Why Length of Stay Matters

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If you’re considering entering treatment for addiction, you may have been wondering - does the length of my rehab stay really affect my sobriety years down the line? Years of research and evidence have given us the answer: A resounding yes. In this post you’ll find six insights into why length of stay matters – and an idea of how long an effective rehab stay ought to be. 


Why Length of Stay Matters

The most widespread treatment model by far is a 30 – day stay. This is due to the many different factors which often get in the way of rehab, including lack of time, lack of insurance coverage, employment, pet and childcare responsibilities, schooling, and the like.

Despite this, research has shown time and again that the longer an individual stays in treatment, the greater is their chance of success in achieving and sustaining sobriety. Each additional day spent in rehab serves as a precious investment towards long-term recovery. Why is this? 

The answer is that a longer length of stay gives you time.

  1. Time to Detox Safely
    Medical detoxification can be a long and painful process. Some substances, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, can even induce life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, and constant medical supervision and the proper amount time are always necessary to make sure the body is detoxed safely, comfortably, and effectively. Rushing detox, or initiating therapy with a patient who is not yet physically stable, is very unwise and will ultimately backfire.
  2. Time to Explore Addiction’s Causes
    More time in treatment gives a patient more time to explore the root causes of their addiction – whether it is past trauma, childhood experiences, mental health disorders, or an unhealthy environment. Only once an individual is able to pinpoint why they began using can they begin the real work of addressing these causes and learning to deal with them effectively. (Especially considering that most 30 – day programs begin with a 7- day detox, not that much time actually remains to engage in the intensive self – exploration that leads to true healing and change.)
  3. Time to Acclimate
    Another benefit of long-term rehab is that it gives the patient the opportunity to truly acclimate to and become comfortable in their new surroundings. They become used to their accommodations, their daily schedule, and most of all their primary therapist – all of which enables them to truly open up and throw themselves into their recovery. The more comfortable a person is in treatment, the more effective and long-lasting will be the therapy they receive. 
  4. Time for the Brain to Heal
    Addiction is a chronic and relapsing medical disease which has a proven physical effect on the brain. Many neural pathways involved in pleasure and reward cycles are destroyed by the harmful substances that addicted individuals ingest on a constant basis. Because of this, the brain requires time to restore this reward circuitry and fully heal from the trauma it sustained. A longer treatment model gives the brain the time it needs to recover before the patient returns to real life.
  5. Time Away from Triggers and Negative Environments
    Very often, a substance use disorder will evolve due to the negative elements and triggers in a patient’s natural environment. These can be family members who are addicts, a bad group of friends, close proximity to a drug dealer, extreme stress due to work or family situations, and the like. If a person returns to their toxic environment when they are not yet strong enough to deal with it, all of their previous triggers will hit them the moment they return – and the risk of relapse is high. Conversely, a longer stay in treatment lets a patient enter a healthy new environment, and gives them the chance to gain coping skills, learn to deal with triggers, and grow strong in their commitment to their sobriety. Upon returning home, they are set up for success. 
  6. Time to Build Community
    One of the most critical ingredients of success in long-term recovery is developing a strong connection to a vibrant, active recovery community. A longer stay in treatment gives patients time to build deep and genuine relationships with each other, and to together establish a solid sober support network that will accompany them far into the future ahead. 

In short, there is an extensive list of benefits to a longer length of stay in treatment – and at Avenues Recovery, we believe deeply in it. That’s why we offer both short-term and long-term rehab spanning every level of care, and that’s why our average length of stay is a rare 60 days. Wherever you may be in your recovery journey, we look forward to welcoming you - for whatever length of stay you may require!

Typical Length of Stay

So what is the usual length of stay for most clients in addiction rehab? 

It’s difficult to define length of stay, since it depends heavily on the individual and the severity of their addiction. Each person is unique, with different circumstances and challenges, and no two recovery journeys will look the same. Some people will require no more than a 27 day stay, while others can spend up to a year in rehab before they feel ready to face real life once again. 

That being said, rehabs can still be divided into two basic categories: short term rehab and long-term rehab. Short-term rehab is generally a 30-day program, and is the most common addiction treatment model nowadays, while long-term rehab can last anywhere between 90 days to 18 months (in extreme cases).

Find lasting sobriety at Avenues.

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