How Long Does Alcohol Rehab Take?

Detox is the First Step

When choosing the right rehabilitation center, you may be wondering how long does alcohol rehab take? Incidentally, each individual’s recovery journey is unique. This means that the length of time that it will take to complete an alcohol rehab program may vary for everyone. The most common timeframes for recovery services are typically 30, 60, and 90 days.

These numbers may or may not include the time needed to spend in detox as well as aftercare. However, it should not matter how long it takes. Overcoming an alcohol addiction is the most important factor in choosing the right program for recovery. If it helps, look at detox, treatment, and aftercare as separate parts.

Up to 17% of those with alcohol use disorder or dependency receive some type of treatment. Of these, about one-third of those who attend treatment for alcohol dependence are still free from alcohol use one year later. To determine the length of time a rehab program takes, it’s important to add up all phases of treatment including detox, treatment and aftercare.

Detox is the First Step

When someone stops using alcohol, the body goes through withdrawal. This process produces serious symptoms that are possibly life-threatening. This makes it important to undergo detox in a controlled environment with medical supervision. Even if the individual chooses outpatient therapy to overcome dependence on alcohol, inpatient detox has better outcomes.

Regardless of the detox method selected, many people feel symptoms in as little as two hours. Most individuals experience the worst symptoms at around 72 hours with full detox complete in about two weeks. However, for long-term users or very heavy drinkers, symptoms take as long as a week to peak with completion of withdrawal in up to a month. In an inpatient setting, detox is often part of the program. This allows those overcoming alcohol dependence to start treatment immediately after the peak of the withdrawal symptoms is over.

Different Types of Alcohol Rehab Programs Last Different Lengths of Time

When looking for a treatment program whether for yourself or a loved one, a variety of choices are available. The alcohol rehab program selection should be based on several factors. These include how long the individual has been dependent on alcohol, how much they drink, and how much alcohol use impacts that person’s daily life.

Inpatient Rehab for Alcohol

Alcohol Rehab

Inpatient programs provide the most intensive treatment options. This is because the individual actually lives at the center or residential facility until the completion of the program. This can be ideal for someone who has an unstable living environment or lacks social support.

Detox provided with inpatient treatment allows the individual to receive around-the-clock care that’s necessary. Additionally, individuals can count on this same level of care throughout the course of treatment. It’s less likely that patients can access alcohol during the program because the individual remains inside of the facility under supervision.

Benefits of Inpatient Rehab for Alcohol


Incidentally, group and individual therapy sessions, life skills training, 12-step programming, and other planned activities provide structure to the entire day. Since many individuals with alcohol dependence issues do not feel in control, this structure is a welcome change. Medication, when directed, helps reduce cravings.


Inpatient treatment provides the opportunity for someone to focus exclusively on sobriety without worrying about everyday concerns. The cost of inpatient treatment includes meals and housing, and may also involve daily exercise and wellness assistance as well.


Depending on the person’s needs, an individual stays in inpatient rehab for alcohol for 30, 60 or 90 days. Following this, the dependent person goes to either an outpatient or some type of aftercare program for continuing care. 30-day alcohol rehab programs are common in an inpatient setting. However, the needs of someone who is dependent on alcohol will determine the actual length of stay.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient programs for alcohol treatment typically involve several sessions per week. Group and individual therapy are just part of the process. Individuals might attend meetings and complete a 12-step program. Medication may be provided to those who are best suited.

Those who have a stable job, living situation and support network often prefer outpatient settings. Because they are not in treatment for the entire day or even every day, their schedule is more flexible. It’s easier for individuals to continue to work or find childcare for a few hours here and there.

Caveats of Outpatient Care

However, it is important that the person has good support and buckles down to stay sober since access to alcohol is available. Additionally, because of the small amount of time spent each week in actual treatment, outpatient programs may be longer than inpatient options. Some 90-day alcohol treatment centers may provide outpatient rehab.

Short-term options are available in the form of intensive outpatient programs. These treatment centers provide therapy for six to eight hours a day on a more intensive schedule. While not as flexible, intensive outpatient care still allows the individual time for work or family outside of the treatment center.


Although there are many outpatient aftercare programs, there are also residential options available. An aftercare program, a halfway house or residential living are some names used to refer to this continuing care. Aftercare programs reinforce what the individual learned during treatment. This helps the person put those skills into practice in the real world.

While outpatient aftercare may consist of continued counseling and meetings, inpatient aftercare provides a stable living environment so that the person can get back on their feet while still maintaining more freedom from a real-life setting. This support helps someone who needs more job skills or helps in finding a place to live while maintaining sobriety.

Choosing the Amount of Time to Spend In Alcohol Rehab

Inpatient Rehab for Alcohol

There are many factors that influence how long someone should stay in a rehabilitation program. Since alcohol dependence is a chronic illness, the longer someone can stay in treatment, the better the results.

If any of these pertain to you or your loved one, a longer stay is generally recommended:

  • Heavy or binge drinking
  • Long-term alcohol use
  • Difficulty quitting
  • Continued relapse following treatment
  • Work, family, or life difficulties due to drinking
  • Alcohol dependence with homelessness
  • Comorbid alcohol dependence and mental illness

No matter how long the treatment program is, the important thing is to get help with recovery. When deciding on how long does alcohol rehab take, make sure to spend enough time in a program to get real results.

Pros and Cons of Longer Treatment

Long-Term Alcohol Rehab in West Virginia

Research shows that individuals who attend long-term alcohol rehab are more likely to be successful. In fact, treatment programs that last at least 90 days are more effective than those of less time. Accordingly, there are pros and cons to attending long-term recovery services.

Long-Term Support

When attending treatment for longer periods of time, someone is able to access a licensed support network during the recovery process. Since sobriety is ongoing, it’s important to have continuing care for as long as possible. This helps to avoid relapse or to bounce back more quickly after a slip.

Higher Success Rates

As stated, research shows that those who participate in long-term alcohol rehab have overall higher success rates. This is measured by the length of abstinence from alcohol, overall wellness, and quality of life.

Greater Life Skills

The longer someone continues to get treatment and support, the more life skills they develop over time. Improved skills allow an individual to avoid the pitfalls that result in relapse. The more life skills a person has, the greater their quality of life overall.

Positive Influence

When an individual is overcoming alcohol dependence, it’s easy to slip back into old ways. By staying in treatment for longer, the individual has a chance to create new friendships and social networks with sober peers.

Continued Structure

For those with a busy life, continuing care seems like a burden. With individual or group counseling, recovery meetings, and other scheduled therapies, some people become overwhelmed. However, addressing this issue is important because continued sobriety is the main goal.

Drop Out Risk

The longer the treatment program, the higher the risk of dropouts. If someone thinks they are better or gets bored with keeping up, they might quit. Consequently, this increases the risk of relapse. It’s important to be persistent and stick with the program.

Continuing Costs

Unfortunately, the type or length of a program can determine its cost. Many insurance companies cover alcohol rehab. However, there are limitations on the specific programs and length of time for provided coverage. Check with the insurance provider for more information. If there is no insurance coverage, some treatment centers offer payment options, especially if finances are tight.

Long-Term Alcohol Rehab in West Virginia 

If you or a loved one needs help with recovering from dependence on alcohol, contact us today for more information and to decide which program is best suited to your unique situation whether 90-day alcohol treatment centers, 30-day alcohol rehab programs, or something more tailored to your individual needs.

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