Better

Rehabilitation centers do not take away the biological cravings for drugs and alcohol. They also do not remove environmental factors that make temptation even harder.  Relapse for drug addiction occurs among 40-60% of addiction cases.

Addiction is a chronic, lifelong disease. The longer the length of addiction rehab, the more prepared you will be to fight addiction for life.

Aftercare helps ensure that addicts are in a medical and social support system that reminds them of the strategies they learned to resist their overwhelming desire for harmful substances.

The scope of aftercare depends on the individual and the severity of their addiction. Some may only need it for a year. Some may need it for a lifetime.

It can take form in social support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or in residential facilities, where members pay rent and contribute to the community. Support can also be distance based, such as through the Internet and telephone-based systems.

Even though treatment type and duration varies, one of the important factors in success is length of time in treatment.

Does addiction treatment actually work?

There are so many factors that influence treatment quality and outcomes.  Certain drugs are more addictive.  Socioeconomic class impacts access to high quality rehabilitation centers.  Environmental factors are out of the client and support group’s control.  Success isn’t usually complete abstinence from drugs and alcohol, but improvement.

It is a complicated question. Many factors impact results of treatment.

There is one factor, however, that has proven to have a positive impact on success: the length of stay in addiction treatment.

Why a Longer Length of Stay in Addiction Treatment is Crucial for Recovery

The length of stay in addiction treatment is one of the most important factors in success. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy to determining how much time one needs. Despite this, longer lengths of stay mean less relapse and more success at living a free life again.

Addiction is long lasting and many often relapse while attempting to overcome this chronic condition. Because of this, short-term attempts at treatment are not effective. Longer lengths of stay and participation in treatment create more successful outcomes.

Take these three snapshots of studies:

  • One study showed that about 70% of women who went through rehab for 6-12 months had remained sober when interviews were conducted more than six months later. The women who were in rehab for less than 6 months were significantly more likely to relapse.
  • Researchers found in another study that cocaine users were twice as likely to relapse if they were in rehab for less than 90 days compared to those who stayed longer.
  • One study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), reported that those who stay in residential treatment for more than 90 days had less likelihood to relapse.  On the other hand, individuals who were in rehab for less than 90 days had relapse rates equal to those who were only in treatment for one or two days.

Multiple studies have shown that those who stayed in treatment less than 90 days were no different than those who only did the detox portion of treatment.

The three top reasons long-term care works best are:

  1. More Support: Those struggling with addiction need time to learn about the recovery process itself. They also need a significant amount of time to learn coping skills and put them into practice.
  2. Time Away from Environment Factors: These include drug-using communities, stress at work, and other psychological triggers for substance abuse.
  3. Focus on Root Causes: A longer length of stay in addiction treatment gives participants more time to focus on the underlying causes and long-term effects of addiction. Understanding these factors will be beneficial in the long run.

Moving Forward After a Longer Length of Stay in Addiction Treatment

Many individuals fighting addiction go through rehab many times. Relapse should never be treated as a personal or moral failure. Instead, it is a normal part of the recovery process. Addiction is often a lifelong mental disorder. This means that the battle that accompanies addiction will also often last a lifetime.

To see better outcomes for your addiction, longer rehab treatment is highly recommended. Beating addiction is incredibly difficult and should not be undertaken alone. It takes a team of professionals and a social support network to fight for freedom together. If you have more questions about your length of stay in addiction treatment, do not hesitate to reach out and contact us today.

2018-01-05T05:02:56+00:00January 20th, 2018|Addiction Information|1 Comment

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  1. […] success rates. For optimal success, pair ORT with counselling and various types of therapies. The length of stay in addiction therapy will also have a profound impact. In general, patients have a higher chance at […]

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