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How Long Does Alcohol Rehab Take?

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How Does Treatment for Alcoholism Work?

Someone with alcohol use disorder (AUD) benefits from professional treatment. Treatment and relapse prevention increases the odds of long-term recovery and the ability to lead a healthier, more fulfilling life. 

Alcoholism, or AUD, is when someone is unable to control, reduce, and/or stop drinking despite knowing they have a problem. Treatment for alcoholism is helpful in providing people with the tools they need to stop, or at least control, their drinking patterns.

Treatment is also effective for helping people with alcoholism identify and cope with their drinking triggers.

Treatment for AUD begins with detoxification, or removal of the ‘toxin’ from the body. It can trigger a variety of withdrawal symptoms, especially in chronic alcoholics. These include: 

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Insomnia and other sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • High blood pressure
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Sensitivity to light, touch, and sound
  • Fever
  • Seizures

In some cases, people detoxing from alcohol develop alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS). Severe AWS can be fatal and requires ongoing medical supervision.

Once the withdrawal phase passes, people with alcoholism often begin counseling and other therapy services. This includes a variety of treatment approaches, including group and individual counseling, medication, and family support.

Consider alcoholism treatment if you:

  • Have tried to quit drinking but relapsed
  • Experience physical withdrawal symptoms when you don’t drink
  • Want to stop but don’t believe you can
  • Have experienced detrimental effects from drinking, including job loss, legal problems, or relationship issues
  • Drink daily, early in the morning, or in binges
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Types of Treatment for AUD 

Here are three common treatment options for AUD:

Inpatient/Residential

Inpatient or residential treatment programs offer round-the-clock care. People live at the substance abuse treatment location, usually for 30, 60, or 90 days. Inpatient treatment is best for those who don’t have stable home environments. This includes homelessness or environments where family and friends routinely drink or use drugs. 

These residential treatment programs include:

  • Detox
  • Medical supervision
  • Medication
  • Group and individual counseling
  • Relapse prevention planning

Outpatient

Outpatient programs allow people to live off-site and attend treatment during daytime hours. They visit the treatment facility for counseling, medication administration, or both.

Treatment can be full-time or part-time and tends to taper in time commitment once people meet their treatment goals. Some outpatient alcohol rehab programs serve as a transition between inpatient programs and a return to regular life.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) or Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)

These two programs offer coordinated outpatient care to address complex needs.

They allow people to live at home while attending treatment up to 4 to 5 days a week (for several hours on most days). Most of these programs are a blend of inpatient and outpatient care. They mimic the intensity of inpatient programs, but participants return home at night. 

How Long Does Alcohol Rehab Take?

Recovery is never-ending for people with alcoholism. However, formal or structured treatment programs only last a certain amount of time. 

For example:

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30-Day Program

Thirty-day programs are a popular treatment option because they are effective, affordable, and accessible.

These programs provide time to manage physical withdrawal symptoms and establish relapse prevention skills. Participants define a course of treatment and an aftercare plan to help them after treatment ends.

Thirty-day programs are the shortest amount of time recommended for people seeking addiction treatment. In some cases, treatment providers recommend people continue with longer treatment at the end of the 30 days if they have achieved certain goals.

These programs are some of the most affordable, and insurance often covers the cost of care.

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60-Day Program 

Sixty-day programs offer more intensive treatment than 30-day programs.

Participants have time to physically detox and participate in various therapy programs. They address behavioral, situational, and familial circumstances that contribute to addiction.

These programs are similar to 30-day programs, but provide more time to practice and develop necessary skills before returning to normal life.

Insurance might not cover the full cost of a 60-day program. 

90-Day Program (or Longer)

Ninety-day programs are one of the most intensive treatment programs available. They have the highest success rates but are not the best option for everyone. Some programs offer 6 to 12 month residential treatment options.

People in 90-day programs engage in:

  • Intake and evaluation
  • Medically-assisted detox
  • Therapy
  • Self-help groups
  • Designing an aftercare program

Ninety-day substance abuse programs give people more time to adjust to life without drugs or alcohol. By the time they leave treatment and return to their lives, they’ve developed skills for dealing with temptations and triggers.

Ninety-day programs are recommended for people with long-term or severe AUD.

Cost of Alcohol Rehab

The cost of alcohol rehab varies based on several factors, including the length of treatment.

The average cost of inpatient treatment is at least $7,000 per month. Basic treatment costs range between $2,000 and $25,000. It can cost as much as $75,000 to $80,000 to participate in a long-term luxury program.

In addition to amenities and treatment length, location, medical support, and treatment for co-occurring disorders also affect total costs. Treatment programs in resort areas such as Hawaii, the Caribbean Islands, Southern California, and New Mexico offer luxury accommodations and support.

Although the cost of treatment can seem overwhelming, it’s likely to cost less than ongoing substance use and addiction. When considering the expense of treatment, factor in the potential cost of:

  • Losing your job
  • Needing emergency medical care
  • Legal problems
  • Non-monetary losses, including damaged relationships with loved ones

Does Insurance Cover Rehab?

Yes. By law, American insurance companies must comply with the ACA and cover treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction.

Different health insurance plans offer varying levels of care. Before enrolling in a program, speak to your insurance provider to determine what your plan covers. 

Treatment also varies based on the facility and its amenities. Basic facilities tend to cost less than facilities that offer high-end, spa-like amenities. 

Additionally, treatment length affects cost. Thirty-day alcohol and drug addiction treatment programs cost less than 60- and 90-day programs. 

There are likely to be additional, out-of-pocket costs for alcohol addiction treatment, even if you have health insurance. Payment options are available for people concerned about covering their rehab expenses.

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Updated on April 12, 2022
6 sources cited
  1. What Types of Alcohol Treatment Are Available?” NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator, 25 July 2019. 
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 17 Jan. 2019.
  3.   “Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).” Www.niaaa.nih.gov, Dec. 2020.
  4. Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).” Medlineplus.gov, National Library of Medicine, 2019. 
  5. Glasner-Edwards, Suzette, and Richard Rawson. “Evidence-Based Practices in Addiction Treatment: Review and Recommendations for Public Policy.” Health Policy, vol. 97, no. 2-3, Oct. 2010, pp. 93–104, 10.1016/j.healthpol.2010.05.013. 
  6. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Alcohol’s Effects on the Body.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 14 Sept. 2011.

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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.

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