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How Long is a Rehab Program for Alcohol Addiction?

It’s crucial to understand that every person has unique needs, meaning no two people will have the same experience in treatment. The duration of alcohol treatment will be based on the type of program and your individual needs but usually range between 28 and 90 days. 

Some people opt for a medically supervised detox-only treatment which can be done in about a week but this does not set one up for success as they leave detox without having learned any skills or gained insight into their addiction and underlying issues through therapy.

People who take part in longer programs, combining detox, inpatient, outpatient therapy, sober living and aftercare will have the best success outcomes. 

The most important thing is to admit you have a problem and seek help, not focus on how long the process will take. Recovery is a life-long commitment and is a change in lifestyle, not something that you can be cured of in a specific amount of time.

How Long Does Alcohol Detox Take?

Alcohol detox is the process of eliminating alcohol from the body. It can be done at home or in a medical setting but doing it at home comes with risks as depending on how much you have been drinking and for how long, the withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous.

During medically supervised detox, individuals will be monitored for complications and usually be given medications to help manage the withdrawal symptoms. Detox is the first step in a comprehensive treatment plan for alcohol use disorder and should be followed by behavioral therapy and support groups.

Factors to consider that affect alcohol detox:

  • amount one has been drinking
  • how long one has been drinking
  • age
  • weight
  • underlying health conditions
  • co-occurring mental health
  • alcohol and substance use history

Withdrawal Symptoms

The majority of people experience withdrawal symptoms within 6 hours of their last drink and they typically worsen over the next 48 hours.

Symptoms peak within 72 hours and can last for about two weeks, depending on your circumstances. For example, some heavy drinkers will have mild withdrawal symptoms for as long as a month.

Withdrawal symptoms:

  • Rapid mood swings / irritability
  • Anxiety / depression
  • Insomnia / disturbed sleep
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea / vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite  
  • Intense cravings for alcohol
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures  

In order for patients to start therapy at the inpatient program, the worst of their symptoms must pass.

How long do withdrawal symptoms last?

The length of time is different for everyone and depends on one’s history – how much was consumed and for how long. The physical withdrawal symptoms will normally peak 48 to 72 hours after the last drink and will last an average of 7 days but up to 14 for heavy drinkers.

The symptoms that are present after two weeks are usually more psychological and should be addressed though therapy and support groups. If not, the risk of relapse if very high as one will not have the coping skills needed to maintain sobriety.

Although different for each person, this timeline gives a general idea of the stages of withdrawal:  

1. Stage One: in the first six to 12 hours, one will experience headaches, anxiety, stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, insomnia

2. Stage Two: from 12 to 48 hours, hallucinations and seizures are possible

3. Stage Three: from 48 to 72 hours, symptoms include fever, disorientation, sweating, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and delirium tremens which can be fatal

4. Stage Four: withdrawal symptoms usually start to improve after 72 hours 

What causes withdrawal symptoms?

Chronic alcohol consumption changes brain chemistry in the following ways:

  • Alcohol inhibits the functionality of GABA which is a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of relaxation.
  • It also inhibits the effect of glutamate which is a neurotransmitter that induces feelings of excitability.

When a person stops drinking, these neurotransmitters are affected causing uncomfortable symptoms.

Something called the kindling effect is when withdrawal becomes more and more severe each time increasing risks. 

Ways to manage withdrawal symptoms:

  1. Get plenty of rest: When going through alcohol withdrawal, it is important to get plenty of rest. 
  2. Eat healthy: Eating healthy meals and snacks can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Try to focus on eating foods that are high in protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates.
  3. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, can help to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and helps to flush toxins from the body.
  4. Exercise: Exercise is an important part of managing alcohol withdrawal. Moderate exercise can help to reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
  5. Take supplements: Taking certain supplements such as vitamin B, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and ginseng can all help to reduce withdrawal symptoms.
  6. Seek professional help: Alcohol detox should always be done under supervision so withdrawal symptoms can be monitored. It can be very dangerous to detox at home alone. 

How Long is Inpatient Alcohol Rehab?

Inpatient treatment for alcohol addiction typically lasts between 28 and 90 days, depending on the individual’s needs.

The length of treatment is determined by a variety of factors, including the severity of the addiction, any co-occurring medical or mental health issues and the individual’s level of motivation to change. It is important to note that longer treatment programs are linked to higher success rates for recovery. 

Inpatient alcohol treatment, also called residential treatment, requires clients to live on-site under the supervision of the team. Clients participate in extensive group and individual therapy sessions as well as various things like holistic therapy, 12-step groups and medication-assisted treatment.

Program length and what the program offers will vary. The friendly staff at Luxe Recovery are happy to discuss our treatment options and find a solution that works for your individual needs. 

