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Addiction Treatment: Is 30 Days Enough?

Addiction Treatment Is 30 Days Enough

We often see claims that 30 days, 60 days, or even 90 days is enough time for addiction treatment. Here are our thoughts:

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Addiction Recovery


August 18, 2021

In the treatment industry, we often see claims that 30, 60, or even 90 days are enough to fully treat the issues of substance use disorders. For a few, this may be a workable solution, but that is not a common experience.

The truth is that 30-day addiction treatment is not enough in most cases. Let us explain a few reasons why:

Addiction Is a Chronic, Relapsing Disease

Conquering a substance use disorder is not a “30-day challenge”. Emotional sobriety requires that we take the time to tackle co-occurring disorders, improve mental health, and rebuild a life without problematic substance usage.

While it is certainly possible to get sober within 30 days, sobriety is not the finish line. It is instead part of a lifelong recovery journey that does not end with discharge. As our Clinical Director, Jeremy Arzt, LMFT, MA says,

“Addiction isn’t just about drugs or alcohol. It’s also a lifestyle that for many become a habit…so being sober isn’t about just staying away from drugs and alcohol. It’s really about how to live your life and develop different relationships with your environment and the people around you to not only break those habits but create new ones”.

Hear more from Jeremy on whether 30 days is enough time for addiction treatment, below:

30-day treatment is barely enough time to break an average person’s habit, let alone relearn how to lead life and relationships successfully. This is especially true early on:

Early Recovery Is a Vulnerable Time

Newfound sobriety can be tricky and frightening in some cases. No longer can substances numb the daily stressors and existent traumas. In many cases, addiction is so all-consuming that it has destroyed relationships, finances, and any sense of stability.

To compound the issue, a study on early abstinence found that even in early recovery there is a marked reduction in cognitive performance, including working memory and executive function. (Rapeli et al., 2006, p. 5)

So, what we are left with is a heightened state of emotion that we are unused to coping with, and the overwhelming task of picking up and rebuilding a life while not operating at complete functionality.

Additionally, this sense of overwhelm is a common trigger for relapse, which becomes more dangerous because tolerance has gone significantly down through abstinence. A study on methamphetamine recovery found that relapse occurred within 6 months in 50% of those studied. (Brecht & Herbeck, 2014, p. 24)

What this tells us is that the most dangerous period of recovery is within the first year of sobriety, and continuing care is critical to improving the chances of long-term recovery.   

Long-Term Addiction Treatment Leads to Long-Term Addiction Recovery

Long-term addiction treatment has been shown to make long-term addiction recovery much more likely. Multiple studies confirm that long-term addiction care, particularly aftercare following inpatient treatment, is significantly correlated with continued abstinence and/or long-term recovery of any kind.

One study found that at least six months of aftercare treatment was “significantly associated” with abstinence with patients at the 18 – 42 month follow up. (Smyth et al., 2005, p. 363).

This period of time allows for recovery while learning relapse prevention techniques, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy coping mechanisms. Six months also allows for time to handle legal issues, reconstruct relationships, and find work or education.

In short, no, 30 days is not enough treatment for addictions in most cases. Long-term treatment has greater rates of success and creates a more reasonable time frame with which to tackle all of life’s stressors.


Brecht, M.-L., & Herbeck, D. (2014). Time to relapse following treatment for methamphetamine use: A long-term perspective on patterns and predictors. Drug and Alcohol Dependence139, 18–25.

Rapeli, P., Kivisaari, R., Autti, T., Kähkönen, S., Puuskari, V., Jokela, O., & Kalska, H. (2006). Cognitive function during early abstinence from opioid dependence: a comparison to age, gender, and verbal intelligence matched controls. BMC Psychiatry6(1), 1–10.

Smyth, B. P., Barry, J., Lane, A., Cotter, M., O’Neill, M., Quinn, C., & Keenan, E. (2005). In-patient treatment of opiate dependence: medium-term follow-up outcomes. British Journal of Psychiatry187(4), 360–365.

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