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How Long is Alcohol Rehab? What You Need to Know

Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 6/15/2023

Alcohol rehab is a lifelong commitment for millions of people around the world. When a recovering alcoholic seeks treatment, the purpose is typically to remain sober indefinitely. That said, the road to recovery takes time. Plus, each type of alcohol rehab program has different modalities and treatment lengths. 

As we navigate the complexities of alcohol abuse disorder (AUD), understanding the path to recovery becomes crucial. This journey often begins with alcohol rehab—a structured treatment plan designed to help individuals overcome their addiction and return to a life of sobriety. In this article, we’ll delve into what alcohol rehab is, its different types, and crucially, how long each of these treatments lasts.

What is Alcohol Rehab?

Alcohol rehab treats alcoholism, otherwise known as alcohol abuse disorder (AUD). According to SAMHSA, treatments for alcoholism vary and include a combination of therapy, medications, and counseling. Some alcohol rehabs also provide holistic treatments that include rock climbing, interacting with horses, and group therapy sessions. The type of alcohol rehab that works well for a recovering alcoholic varies on their needs and how serious the addiction is.

It’s also important to note that there are several levels of care for alcoholism treatment. Recovering alcoholics may enter programs where they remain at the treatment center for weeks or months, or there are less intensive options that include weekly therapy sessions.

What are the Types of Alcohol Rehab?

There are many types of alcohol rehab treatments and facilities. Each facility may also have a specialized evidence-based program in place for alcoholism. What’s more, it’s possible for alcohol rehabs to offer numerous types of rehab programs and they may cater to drugs and alcohol (co-occurring addictions) as well.

Below we list the types of alcohol rehab. Learn about each type of treatment to understand why some last longer than others.

Depending on your needs, each type of alcohol rehab is a suitable option. Before enrolling in a program, we always recommend reaching out to your healthcare provider. Also, make sure you contact your insurance company for information about whether or not treatment is covered.

In the sections that follow, we’ll detail how long each type of alcohol rehab typically lasts. Furthermore, we’ll explore the duration of therapy sessions, and the length of various holistic treatments, and ultimately guide you on how to find an alcohol rehab treatment facility near you. Stay with us as we explore this vital aspect of recovery from alcoholism.

How Long is Alcohol Rehab?

The duration of alcohol rehab depends on the type of program, the individual’s unique needs, and the severity of the addiction. Below we provide a general idea of how long each type of alcohol rehab might last.

How Long is Inpatient Alcohol Rehab? 

Inpatient alcohol rehab, also known as residential treatment, requires the individual to stay at the facility full-time for at least 28 days. This immersive program typically lasts from 30 days to six months, providing around-the-clock care and support. On average, expect inpatient alcohol rehab to last for 30 to 90 days.

How Long is Outpatient Alcohol Rehab? 

The average outpatient alcohol rehab program lasts for 12 to 20 sessions. Outpatient alcohol rehab is less intensive and allows individuals to live at home while attending treatment sessions. This flexibility makes it suitable for individuals with work or family commitments. The length of these programs can range from a few weeks to over a year, depending on the frequency of the sessions and the individual’s progress.

How Long is Alcohol Detox for Alcoholism? 

Detox duration can vary but typically lasts between 5-7 days. Alcohol detox is a critical initial step in many alcohol rehab programs. This process helps to safely manage withdrawal symptoms after stopping alcohol intake. Detox for alcoholism can be found at most inpatient and outpatient alcohol rehab centers. Some rehabs solely focus on detox.

How Long is Sober Living for Alcoholism? 

Sober living homes serve as a transitional environment for individuals recovering from alcoholism. Residents can stay until they feel ready to return to their everyday lives, which can take anywhere from a few months to a year, or even longer. While staying in a sober living facility, recovering alcoholics have responsibilities. These include working jobs and serving the community. Failing to maintain sobriety or sober living home requirements may lead to an early end of the program.

How Long Are Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) for Alcoholism? 

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) are a type of treatment where individuals attend long, frequent sessions but live at home. IOPs can last anywhere from a few months to a year, depending on the person’s needs and progress. Every intensive outpatient program is unique, so expect a wide variety of treatment lengths. Patients may also transition into outpatient programs or support groups after intensive outpatient care.

How Long are Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) for Alcoholism? 

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP), also known as day treatment, involve a high level of care without the need for overnight stays. PHPs can last for a few weeks to several months, with treatment sessions usually running five days a week for around six hours a day.

How Long Are Support Groups for Alcoholism?

Support groups for alcoholism like Alcoholics Anonymous are designed to last indefinitely. This means that recovering alcoholics should attend meetings for as long as possible to maintain sobriety. Furthermore, alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous have similar principles. Support groups for alcoholism usually last for around an hour and will meet weekly or monthly.

How Long is Alcohol Rehab for Drugs and Alcohol?

