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Long-Term vs. Short-Term Drug Rehab: What’s Recommended?



When you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and in need of help, the question you ask yourself is, “How do I choose the right rehab program?” Well, it depends on what works for you. 

If someone has been abusing drugs or alcohol for years and needs time off from all substances to heal their body and mind, then long-term rehab might be the best option. 

However, if someone is struggling with addiction but doesn’t have much time before they need to get back into work or school

—or simply can’t afford to take that much time off—then short-term rehab might be more suitable. But which one should you choose? 

Let’s break down each type so that we can help you decide which one will work best for your unique situation:


Table of Contents

What Is Long-Term Rehab?

Long-term rehab is a residential treatment program that lasts for at least three months. 

The length of time can vary depending on the severity of your addiction and what you need to recover from. 

It’s a good choice if you’ve tried short-term rehab and relapsed, as long-term drug treatment offers more time to work on underlying issues that may have led to your addiction in the first place. 

You’ll also have time to focus on your recovery and learn coping skills so that when you go back into the world, you’ll be able to continue living drug-free without any major setbacks.

Long-term drug rehab is often offered in safe and secure environments where you can focus solely on getting better without worrying about other things happening in your life outside of treatment such as work or school obligations. 

The average length of short-term rehab programs is 28 days (or 2 weeks), while long-term programs offer patients much more time than this: On average, they last between 90 days (3 months) up until several years depending on which stage they’re at within their journey with substance abuse.


The Advantages of Long-Term Rehab

The advantages of long-term rehab are many. For one thing, it’s more effective than short-term rehab. 

A study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that people who underwent long-term treatment had a better chance of staying sober after treatment than those who completed their program in less time.

Additionally, it can be easier for individuals to adjust to life outside of their addiction when they’re not thrown back into society immediately after detoxing. 

A safe and comfortable environment helps patients avoid triggers and cravings while allowing them to focus solely on recovery and healing during this vulnerable time.

Long-term treatment also allows for individualized care

—for example, someone struggling with an eating disorder may take longer than someone else before they’re ready to eat normally again; similarly, the severity of your drug use determines how quickly you’ll need to taper off substances like heroin before transitioning safely into sobriety.


What Is Short-Term Rehab?

A short-term rehab is a good option for people who are not yet ready to commit to sobriety. It’s usually 30 days or less and helps people get through withdrawal and detox. 

If you’re not sure if long-term rehab is right for you yet, short-term treatment can help you decide.

It’s important to know that there are many different types of facilities out there

—and some aren’t rehabilitation centers at all! 

Short-term rehabs are typically licensed by the state where they’re located (though they may also be accredited by CARF International) and offer medical services as well as counseling.


The Advantages of Short-Term Rehab

Short-term rehab is a good option for people who are looking for less intensive treatment. 

It’s also a good choice if you need to get back to work quickly, if you don’t have the money or time for long-term rehab, and if you’ve already tried short-term rehab in the past but still relapsed after completing treatment.

Long-term drug rehabilitation is recommended for people with very serious drug addictions who haven’t been able to stay sober on their own after completing short-term programs. 

Longer stays also tend to be recommended when someone has relapsed while undergoing shorter stays in drug rehabilitation centers and wants another chance at becoming sober and staying sober once they leave the facility.


Choosing the right rehab program is the key to successful recovery

The following factors should be taken into account when looking for a suitable drug treatment facility:

  • Length of stay: The recommended length of stay depends on how long you’ve been using drugs and the type of drug abuse problem you have, among other things. For example, someone who has been abusing cocaine for years might need more time to recover than someone who’s just started smoking marijuana occasionally and is looking for some guidance on how to quit.
  • Location: Consider where you live about your potential treatment center—if it’s far from home or work, will transportation be an issue? Does it have good access to public transportation? Are there any nearby amenities that might make life easier during treatment? In other words: does the location fit your needs as well as provide access necessary for success in recovery?
  • Programmatic options: Determine what kind of program works best for you by identifying your reasons why seeking help may be beneficial (e.g., wanting better relationships with friends and family) as well as which methods seem most promising based upon available research literature. There are many types available today so don’t feel limited by what we mention here; we encourage you to talk with others who can give insight into what worked best!

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that there are no magic bullets for addiction recovery. 

The best you can do is take all the information you have about your situation and weigh it against the options available to you to make an informed decision about which treatment program will be most effective for your unique needs. 

If we can be of any help at all in this process, please reach out today!


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