Drug and Alcohol - Sobriety

How Long Does Outpatient Drug Rehab Last?

How Long Does Outpatient Drug Rehab Last?

If you're considering an outpatient program as a starting point or additional step in your addiction recovery, call The Edge Treatment Center today.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol


April 14, 2022

Outpatient treatment has many benefits and can be a crucial step in the recovery process for many individuals who are recovering from substance use disorder (SUD). For people who have just begun to realize they have a problem, outpatient care can be a good first step toward recovery. 

Even if substances haven't taken a drastic toll on one's life yet, recovery from addiction is a long-term process and frequently requires multiple phases of treatment. Therefore, for those who have been struggling for a while or have relapsed after an initial period of sobriety, outpatient treatment can be a great next step, continuation of the process, or way to get back on track in their recovery journey.

Even after inpatient care and hard-earned sobriety, it is important not to mistake one's accomplishment for a permanent cure. Relapse can and does occur, but it shouldn’t be seen as a failure. Rather, it should serve to exemplify the chronic nature of addiction and the need to reevaluate aftercare plans, up to and including re-entering treatment.

A step down from residential treatment to outpatient treatment is one of the most effective methods of addiction recovery, and it may be exactly what someone needs to live out long-term sobriety.

What Types of Outpatient Treatment Programs Are There?

Most drug rehabs offer several outpatient stages as part of their programs. They include:

How Long Should I Expect My Outpatient Program to Last?

Seeking addiction treatment can be intimidating and confusing, but it is necessary to start or continue one's process of recovery. People often wonder about the duration of treatment they may need. So, how long does an outpatient program typically last?

Before one starts an outpatient treatment program, it’s important to recognize that no two addiction recovery programs are going to look exactly the same. The appropriate duration of outpatient care varies by individual and depends on the individual's types of problems and the degree to which their addiction has progressed.

The best treatment programs will monitor the effectiveness of outpatient treatment on a case-by-case basis and adjust methods, pacing, and more accordingly to achieve optimal results. As far as time goes, the duration of an outpatient program is not fixed or set in stone and may change even throughout a single individual's treatment process.

Because there is no one-size-fits-all treatment program, it is hard to determine precisely how long one's outpatient treatment may last. While it is common for outpatient addiction care to last a year or longer, one should anticipate their treatment to last at least three months, dependent upon many factors that professionals will monitor throughout treatment. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that most outpatient treatment plans should last a minimum of 90 days to be effective. 

Is Long-Term Outpatient Care More Effective?

Although outpatient treatment centers generally require a minimum of three months to be effective, it’s important to note that the best outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment. Because it takes between three weeks and three months for an addiction to develop, staying in treatment for longer than three months may help build a stronger foundation for long-term sobriety to be built upon.

Spending a long time in treatment allows more time for the brain and body to heal from dependence, more time to practice new skills learned during the treatment process, and more time for healthy habits to be established and maintained. All of these are crucial components that will feed into a healthy and happy sober life long after leaving the treatment center.

What if Treatment Seems Like It May Be Too Long of a Commitment?

Learning and thinking about the length of time it takes to overcome an addiction can be incredibly daunting. However, it’s important to continue to recognize the significance of long-term treatment as it aids in maintaining long-term sobriety. Beginning the process of outpatient addiction treatment with realistic expectations can help. 

Don’t forget that one's body chemistry and the way substance abusers' brains were once wired have changed, which is why the process can end up taking such an extended period of time. The more one is patient with the treatment process and the more one accepts that they need it, the more effective it can be.

Seeking Outpatient Treatment

Because adequate treatment is dependent upon meeting the specific needs of each individual, it’s important to pick an outpatient program that can tailor the healing process to one's specific life circumstances and needs.

The person in treatment should not have to be the one to make the call as to how long their treatment program will last. If someone is struggling with addiction and needs flexibility because of career, academic, familial, or other obligations, outpatient care may be the right choice.

In addition, those who have previously completed an inpatient program and have relapsed may find outpatient programs to be a good next step. Many programs will finish treatment with outpatient care once residential care has ended.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or relapse, outpatient care may be an effective treatment option for you. While it may be nerve-wracking not to know exactly how long it may last, it is important to reassure yourself that it will all be worth it to maintain long-term sobriety.

At The Edge Treatment Center, our staff will guide you along the path to recovery in whatever way will work best for you. We use outpatient care to focus on avoiding relapses and reaching long-term recovery goals.

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