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Does Length of Stay Matter in Addiction Recovery?

When a person checks into an addiction recovery facility, they have one goal in mind: to kick their addiction to the curb and leave the center as a clean and better person.

Of course, there’s a lot that goes into a successful recovery. Here’s a question that most residents and/or their loved ones have: does the length of stay matter in addiction recovery?

There’s no such thing as a “typical” rehab length of stay. There may be an average length of rehab, but that’s just a number. Some people are ready to leave sooner than others. Some people have to stay in the facility for an extended period of time to reach their goals.

Why Does Length of Stay Matter? 

Length of stay isn’t something you should track. Yes, you can discuss it upfront with your loved ones and the facility at which you’re receiving care, but don’t tie your hopes to an arbitrary timeline. As mentioned above, no two people are the same. No two people move through the recovery process in the same manner.

On average, a stay in an inpatient or residential treatment center is somewhere in the 30 to 45-day range. But again, your unique situation will determine how long you stay. 

Length of stay is important for several reasons, including the potential for a shortened stay to increase the risk of relapse. Here’s an excerpt from a study—​​Relapse after inpatient substance use treatment: A prospective cohort study among users of illicit substances—published by ScienceDirect:

Relapse occurred among 37% of the sample by three-month follow-up. Results of multivariable analysis showed that younger age and having a psychiatric diagnosis were associated with an elevated relapse risk. Patients who received treatment at a short-term clinic (2–4 months), as opposed to a long-term clinic (>6 months) were also at increased risk of relapse, regardless of their length of stay. Reduced risk of relapse was predicted by having completed the inpatient treatment stay.

This isn’t conclusive evidence, but it does show that a shorter length of stay could increase the risk of relapse. 

Another point of consideration is how the recovery timeline unfolds. It often takes more than 30 to 45 days for an individual to complete all the necessary steps of their rehab.

Consider this: the first 30 days of rehab are among the most important, as this is when the mind and body “reset.” It’s generally a challenging process, but once the first 30 days are in the past, the path to recovery is much clearer.

The next 30 to 60 days are full of activities such as:

  • Recovery planning: Creating a plan for the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.
  • Skill building: Building the skills needed to succeed in the real world. 
  • Relapse prevention: Understanding how to prevent relapse in the future. 
  • Goal setting: Setting short and long-term goals, such as those related to sobriety, health, wellness, personal development, and professional development.

In many cases, leaving rehab early prohibits the individual from completing all of these steps. 

A group of people participating in therapy while in addiction recovery

Factors That Influence the Length of Stay 

Many factors can influence your length of stay. Understanding this upfront will allow you to plan accordingly. 

1. Insurance Coverage

If your stay is covered by insurance, you won’t have too many concerns about the financial impact. However, you must realize that different policies cover different services and lengths of stay. 

Talk to your preferred addiction recovery treatment center about your insurance coverage and what it provides. This will help you prevent a surprise bill down the line. 

2. Your Condition

Some people only have a minor addiction. Other people are dealing with severe addiction. And unfortunately, there are individuals with complex mental health issues that cause additional challenges. 

During your initial consultation, the professionals at your facility will assess your situation and help you understand what comes next. Don’t hide anything. Talk about what you’ve done in the past, what you’re dealing with in the present, and what you hope to accomplish in treatment. There’s a much greater chance of success when everyone is on the same page. 

3. The Facility You Choose 

Every addiction recovery facility has its own approach. Also, there are both short and long-term residential treatment programs to choose from. 

When comparing facilities, ask questions about the average length of stay for someone in your position. You need to be comfortable with the plan that your chosen facility puts in place.

The 19th circled on a calendar

So, What’s the Verdict? 

The verdict is that there’s no verdict. While the length of stay can matter in addiction recovery, there’s no answer as to how long is long enough or how short is too short. 

Be honest with yourself about your current situation, your dedication to overcoming your addiction, and the best path forward. When you combine this with guidance from a reputable addiction recovery center, you’re putting yourself in a position to succeed. 

Get the Help You Need 

If you’re ready to take the next step in your fight against a study drug addiction, contact the professionals at Freedom From Addiction. We can answer your questions about the length of stay, talk to you about our approach, and help you take the first step. As one of the top-rated publicly funded rehab centers in Ontario, you can rely on us every step of the way. We have a program that can help you overcome your addiction once and for all.



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