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Why a 90 Day Rehab Program Is Better For Long-Term Addiction

You’ve been suffering with alcohol or drug addiction for years. Your life is a mess. You’ve hit rock bottom. Your family is torn apart. You see no way out. You need help. You look for help and you discover you could be drug or alcohol free in just 30 days. Your life-long addiction solved in 30 days. 30 days! It sounds too good to be true. Unfortunately it probably is.

It’s human nature to want a quick, uncomplicated solution for all of life’s challenges, so 30 days of rehab sounds great doesn’t it? You could just tell friends, family and colleagues you’re going on an extended holiday and then 30 days later, problem solved. Well, the problem is that it’s likely not to be solved long-term. After 30 days of rehab you may have successfully completed detox and started your recovery. But for a long-term addiction, 30 days is just not enough time to treat the physical and psychological issues of your addiction to enjoy long-term recovery.

Scientific evidence conclusively demonstrates that the longer the treatment for addiction and mental health issues, the greater likelihood of long-term abstinence and recovery.

So you’re thinking if there’s actual proof that 90 days in rehab offers superior rates of success why are rehabilitation centres still offering 30 day drug and alcohol recovery programs? We can’t talk for others but we offer 30 day residential treatment for people who might have a short-term addiction where there are no complex or long-term consequences of their addiction to address. Our qualified and experienced staff will determine with you the best treatment program for you.

Where the 30 day rehab program started

30 day drug and alcohol rehab programs were initially instigated by the military in the 1970s. 30 days allowed service personnel to undergo rehabilitation without having to be re-assigned to a different unit upon return.

This 30 day rehab model then progressed to civilian rehab as health insurance companies began to only approve thirty day treatment models. This 30 day program was never based on medical evidence, or demonstrated significant success rates.

What do we now know about the best treatment length for drug and alcohol addiction?

We now have the benefit of scientific studies to compare long-term recovery rates on short and long-term treatment.

Research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that when an individual participates for 90 days or more in a structured residential treatment (or combination of residential/outpatient treatment) the outcomes for recovery are more successful than short duration (30 days or less) programs.

The DATOS study, which looked at long-term recovery over a 5 year post-treatment period, found that patients with dual diagnosis (drug dependence and concurrent mental health disorders) who dropped out of treatment before ninety days had relapse rates similar to those who had only stayed in a program for a few days. However, after 90 days, relapse rates dropped markedly.

Our 90 day drug and alcohol recovery program is underpinned by this strong and growing evidence base for the long term effectiveness of longer duration programs.

So why does a successful treatment program take so long?

Here are a few reasons why research has proven 90 days is better:

Drug addiction effects brain function

  • Drug addiction affects brain function, particularly neurotransmitter pathways. This changes how the brain works.
  • Specifically, drug abuse impacts parts of the brain that relate to feelings of reward and motivation, behaviour and impulse control and learning and memory.
  • Drugs impact directly how a user feels and expresses emotion and once in detox and recovery, the brain physiologically “re-wires” itself so that the addict can re-learn to feel appropriate emotions without the addition of drugs/alcohol.
  • Restoring normal brain function is a process that can take months to achieve, depending upon the substance abused.

Mental health and drug addiction 

  • It is well recognised that there is a reciprocal connection between drug abuse and mental illness.
  • Successful treatment of drug addiction and mental illness requires “Dual Diagnosis” which takes time to assess and correctly diagnose. For example, a patient may be withdrawn from all medication and drugs so that an accurate diagnosis can be made. Depending on the substance and/or the mental illness, withdrawal and detox can take longer than 30 days.
  • A “Dual Diagnosis” is inherently higher in complexity than either a mental illness diagnosis or addiction diagnosis alone and requires specialist care and treatment.

The cornerstone of recovery from addiction is behavioural change

  • Addiction is a disease and as such, requires treatment. It is unreasonable to expect that an addict, who has been in the grip of their addiction for several years, will change in thirty days or less.
  • Many of our successful clients experience transformative changes and insight into their addictive behaviour between the 60 to 90 day part of their residential program and will continue to change as time passes.
  • Permanent behavioural change requires repetitive practice. A longer duration treatment provides addicts with the chance to put the tools and techniques learned into practice in a safe and supportive environment.
  • Repetitive practice of new skills allows the brain’s reward system to reinforce these positive experiences, which in turn lessens the chance of relapsing

In summary:

  • Better recovery: Less chance of relapse
  • Addiction is a disease
  • Detoxing can take 30 days
  • The brain needs time to change
  • It takes time to break denial
  • The consequences of addiction need addressing
  • Time to address co-occuring mental health disorders
  • There’s time for the whole family to heal
  • Time for support system to be made

Do your research first

So before you get excited about the possibility of being addiction-free within 30 days, talk to us about your addiction history and find out if 30 days really is suitable for you. If you do pick a 30 day rehab without properly researching the treatment you need, you may find yourself relapsing shortly afterwards, meaning another attempt at rehab is necessary.

You may also be interested in:

90 Day Addiction Treatment
Two Years On, Life Couldn’t Be Better
Are Mental Health and Addiction Connected?

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