How Long Should You Stay in Treatment?

Entering treatment can be a daunting and overwhelming prospect for many. After all, choosing the right program for the right length of time can make the difference between life and death. Once you’ve decided to seek help, a thorough evaluation is generally necessary to select the right level and length of care. Discussion with your family, doctor, counselor or clinician can offer essential guidance. Here are some additional factors to consider when considering how long you should stay in treatment.

Usually, how long someone stays in treatment will depend on their specific situation. The first major consideration is what type of care is most appropriate. Levels of care include inpatient, outpatient, and intensive outpatient.

The central difference between inpatient and outpatient programs is that inpatient treatment requires clients to live full-time at the treatment center. There are also intensive outpatient or partial hospitalization programs that offer a more intensive treatment experience than a fully outpatient program, but don’t require clients to live full-time at the center. These programs often offer supportive off-site environments, like sober living homes.

Although outpatient care is a popular option as it allows people to continue their day-to-day lives, inpatient care is more appropriate for many, especially those who need more intensive care or the aid of a supportive environment.

Aside from the level of care, additional factors to consider include:

  • Treatment costs and insurance coverage
  • The severity of your case
  • The presence of co-occurring mental health issues
  • The support and resources available post-treatment

Treatment Costs

Unfortunately, quality treatment can be expensive. According to the Nation Survey on Drug Use and Health,  37.3 percent of people who needed treatment over a 3 year research period didn’t receive it, citing their lack of insurance or an inability to afford it. As such, many drop out of treatment sooner than they would otherwise if cost was not a factor. Before checking into a center, find out what kind of coverage you have or the costs involved to have a clear picture of how long you can stay without excessive financial burden.

How Severe is Your Case?

A vital factor when considering how long you should stay in treatment is how advanced your addiction or disorder is. For those with severe cases, a longer stay will almost certainly be beneficial. Progressing through the levels of care, from inpatient to outpatient to a supportive living facility, can help ensure that the transition back to “normal” life is successful.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Mental illness and trauma often accompany addiction. Multiple national surveys found that about half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives will also experience a substance use disorder and vice versa. For those with co-occurring disorders, a longer stay where they can receive adequate treatment will be critical, as without addressing the whole person, treatment alone may not suffice. Medication management and additional forms of therapy can prove lifesaving to these clients.

What Awaits you After Treatment?

For some, a longer stay in treatment is in order as their lives outside of treatment are rife with opportunities to relapse, such as family members who drink or use, or domestic violence situations. In other cases, a patient has abused substances for so long that they lack the basic life skills needed for successful re-integration into the outside world. For these folks, a more intensive program with a longer support plan is essential for sustainable recovery.

A sober living home can be a good place to build a foundation for long-term recovery following treatment. They offer a safe, supportive environment to stay on a short or long-term basis, free of external triggers like drugs, alcohol, or toxic environments. Furthermore, they offer structure and accountability in a community of those with shared goals. Many people form life-long friendships in such environments, and lay the groundwork for engagement in a 12-step program or other support group.

Is a Longer Stay More Likely to be Successful?

Research studies indicate that lengthier stays in treatment are associated with better outcomes. According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, a 90 day stay correlated with higher success rates. The organization cites research that compared addicts who were treated for fewer than 90 days with those who were treated longer, and discovered that 35 percent of the group with shorter treatment durations relapsed the year after treatment, whereas only 17 percent of the group that stayed longer did.

Treatment in Portland

No matter what your situation is, there is a program that’s right for you. SLO Recovery’s team of expert clinicians and staff work alongside clients to create an individualized treatment plan, creating a foundation for thorough treatment and lasting recovery. Get in touch today to see how we can help.