Long-term Rehab generally refers to inpatient rehab programs lasting 60 days, 90 days, and even longer.
On the other hand, Short-term Rehab usually refers to outpatient rehab lasting 28 days or even less.
Although long-term rehab varies widely from program to program, and costs more than outpatient rehab, it is generally accepted that where any serious addiction is concerned, the more time spent in a rehab facility, the better.
In other words, if you really want to recover for life, and you can muster the time and resources, long-term residential alcohol or drug rehab is the only way to go.


The answer to the question “How long does rehab take?” is simply this: Rehab takes as long as it takes!

  • Everyone’s situation is different
  • Everyone has different problems
  • Everyone’s addiction is different, even involving the same substances

  • Everyone must deal with the many reasons that drugs or alcohol came to rule their life
  • There’s no way to predict how long it will take to address all the issues one needs to address to achieve life-long sobriety.



One of the most telling reasons for the lack of success of short-term 28-day programs lies not in the severity of the addiction, but simply in the lack of time to get enough done.

Many people who have tried short-term outpatient programs say it can take at least a week to fully “arrive” as a patient, become acquainted with the program, friendly enough to trust the new people surrounding you, and even more time to become accustomed to what’s required to succeed.



As well as averaging at least 60 days, and usually 90 days or more, long-term rehab simply offers more of what short-term rehab offers — especially the most vital element — time!

Long-term rehab offers:

  • Enough to time to “arrive” and become familiar with the rehab people, program and surroundings
  • Enough time to really come to know yourself
  • Enough time to learn that life without drugs or alcohol is not only possible, but that it is better than you remember it to be
  • Enough time to learn how to live the rest of your life without the crutch of substance abuse
  • Enough time preparing to leave after achieving the inner sense of peace that comes with recovery
  • Often, extended rehab counseling services for as long as you need it after leaving the residential facility.


Many studies have examined the success rates (and failure rates) of dozens of alcohol and drug rehab programs. The problem with most such studies is that no two drug rehab programs are the same — just as no two addicts have the same problems, even when they’re addicted to the same substance.

Yet in spite of all the differences in programs, in people and in their addictions, every study has shown that the longer an addict spends in drug rehab dealing his or her own unique addiction, the more successful the results are.

These findings were apparent regardless of any other factors, including:

  • The setting of the drug rehab facility
  • The content or philosophy of the program
  • The methods used to apply the philosophy
  • The addiction services provided by the program.



Although long-term rehab has generally proven more successful than short-term rehab, some studies also suggest that the earlier someone acts to treat an addiction by entering detox and rehab, the better the outcome it will be.

This has been found to be true in the majority of cases, regardless of the type of alcohol or drug rehab program, and regardless even of the length of stay in treatment.

One study in particular found the two most successful factors for alcohol rehab to be:

  1. How soon the addict enters rehab after addiction begins
  2. How long the addict stays in the program.


The earlier alcoholics got into rehab, the more successful for both short-term and long-term recoveries. But the longer in rehab program, the more successful it was than for those who left earlier.

The point is: It is vitally important to catch an addiction as soon as possible, and get going with treatment. Waiting even a day or a week adds to the risk of failure.

And every hour spent outside of treatment also invites disaster — auto accidents, arrests, family break-ups — before you even have a chance at drug rehab.

NOTE: Drug rehab always comes after drug detox. Choose the right kind of drug detox program to help make sure that you, or the person you are helping, has the most successful drug rehab .