Reasons To Enter Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment programs are generally considered a great option during early addiction recovery because they provide a supervised environment without the common distractions and triggers involved with everyday life. The idea of staying at an unfamiliar location amongst strangers may understandably feel daunting for many. However, inpatient rehab gives individuals the tools to reclaim their life without substances.

The question of “how long does inpatient rehab take” is probably one of the most asked, and often will be the deciding factor to attend inpatient care altogether. To better understand the variables involved with deciding if inpatient programs are for you, it helps to understand the services provided. 

Levels Of Care

The first factor a person needs to consider before deciding to enter treatment is what level of treatment will benefit them most. This conversation is necessary and can significantly affect treatment outcomes.

Each level of treatment provides support and services for those with a substance use disorder (SUD); however, inpatient treatment programs offer the most intensive treatment services as opposed to an outpatient facility or a sober living home.

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Typically, an individual who enters residential treatment will reside there for 30-90 days; however, staying at least 90 days provides the highest opportunity for long-term recovery.

If you are still determining what treatment level to pick, you may find it helpful to learn more about the different levels of treatment by speaking with a treatment provider.

How Does Inpatient Treatment Help?

Inpatient treatment offers multiple services, including detoxification, medical assessments, psychiatric assessments, medication management, behavioral therapies (individual, family, group, etc.), specialized treatment approaches (e.g., eye movement desensitization and reprocessing [EMDR], equine therapy, etc.), holistic services (e.g., acupuncture, massage, etc.), and peer support through 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

All services occur in a safe environment to ensure that everyone’s medical needs are met. To achieve this level of care, inpatient facilities utilize 24-hour monitoring by healthcare professionals such as physicians, nurses, and therapists. An on-site clinical team works together to ensure each treatment service is productive and effective.

Reducing The Risk Of Relapse

Inpatient treatment centers reduce outside influences on someone’s recovery journey while supporting them with various evidence-based treatments in early recovery. For many, the most important goals of inpatient treatment revolve around reducing the risk of a relapse. The coping skills an individual learns during inpatient treatment can effectively reduce the risk of relapse.

The first few weeks of the recovery journey are often considered high risk for relapse due to very uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and potentially challenging mental health symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and feelings of guilt and shame. These symptoms tend to drive individuals to use the substance for relief, and these symptoms are traditionally difficult to manage in outpatient levels of care.

Relapse events are common in early treatment stages, especially for those physically dependent on a substance. Those who struggle with these factors tend to be unsuccessful in outpatient programs due to the lack of overall capability to provide supervision, oversight, and accountability since the client is usually outside the physical bounds of treatment. Many decide to enter an inpatient treatment program to reduce that risk as much as possible and help provide a sense of relief to their loved ones.

What Are Common Timelines For Treatment?

Most people who enter residential treatment stay 30 to 90 days. The length of stay depends on the individual, so it is important to discuss all considerations before starting rehab with a treatment professional. 

The length of treatment focuses on the idea of having enough time to safely detox from a substance, work through withdrawal symptoms, manage complications that commonly arise when transitioning into early recovery, and learn how to cope with life through consistent action.

These processes are important elements in any treatment program; however, inpatient programs have the unique advantage of having trained staff around 24/7 to help reduce dangerous behaviors in early recovery, including preventing potential relapses that can result in serious harm without intervention. Browse the rehab directory today to find inpatient rehabs near you.

What makes most inpatient treatment centers effective is their ability to create a custom treatment plan for each client based on their identified needs from a medical and psychiatric standpoint. The specialized treatment plan determines how to address an individual’s needs and goals and includes the strategy of which therapeutic services to incorporate. The treatment plan generally identifies how long an individual would need to stay for treatment results to reach the treatment plan’s full potential.

While treatment lengths will differ for each person, there are median lengths of stay that can serve as a rough estimate for how long a person will stay on average.

Inpatient Rehab Timeline

0-7 Days


  • Evaluation: A medical team screens incoming patients for physical/mental health issues.
  • Stabilization: The goal of stabilization is to prevent any form of harm to the patient while ensuring the body is detoxed from drugs or alcohol.
  • Preparing for Inpatient Treatment: The final step of detox is preparation for a treatment program.

30 Days

Average length of stay for most mild to moderate substance use disorders.

  • Typically between 3-5 weeks.
  • Behavioral therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) are commonly used.
  • A significant portion of 30 day treatment programs is provided through a combination of group and individual counseling sessions.

60-90 Days

Additional length of stay at most inpatient rehabs.

  • Recommended by most treatment professionals for highest chance of success.
  • Typically between 2-4 months.
  • Longer length programs offer more in-depth treatment modalities, and may include family therapy, medication assisted treatment (MAT), and aftercare planning.

How Long Inpatient Rehab Takes Depends On The Individual 

How long inpatient rehab takes greatly depends on the individual receiving treatment. For example, someone with a history of consuming alcohol at dangerous levels would most likely require medical detox to ensure their safety before starting any other form of treatment. Detox might take a week or more, depending on medical complications or if the individual consumed any other substances. It will likely take 7-10 days for acute withdrawal symptoms to subside. After that time and when the client is feeling well enough, the actual therapeutic part of residential treatment can begin. Those first 7-10 days will not account for some of the most critical elements of treatment, such as engagement with their peers in recovery and individual, group, and family therapy. If we contrast this particular treatment timeline to someone who entered treatment without acute withdrawals, it is possible to see how treatment timelines become unique to the individual.

However, the reality is that not everyone has the opportunity to attend a 90-day treatment program due to barriers such as familial responsibilities, employment issues, or financial limitations. Everyone has a unique story that requires an individualized approach to find solutions that address their needs and goals.

Transitioning From Inpatient To Outpatient 

While one of the most important elements of inpatient treatment focuses on providing a safe and distraction-free environment for individuals in recovery, these elements are not always required throughout the entire treatment. Many treatment professionals recognize this and encourage individuals to start treatment at the inpatient level and transition into appropriate outpatient levels as they recover. This process can take time, depending on where the individual is in their recovery journey.

Some may find that 30 days in inpatient treatment is helpful enough to transition safely, and others may take longer, with 45 days inpatient and 45 days intensive outpatient being a common strategy in which people have found success.

Many treatment professionals begin finding appropriate services for continued care within the individual’s area on the first day of treatment. This is called discharge planning. The plan may adjust as treatment progresses, with the perspective of each clinical team member and the client included in its evolution.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is to make sure that a solid plan is created at the start of treatment that helps to identify a timeframe that the clinical team, your loved ones, and you feel are the most beneficial and realistic for optimal results.

It is also important to understand that treatment and healthcare is not a linear experience; many bumps can occur along the way. These bumps could have little impact on the overall treatment plan or could cause the plan to change unexpectedly. However, it is important not to be discouraged if your treatment plan suddenly changes. Flexibility is essential in recovery and life, and effectively managing the unexpected is paramount for success.

Find Inpatient Treatment Today

Pursuing any level of treatment is commendable. Inpatient treatment can provide an individual with the supervision and guidance to take back their life.

Contact a treatment provider today. They can explain the intake process and answer any questions you have about entering inpatient treatment. Don’t wait, utilize the resources available to you today and take a step towards recovery.