When dealing with co-occurring disorders, such as alcohol and drug addiction, the rehab process can be more complex and extended. This combined treatment usually lasts between 30 to 90 days for residential care, but it can extend up to a year or more for outpatient treatment, depending on the severity and the individual’s progress. The type of drug also influences the length of treatment. For example, opioid and alcohol addiction is one of the most challenging addictions to beat, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

How Long is the Sinclair Method for Alcoholism?

The Sinclair Method for alcoholism is usually a lifelong treatment for alcohol cravings that don’t require permanent sobriety. It is a treatment for alcohol addiction that uses a medication called naltrexone to help curb cravings and decrease alcohol intake. Unlike some other forms of alcohol treatment that require complete abstinence, the Sinclair Method allows for moderated drinking. The length of treatment using the Sinclair Method can vary widely between individuals, depending largely on personal goals and responses to the medication. Some people may begin to notice changes in their drinking habits within a few months, while others may need a year or more to achieve their desired results.

The process generally involves taking naltrexone about one hour before consuming alcohol, and over time, the desire to drink is expected to lessen. This occurs as the medication blocks the endorphins that are usually released when consuming alcohol, which reduces the rewarding feeling drinking can produce. However, it’s important to note that while the Sinclair Method can be effective for some, it’s not suitable for everyone. Individuals should always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new treatment program. Also, this method should be combined with counseling or other forms of support, as addressing the psychological aspects of addiction is crucial for recovery.

In the sections that follow, we will take a look at the duration of various therapeutic approaches to alcoholism, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), and family therapy. We will also discuss the length of holistic treatments such as equine and adventure therapy.

How Long Is Therapy for Alcoholism?

Therapy is a critical component of alcohol rehab. The most common types of therapy for alcoholism include family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and motivational interviewing (MI). Therapies for alcoholism must be administered by a professional or the treatment may not be effective.

Let’s delve into how long different therapeutic approaches might last.

How Long is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)? 

A typical CBT program for alcoholism could last between 12 to 20 sessions, depending on individual needs and progress. Sessions for CBT usually last for one hour and recovering alcoholics will meet with a therapist once or twice per week for treatment. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of treatment that helps individuals understand the connection between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

How Long is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)? 

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) focuses on providing individuals with new skills to manage painful emotions and decrease conflict in relationships. DBT programs for alcoholism can last between 6 months to a year. Like CBT, recovering alcoholics will meet with a therapist once or twice per week. Each DBT session lasts for about one hour but group sessions will last longer.

How Long Is Motivational Interviewing (MI)? 

MI sessions can range from one to four sessions but can be extended depending on the individual’s needs. Sessions usually last for about one or two hours depending on the type of therapy (individual vs group therapies). Motivational Interviewing (MI) aims to strengthen personal motivation for and commitment to a specific goal by eliciting and exploring the person’s reasons for change.

How Long is Family Therapy for Alcoholism?

Family therapy for alcoholism involves family members in the recovery process. This form of therapy typically lasts around 12 sessions, but it can vary based on family dynamics and the severity of the situation. The length of family therapy sessions varies depending on the size of the family and the severity of alcoholism within the family. In fact, some sessions may be upwards of two hours. On average, though, expect a therapist to require at least one hour of your family’s time.

Next, we’ll explore the length of holistic treatments for alcoholism, including equine and adventure therapy, and provide you with tips on finding alcohol rehab treatment near you.

How Long Are Holistic Treatments for Alcoholism?

Holistic treatments aim to treat the individual as a whole—mind, body, and spirit. These therapies often supplement traditional treatment methods and vary in duration depending on the type of therapy and the individual’s unique needs.

How Long is Equine Therapy for Alcoholism? 

A typical equine therapy program might last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, with one or two sessions per week. Equine therapy involves interaction with horses to promote emotional growth and personal development. The reason that equine therapy lasts long and meets frequently is that it’s usually a part of inpatient alcohol rehab. However, there are situations where it’s useful in outpatient programs.

How Long is Adventure Therapy for Alcoholism? 

These programs can range from a few days for intensive retreats to several months for ongoing programs. Adventure therapy uses experiential activities like rock climbing, hiking, or wilderness programs to foster self-esteem and social skills. Most adventure therapy programs are inpatient but there are some outpatient programs for things like rock climbing.

How Do I Find Alcohol Rehab Treatment Near Me?

Finding the right alcohol rehab treatment begins with understanding your specific needs. Research different treatment programs, consider the severity of the addiction, your budget, and whether you’d prefer an inpatient or outpatient setting.

Once you’ve identified your needs, you can use online resources to locate treatment centers in your area. Websites like SAMHSA’s treatment services locator can help you find rehab facilities based on your location. You can also consult with your healthcare provider, who can provide recommendations based on your medical history and personal circumstances. We also offer a vast network of verified alcohol rehab centers to help you narrow down your options.

Remember to verify the credentials of the rehab center and the treatment programs they offer. Make sure they are accredited and have licensed professionals on their staff. Reading reviews from past patients can also provide insight into what you can expect from the facility.