How Long Is Drug Rehab? Your Guide to the Rehab and Detox Process

Over their lifetimes, one in seven Americans will have issues with addiction. If you or your loved one have decided to get help for addiction, congratulations: it’s a big step to take and one that can have many positive effects.

Yet one question that many people is: how long is drug rehab? How long does the rehabilitation process take and what can be expected during detox?

The precise nature of detox and rehab varies from person to person but we can give you an estimate of how long it will take and the steps that will be taken along the way.

On average, detox takes around 4 days while the whole process can take a year or more. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the process.

Ready to find out more? Then please, keep reading.

Detox: The First Step

The very first step in your rehabilitation will be to detox. This means removing the drugs from your system and it varies in length depending on the substance that you are addicted to. The answer to the question “how long is drug rehab” partially depend on the length of this step in question.

Alcohol takes 3-14 days on average, heroin 4-10 days, methadone 10-20 days, and benzodiazepines can take more than eight weeks in severe cases.

It’s very important that you have medical supervision during detox treatment. Withdrawal symptoms can be very severe and in the case of certain drugs, like alcohol and benzodiazepines, can result in death if not managed.

How Does Medically-Managed Detox Work?

Detox is often the most stressful part of treatment for patients as withdrawal symptoms can range in severity from low mood to hallucinations and a range of other symptoms. Yet medically supervised detox helps to take the sting out of the worst of these effects.

You will be under medical supervision and have 24-hour nursing care. Depending on your addiction and the severity of your withdrawal symptoms, you may also be given medication to help manage the withdrawals. For instance, you may be prescribed benzodiazepines to treat severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Additional Treatment

Once you have overcome your withdrawal symptoms and the last traces of drugs have left your system, you can begin the rest of your treatment program. This step can take anywhere from a month to over a year depending on the severity of your symptoms.

You will typically begin this stage with a stay in an inpatient facility. This could be at a residential treatment center like a rehabilitation clinic or in a hospital.

This stage of treatment is all about therapy and counseling to treat your addictions and any other underlying mental health conditions. Many treatment centers utilize a three-pronged approach to treating their patients: therapy, medication, and other additional activities that promote good health.

Therapy and Counseling

This is one of the keystone parts of any addiction treatment. During therapy and counseling, mental health professionals will use cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and/or a range of other therapeutic approaches to help develop long-term coping strategies.

It can also help to address any other mental health issues that may contribute to your troubles with addiction such as depression or bipolar disorder. The therapy sessions could be one-on-one or group-based but the goal remains the same: to help you develop the skills you need once you are out of rehabilitation.


Depending upon your addiction and its severity, you may be prescribed medication to help you during behavioral therapy. This medication can help lessen withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Common medications prescribed include buprenorphine and disulfiram.

Other Activities

Many rehabilitation clinics will help you develop healthy skills in other areas. Common activities include exercise classes, meditation groups, and gardening.

These can help to give you an outlet for unpleasant feelings and develop a sense of inner peace.

Outpatient Treatment

Once you have been treated in a facility, your treatment can continue on an outpatient basis. This means that you may not live at the facility and may go back to work and resume social activities while being treated.

During your outpatient treatment, you will continue to see a counselor. You may have counseling for a whole day at regular intervals or every day for once an hour. Your counselor and other medical professionals can help to determine what’s best for you and how it should fit into your schedule.

During this step, it’s important that you have a healthy support system outside of the treatment center. You should also be financially stable enough to get back on your feet. If these aren’t or can’t be in place, extended inpatient treatment may be better for your needs.

Outpatient treatment is also a great option for those who have recovered from addiction but would like to get a therapeutic refresher. You can see outpatient treatment in these cases as akin to visiting a counselor or a therapist for any other condition.

Aftercare and Ongoing Recovery

How long does drug rehab take? While the main parts usually take less than a year, recovery is a life-long process.

It is common for people who have overcome addiction to still say that they are “in recovery.” This is because relapses are always possible and addiction is seen as a lifelong condition.

Aftercare is all about ensuring that you do your best to avoid a relapse and that you have the support that you need. As cravings can occur at any time, it’s best to have a robust therapeutic approach in place to counter these.

You may be prescribed medication to help you stay sober and you may wish to join a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. These groups offer you an outlet where you can discuss any difficulties you’re having and get support from other people who have been through the same experiences.

How Long is Drug Rehab? It Depends On You

There is not one answer to the question “how long is drug rehab?” It will depend on your addictions and their severity. However severe they are, there is help available and it is possible to get sober.

For more information about rehabilitation, please explore our site and find out more!

Get Help Today

Don’t go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you’re facing. Get in touch with one today.