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How Long Should You Stay in Rehab?

The amount of time you should stay in rehab will vary depending on the severity of your condition, the presence of any co-occurring physical or mental health issues, and various other personal factors. But the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends that treatment for addiction lasts at least 90 days.[1]

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What Is the Optimal Length of Time for Rehab?

While NIDA states that treatment should last at least 90 days, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be in an inpatient rehab program for three months. You might begin with an initial stay in a residential addiction treatment facility for a month and then transition to outpatient treatment for two months. 

Ideally, you should remain engaged in ongoing aftercare support, which may include weekly therapy sessions and ongoing peer support group participation, indefinitely. 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to treatment duration. The optimal length of stay will depend on your individual needs, your treatment goals, and how you progress in recovery. 

The consensus is that a longer time in addiction treatment leads to better long-term outcomes, including a higher chance of sustaining recovery.[2]

What Factors Impact How Long You Should Stay in Rehab?

The recommended length of rehab is influenced by several factors, such as these:[3-6]

Type of Addiction

Certain types of addictions may require more time in rehab because they involve medical detox or a stronger physical hold. For example, alcohol use disorder (AUD), opioid use disorder (OUD), and benzodiazepine use disorder all require a medical detox, which involves medication and medical care during the withdrawal process to ensure safety.

If you’ve had an addiction for a long time or used high doses of the drug in question, you will likely require more intensive treatment. More complex cases generally require more time in rehab.

Response to Treatment

Treatment should always be individualized to meet each person’s needs, and treatment will change depending on the person’s progress in rehab. It’s common for recovery to follow a non-linear path that might involve relapses and setbacks along the way. 

Treatment plans will need to be adjusted accordingly and that can affect the overall timeline. While treatment duration may be lengthened if relapse occurs, it may also be shortened if the person finds stability and feels strong in their recovery more quickly than anticipated.


If a person has a strong home environment, with a safe place to live and supportive family members and friends, they are less likely to relapse. If someone doesn’t have access to a good support network, they should remain in rehab for longer, until they are more stable in their recovery. 

Insurance & Finances

Insurance coverage and financial resources influence the recommended length of treatment. Many people stay in rehab as long as it is at least partially covered by their insurance provider. Even then, there will still be some out-of-pocket costs. 

Talk to your treatment provider about how to maximize your insurance coverage to ensure you get the most robust treatment possible. And ask them to map out all expected out-of-pocket expenses, so you aren’t surprised down the road.

Does the Type of Substance Impact the Length of Rehab?

It can, particularly if a lengthier detox period is needed. Some drugs of abuse don’t result in physical dependence, so there isn’t a traditional physical withdrawal process. Adjusting to not abusing any drug does involve some withdrawal period, but that process can be more intense for certain types of substances, such as opioids, benzodiazepines, or alcohol.

Cases of poly-substance abuse can also involve more intense withdrawal and early recovery periods. Talk to your doctor about what to expect for your specific situation.[7]

How Does Insurance Coverage Affect Rehab Timelines?

Your particular plan will dictate the amount of coverage you have for addiction treatment, and plans vary greatly in terms of what is covered.[8-10] 

Typically, insurance plans offer coverage for a specific period of treatment like 30 days, a set number of treatment sessions, and a specific list of treatment services. Because there is such a wide variation in coverage, call your provider and ask them for details. The treatment provider you choose will also verify your insurance coverage beforehand and can outline any out-of-pocket costs you might expect. 

Insurance companies often require that you first attempt a lower form of treatment before approving a more intensive form. For example, your insurance company may first require that you attempt outpatient treatment without success before approving coverage for inpatient rehab. 

The Importance of Not Stopping Treatment Early

Relapse is more likely if you leave treatment before it’s finished. Studies repeatedly show that longer treatment durations are associated with better long-term outcomes, including lower relapse rates and higher rates of sustained recovery.[11-13]

Addiction is a chronic condition, and there is no cure.[14-17] While you’ll reach stability in recovery and effectively manage your substance use disorder, the potential for relapse is always present. Because of this, engagement in a long-term recovery plan is crucial.

This will look different for different people. It might involve therapy sessions twice a week initially, but as you get stronger in your recovery over time, this might decrease to weekly or even monthly sessions. 

Some people begin by attending peer support group meetings, like 12-step meetings every day. Eventually, they may scale this back somewhat, but some level of involvement remains important.

While there isn’t a set timeline of exactly how long you should stay in rehab, make sure you don’t exit treatment too early. Talk to your treatment team, including your doctors, about the ideal treatment duration for you and be ready to adjust as needed.

Updated November 14, 2023
  1. Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (3rd edition). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published January 2014. Accessed October 18, 2023.
  2. What is substance abuse treatment? A booklet for families. Karl D, White E, Kopstein A. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Published 2014. Accessed October 18, 2023.
  3. Pathways to long-term recovery: A preliminary investigation. Laudet AB, Savage R, Mahmood D. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. 2002;34(3):305-311.
  4. Personalizing the treatment of substance use disorders. Volkow ND. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2020;177(2):113-116.
  5. Impact of continuing care on recovery from substance use disorder. McKay JR. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews. 2021;41(1).
  6. Relapse on the road to recovery: Learning the lessons of failure on the way to successful behavior change. DiClemente CC, Crisafulli MA. Journal of Health Service Psychology. 2022;48(2):59-68.
  7. One is not enough: Understanding and modeling polysubstance use. Crummy EA, O’Neal TJ, Baskin BM, Ferguson SM. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 2020;14.
  8. Insurance barriers to substance use disorder treatment after passage of mental health and addiction parity laws and the affordable care act: A qualitative analysis. Dickson-Gomez J, Weeks M, Green D, Boutouis S, Galletly C, Christenson E. Drug and Alcohol Dependence Reports. 2022;3:100051.
  9. Private health insurance coverage of drug use disorder treatment: 2005–2018. Mojtabai R, Mauro C, Wall MM, Barry CL, Olfson M. PLOS ONE. 2020;15(10).
  10. Does your insurance cover mental health services? American Psychological Association. Published 2021. Accessed October 18, 2023.
  11. Treatment and recovery. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published July 10, 2020. Accessed October 18, 2023.
  12. Relapse prevention and the five rules of recovery. Melemis SM. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. 2015;88(3):325-332.
  13. Relapse after inpatient substance use treatment: A prospective cohort study among users of illicit substances. Andersson HW, Wenaas M, Nordfjærn T. Addictive Behaviors. 2019;90:222-228.
  14. Addiction as a brain disease revised: why it still matters, and the need for consilience. Heilig M, MacKillop J, Martinez D, Rehm J, Leggio L, Vanderschuren LJMJ. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2021;46(46):1-9.
  15. Neuroscience of addiction: Relevance to prevention and treatment. Volkow ND, Boyle M. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2018;175(8):729-740.
  16. Is addiction really a disease? Indiana University Health. Published December 30, 2020. Accessed October 18, 2023.
  17. Is addiction a disease? Hardee J. Science says yes. Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan. Published May 19, 2017. Accessed October 18, 2023.
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