There are probably a lot of people reading this article and are considering checking into treatment for drug or alcohol use, and they are all wondering the same thing. “How long should I be in there?” Unfortunately the answer is probably not as straightforward as you would probably like. There are lots of factors involved with determining the length of stay for someone with a drug and alcohol problem.
One thing to consider is how long the program lasts. There are programs that are over a year long, and there are programs that are only 30 days, and everything in between. Every program in the world has different types of programming, and a lot of it is determined by their certification level, and what their philosophy is surrounding treatment. There are clinical programs, and purely 12 Step Programs, and some that combine the two. Some accept insurance and some don’t. These are all factors in determining how long a program lasts.
Another consideration is cost. Treatment is very expensive, generally speaking, especially if the program has a clinical component involved, and it can run in the thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Depending on how much you are willing to spend, that will be part of what determines how long you are there. Insurance is an option, but most policies are not willing to cover the entire cost of residential treatment, and so you will end up having to pay at least some out of pocket, and insurance companies will not help if there is not a clinical component involved in the program. If it is a purely 12 step program with no clinical aspect, it will have to be paid for entirely out of pocket, though these programs are generally much more affordable than a clinical program.
Generally, people with the program will consult with you and your family to decide what the best course of action is. Depending on how well you are doing in the program, they may decide that you are ready to leave earlier than if you were causing problems in the program or having difficulty grasping the principles of recovery. There are people out there that don’t have your best interests at heart, but there are programs that really do want you to succeed in your recovery. Such programs will take a hard look at how you are showing up within their walls, and make a determination as to if you are ready to succeed in the real world.
Programs will look at your options following treatment. If you are able, most of them will help you find a sober living house to stay in while you get back on your feet and practice the principles in your daily life, with all the stresses of the real world bearing down on you. You will have no practice dealing with reality within treatment, so it can be a shock to do so when you leave. Even before you went to rehab, you were likely ignoring real life by drinking and using drugs; maybe even for many years, so to deal with the reality of sobriety you will need practice to implement recovery in life, so that you can succeed. That is what a sober house does.
The length of your stay in treatment depends on the person. If you are doing well, or if you are financially unable to continue, they may discharge you earlier than a person who is not doing well, or chooses to stay longer. I won’t lie to you. Many places do not tell you when you are going to leave, so that you are not distracted by thoughts of leaving the whole time you are there. It all depends.