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How Long Does Addiction Recovery Take?

Oct 15, 2021

Virtually everywhere we look, there’s a clear beginning, middle, and end to something. It’s true in work days, sports seasons, and school years. Most of us may be counting down to the end of something on any given day. It’s natural to want to know how long something lasts. The challenge is trying to apply that same thinking to addiction recovery. Let’s look at what makes setting a length for recovery a well-intentioned but misplaced effort.

Although drug and alcohol rehab centers commonly advertise 30, 60, or 90 day stays, it’s helpful to understand the length of a stay is only one step in a lifelong commitment to sobriety.

A stay in treatment should be chosen to match the needs of the individual patient and provide for both substance use disorders and mental health needs when necessary. Upon starting treatment, a plan for continuing care can be developed. It may include intensive outpatient therapy or sober living environments.

The Long Story: Why Sobriety is a Lifelong Commitment

Creating the sober life you want isn’t a quick fix to a drinking problem or a mental health issue. There’s not a single strategy to help you reach your goal successfully. It won’t come from a short stay at an outpatient facility or weeks in an outpatient program.

Part of what makes it easy to think in terms of how long it takes to get and stay sober comes from what you hear about treatment programs. They get mentioned in terms of length of the stay. We’ll talk more about that in a bit. For now, let’s pause on that type of thinking.

Think of any movie you’ve watched where the main character needs to get somewhere across the country. What keeps them from just taking the most direct route and getting there quickly? In the world of cinema, it’s the obstacles presented by the writer in the story. These obstacles slow the character down and force them to find alternatives.

In the real world, the same premise applies to people with substance use disorders. There is no one solution that gets you to sobriety. The test is how you respond to the challenges along the way. Some of these challenges even come from within you.

Wanting to live a sober life becomes a process of countless steps in the same direction. Some steps will be big ones. Some steps will be smaller than others. As long as you’re moving in the same direction, you’re making progress.

What do those steps consist of? They may look like asking for help or accepting help. They may look like the beginning of your work on self-care. Anything you choose to do to live in a healthy way, in body, mind, and spirit, is one of these steps.

The moment you take your focus off the steps, what happens? You stop moving in the right direction. You may get diverted off your path. Your goal of getting sober starts to get further away. If you’re already in recovery, staying sober becomes more challenging.

People who have successfully created a sober life have worked to remain focused on the commitment to sobriety. They learned what it took for them personally to achieve it. Also, they learned how to respond to setbacks. Most importantly, they learned the journey in recovery is continuous.

If you are going to sustain any effort for a lifetime, it’s essential to learn how to do it. Think about any skill you’ve learned and mastered over time. Driving is a good example for most adults. You learned to drive at a young age and practiced regularly until you became a licensed driver. Your practice on the roads continued and your experience added to your skills behind the wheel.

Setting a Solid Foundation to Recovery

There’s no blueprint for creating a solid foundation to recovery for everyone. One of the steps for you to take is to determine what you need to live a sober life. In the absence of that knowledge, knowing where to turn to get those answers is important.

The foundation begins to get built by becoming aware of your need for treatment. It may come from self-discovery. This is when you recognize the impact of your drinking or drug use on your life. You may see how it affects your relationships at home and at work. You may notice its impact on your health.

Your response to others suggesting you have a substance use problem can be part of building that foundation to recovery. When multiple people you know hint or tell you directly that you have a problem, how do you respond? Acknowledging their concerns and expressing your own is a healthy way to get on the road to recovery sooner.

Making sobriety your goal always puts you in control of what steps you take next. You want to be the decision-maker in your own future. That comes from exploring your options to quit using drugs or alcohol. For everyone with a substance use disorder, it also means understanding what may have led to your behaviors with drugs or alcohol.

If you have experienced depression or anxiety prior to substance use, that’s worth mentioning to an addiction specialist. It’s common for people with SUDs to have co-occurring mental health disorders. This is a diagnosis that could ultimately put recovery within the reach of someone who previously believed they only had a drinking or drug problem.

By looking at substance use and mental health at the same time, a person can become more aware of how these two disorders may be worsening each other. In dual diagnosis treatment, they can learn coping strategies that help them avoid self-destructive behaviors stemming from both mental health and substance use.

The foundation to addiction recovery relies on determining what you need specifically to stay sober from a treatment program and resources beyond. You’re planning for the future the moment you start treatment. The length of the stay in rehab isn’t what’s on your mind. Your focus is on treatment as a single step in a much longer journey to sobriety.

Residential treatment follows a medical detox and sets you up for success by equipping you with skill-building sessions solo and with peers. The foundation grows stronger as you invite loved ones to support you through family therapy sessions. Their support will be critical to your success so it’s important to give them an opportunity to address how your substance use has affected them.

Part of family therapy’s mission is to guide you and your loved ones in safe space through problem-solving and repairing relationships. Learning healthy communication skills are a fundamental part of these sessions. These types of skills are valuable in all areas of your life, including advocating for your own needs in productive ways.

Lengths of Stay & Treatment Options

The length of a stay in rehab can vary. Some of the lengths commonly advertised are 30, 60, and 90 days. But, the choice on how long you stay should rely on the kind of care and treatment you need. It should not be dictated by the shortest length or the length of a program someone you know attended.

Treatment at a residential facility will consist of many individual components. For dual diagnosis patients, these components will be integrated across multiple disciplines. Individual therapy is a staple of residential treatment. These sessions are one-on-one and can be made up of several different therapeutic approaches. Meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, and motivational interviewing are examples of different approaches that can be used in different sessions with the same patient.

Group therapy is another common part of residential treatment. In these sessions, patients can learn from peers and share their own experiences with substance use. The group dynamic fosters care and support among residents and builds a sense of community.

Trauma therapies are another treatment service made available to people with addiction and mental health concerns. These sessions help patients learn how to emotionally regulate themselves when recalling traumatic events of the past.

The focus on learning to cope with these painful memories can also come from Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. EMDR works by giving attention to a negative image, belief, emotion, and body sensation related to the traumatic event before guiding a person towards a positive resolution.

Gender-specific treatment is an option for men who will benefit from experiencing a program with male peers and male supervision in all disciplines. This kind of treatment makes it possible for men to open up in ways they wouldn’t otherwise. They learn to relate to other men in healthier ways and recognize the value in creating connections with men who have similar histories with drugs and alcohol.

Trust and support are fundamental elements of the gender-specific program for men. In their lives previously, the lack of trust and support may have contributed to their drinking or drug use. The peer-based environment helps men learn to communicate with each other and accept the reality of their past behaviors that led them to treatment.

Your Addiction Recovery Begins with Origins Recovery Center

Origins Recovery Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration.

We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.

For information on our programs, call us today: 866-875-1558.

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