Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) affects several people in the United States alone. Based on data from 2019, nearly 15 million Americans have AUD. The youngest among them are only 12 years old.
When you have AUD, you’ll find it nearly impossible to control your drinking habits. Alcohol cravings will take over your life, and you’ll spend most of your time and money drinking. This behavior will affect all areas of your life.
If you want to live a sober life once again, going through alcohol rehab is the most effective way to go. It takes a good deal of time, but in the end, it’s worth the wait.
How long does alcohol rehab usually take? Read on and find out.
How many days does the entire alcohol rehab process last?
Different rehab programs take different lengths of time to complete. In general, though, alcohol rehab programs take anywhere between 30 days and 90 days. Typically, there are three lengths of alcohol rehab programs: 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days. There are also extended rehab programs that include several aftercare options.
It does not mean, though, that the longer you stay in rehab, the better your outcomes will be. Length of treatment is not the only thing that matters in recovery. What counts more is the quality of treatment you get. If you get therapies that are most appropriate for your case of AUD, then even shorter stays in the rehab center will give you excellent outcomes.
Next up, let’s look at how long each of the steps of alcohol rehab takes.
How long does detox take?
Detox is the first stage of alcohol rehab. How long it lasts depends on a few things, such as:
- The amount of alcohol you drink regularly
- How long you have been drinking
- Previous rounds of alcohol detox
- Physical health status
- Mental health status
Detox aims to wean you off alcohol. You would likely experience withdrawal during the process, which can get really uncomfortable. To help you manage withdrawal, doctors may give you medications. Also, there are certain medicines that you may take to reduce your cravings for alcohol. With these medications, the detox process becomes a lot more tolerable. This is why detox is best done with medical supervision.
Often, alcohol withdrawal symptoms start showing up 6 hours after your last drink. These can last for up to 2 weeks. Thus, most alcohol detox regimens last for that same length. For heavy drinkers, though, withdrawal symptoms can persist for up to a month, so their detox procedures last up to a month as well.
Once the most serious withdrawal symptoms are gone, you can then proceed with the next phase of treatment.
How long is inpatient alcohol rehab?
Many alcohol rehab programs are known as inpatient. That means you have to stay at a rehab center for the entire length of the program. Inpatient programs are very effective, and according to statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, patients who attend these programs are less likely to relapse and commit crimes. Longer stays are also more effective in producing favorable outcomes of recovery.
While inside the rehab facility, you will attend lots of therapy and counseling sessions. Also, you may join support groups, attend holistic therapy, and have recreation sessions. If the rehab center you’re in has the amenities, you may enjoy swimming, spas, and saunas as well.
The shortest inpatient programs typically last for 30 days. If your case of AUD is mild, and you’re in the company of sober people and a supportive environment, this short rehab program will work for you. Other programs last 60 to 90 days, and most patients attend these programs.
In case you have a dual diagnosis – that is, AUD plus a mental health problem – you would benefit from inpatient programs that last 180 days or longer. This gives more time for the rehab staff to treat both conditions.
How long is outpatient alcohol rehab?
Outpatient rehab is for people who have milder cases of AUD. It’s also a good alternative for those who can attend the shortest inpatient programs. Here, you do not have to stay in a rehab center. You just have to attend counseling and therapy sessions regularly. You can go home and still resume work and school while going through outpatient rehab.
Commonly, outpatient programs consist of 1 hour of individual counseling and several hours of group therapy per week. Sessions are often held 2 to 5 days in a week, and they may last from 1 to 6 months.
Outpatient treatments are not as intensive as the therapies in inpatient rehab, and you do not get constant supervision by mental health professionals.
How long is aftercare?
Aftercare programs include membership in 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and staying in sober living homes. These help you stay on the path to living an alcohol-free lifestyle.
If you attend AA meetings, you’ll be in the company of people who are also recovering from AUD. You share similar struggles and challenges, so it will be easier to help each other out. Your AA group will give you a sense that you’re not alone in the battle against AUD. AA meetings focus on sharing experiences, so you’ll learn from each other in every meeting. You can even discover best practices as well as things to avoid. Membership in AA can be for a lifetime, and you can attend meetings for years if you think they help you.
Sober living homes are helpful if your home environment is not conducive to recovery. Let’s say you have a family member who drinks regularly, or your home is generally a stressful place for you. Going back there after rehab is a bad idea – it might sabotage the progress you’ve already made. Thus, the alternative is to stay in a sober living home for a time.
Some sober living homes allow you to stay indefinitely, as long as you follow the house rules and stay sober. Eventually, you’ll reach a stage in which you’ll want to live on your own.