Inpatient treatment is designed to:

  • provide a safe, structured and supportive environment for individuals to focus on their recovery without the distractions and temptations of daily life
  • include a combination of medical, psychological and social interventions to help individuals address the physical and psychological aspects of their alcohol use disorder
  • can help individuals gain insight into their condition, develop healthier coping skills and build a strong foundation for life-long sobriety

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

One of the best therapies used for alcohol treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). which is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing thought patterns and behaviors to address the underlying causes of alcohol use disorder.

It helps people identify and correct dysfunctional beliefs and behaviors that can lead to problem drinking. CBT also helps people learn to cope with stress and other triggers for alcohol use, manage cravings and develop healthier ways of dealing with difficult emotions.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medications used for alcohol detox typically depend on the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Common medications used to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms include benzodiazepines, such as Librium, Valium, and Ativan, as well as anticonvulsants, such as Neurontin and Lyrica.

Other medications used to help ease mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms include anti-nausea medications, such as Zofran, and sleep-aids, such as Ambien. In some cases, medications used to treat underlying mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, may also be prescribed.

Sober Living Treatment Options

  • Sober living is a form of alcohol treatment that provides a supportive living environment for individuals who have recently completed a residential alcohol treatment program or who are in the process of recovering from alcohol addiction.
  • Sober living homes are usually a type of transitional housing that provides a safe and secure environment for individuals to work on their recovery.
  • Residents of sober living homes may be required to attend 12-step meetings, get a sponsor, attend outpatient therapy, take part in life skills classes and develop sober living skills.
  • The goal of sober living is to provide a supportive and encouraging environment for individuals to learn how to live a healthy and productive sober lifestyle.

How Long is Outpatient Treatment for Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol treatment clinics using a continuum of care approach to substance misuse are quite successful. This involves the therapist continuously moving the client toward their next level of treatment while assisting them in making a seamless transition from a higher to a lower level of care. This is usually the transition from inpatient to outpatient treatment. 

Outpatient treatment enables individuals to receive care without staying in a residential facility. It is an ideal option for individuals who have a supportive home environment, as it allows them to attend treatment while still living at home and managing their day-to-day responsibilities.

Outpatient programs (OP) and intensive outpatient programs (IOP) offer groups, educational and individual therapy sessions with a focus on things like relapse prevention, life skills and coping skills.

Treatment may also involve other therapeutic activities such as art or music therapy and meditation. You attend various sessions and groups 2-5 days a week with hours, number of sessions and program length to be determined based on what the program offers and what level of support the person needs.

Outpatient treatment for alcohol addiction is designed to provide the necessary support, guidance and resources to help individuals overcome their addiction, while still allowing them to maintain their independence and carry on with their daily lives.

Importance of Aftercare

A crucial component of recovering from alcohol addiction is having an aftercare plan in place.

Aftercare for alcohol addiction is a comprehensive and integrated approach to recovery that supports individuals in sustaining long-term sobriety.

Aftercare for alcohol addiction typically includes a combination of therapies, social services and self-care strategies to help individuals stay abstinent and maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Aftercare services typically include:

  • Individual and group counseling can help individuals gain insight into their addiction and address underlying issues that may have contributed to the development of their addiction.
  • 12-step programs provide individuals with a supportive and nonjudgmental environment for developing a strong recovery network and learning effective relapse prevention strategies. These therapeutic communities empower people by enabling them to maintain relationships with other people in recovery, be held accountable for their sobriety and access support when required.
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can help reduce cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms while they focus on recovery.
  • Life skills training can help individuals learn how to better manage stress and other triggers that may lead to relapse. 
  • Self-care activities such as yoga, meditation and healthy eating can help individuals stay mentally and physically healthy during recovery.
  • Social support from family, friends and peers can help individuals stay motivated and connected to their recovery journey.

Things to Consider When Looking for Alcohol Addiction Treatment 

  • The duration of effective alcohol addiction treatment depends on the individual and their situation. For some, the treatment may last a few weeks while others may need months or even years of therapy.
  • The most effective treatment plans involve a combination of physical and psychological therapies to help the patient achieve and maintain sobriety.
  • No single treatment works for everyone and the length of treatment needs to be tailored to the individual’s specific needs.
  • The duration of treatment can vary widely, depending on the severity of the addiction and the patient’s overall mental and physical health, ranging from a few weeks in a residential treatment center to several months in an outpatient setting.
  • Generally, the longer and more comprehensive the treatment, the better the outcome for the patient.
  • Inpatient treatment centers provide the most intensive and comprehensive care for alcohol addiction and are often the most successful in helping people to achieve and maintain sobriety. In some cases, an inpatient treatment plan could last up to 12 weeks, depending on the individual’s progress.

Find Help for Alcohol Abuse Today

When it comes to effective alcohol addiction treatment, everyone has individual needs. The helpful and knowledgeable staff at Luxe Recovery are here to assist you in developing a treatment plan to help you stop drinking and maintain sobriety. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you or a loved one are battling alcohol addiction.

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