How Long is Drug Rehab?

How Long is Drug Rehab?

Drug rehab often feels like being pulled into a vacation you don’t want to go on. For some people, it feels like voluntarily signing up to go to jail. Before you go anywhere, you want to know how long you’re going to be gone and the way it will impact your routine. 

If you’re leaving responsibilities behind, it’s important that you understand the duration of your treatment. How long will your sister have to foster your dog? How many times does your best friend have to deliver your rent to the landlord? Are there any bills you need to pay before you go?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Rehab doesn’t ever truly end — it’s a lifelong process of betterment and maintaining your progress to prevent relapse. 

When it comes to your stay at a facility, it can be as little as a month or as long as 120 days. You can’t and won’t know until you start. You might have to adjust your plans midway through rehab. It all depends on your unique case. 

Rehab Begins with Detoxing

The first part of drug rehabilitation is detoxing from the substance you’ve been dependent on for so long. How long this process takes depends on a variety of different factors. What kinds of substances were you using? How much of them, and how often? Were you using them daily for months, or years, or decades? How do you want to approach the detox process?

People recovering from opioid addiction might choose longer methods of detoxing. Methadone is an effective detox tool when administered by a professional according to a schedule of controlled doses. Methadone is an opioid, so using methadone will suppress symptoms of opioid withdrawal.  Over time, doses of methadone are lowered until they are completely stopped. When a minimal dose is finally ceased, withdrawal is simple. It’s not a pleasant process, but it’s not much worse than a common cold. 

While methadone is one of the gentlest tools to help opioid addicts detox in that it staves off withdrawal symptoms, but it also takes the longest, especially relative to abruptly stopping a drug. Some addicts spend weeks or months gradually decreasing their dosage until they stop completely. 

Some substances don’t work with tools like methadone. Any non-opioid drug is detoxed and processed differently. Drugs like marijuana do not require any physical detox at all – their addictive properties are exclusively emotional. 

There’s no real way to know how long detox is going to take unless you discuss the substances, durations, and amounts with your care provider and choose a method of detox that will work for you.

Conquering Addiction with a  Dual Diagnosis

Detoxing doesn’t stop addiction. All of the behavior aspects and frameworks that contribute to addiction are still in place, even after the substance has been fully removed from the body. The absence of the drug creates a vacuum in the life of an addict. When it’s gone, they often don’t know who they are anymore. 

Everyone uses for a reason. If you were having a fantastic time every day and loved being in your default state of consciousness, you wouldn’t be trying to escape it with drugs. Discovering and remedying the underlying cause is crucial for a long term successful outcome. 

If this discovery process were simple, straightforward, and easy, addicts would have done it instead of resorting to drugs as a quick cover up of a larger problem. Addicts need a framework for coping mechanisms and healthy emotional outlets to utilize instead of drugs. They need to learn to recognize their feelings – particularly the feelings that lead them to use. Most importantly, they need to learn to deal with those feelings in a more productive way.

This is even more important for addicts with a dual diagnosis. If you’ve been diagnosed with a mental health condition in conjunction with addiction, you’ll be at higher risk for relapse unless both conditions are simultaneously treated. Mental illness has a tendency to create a loop of lows. You feel bad, you use drugs, you feel worse, you use more. The cycle perpetuates the longer you continue to self medicate. 

When Are You Actually Ready to Leave?

There’s a lot of emotional and psychological work to be done before it’s wise to cut an addict loose. No one wants to see all of the progress of rehab undone. No one wants to put the same addict through detox twice. The goal is always to make rehab stick the first time, and if you haven’t made significant progress at the end of 30 days in inpatient treatment, you might want to extend that stay until you feel comfortable to start the next phase of your recovery.

People with a dual diagnosis need and deserve special focus. Their need for help is a little more intensive than that of an addict who only deals with addiction. Dual diagnosed  individuals might need to spend a little longer in an inpatient program for evaluation and assistance. The last thing a rehabilitation professional would want to do is release a patient with a dual diagnosis before they’re ready.

Rehab Isn’t Over When Inpatient Ends

Leaving rehab doesn’t mean you’re all better. It means you have the tools, knowledge, and resources to commit to keeping yourself healthy. The real test begins when you go back home. You’re empowered to make your own decisions. You choose who you talk to, where you go, and what you do there. That’s a lot of power to put into the hands of someone fresh out of recovery, but it needs to happen at some point. 

You might have learned enough in rehab to keep you from making the same mistakes, but this often isn’t the case. You can just as easily revert to the same choices you were making before, out of sheer force of habit. You’ll land right back where you started, and no one wants to see that happen. You’re provided with aftercare resources upon leaving rehab, and the next phase of your recovery is to choose to use them. 

Outpatient Treatments

Some people choose to attend meetings or group therapy sessions after they’ve completed inpatient programs. They find that the approach of accountability in numbers works for them. Everyone else attending those meetings is trying not to avoid making the same mistakes you’re trying to avoid. Best of all, they get it. 

You can talk to the people you love about temptations and feelings that trigger addiction all day long. They can love you, and support you, and listen. Unless they know what addiction is like, they won’t truly be able to empathize. They can’t exchange ideas and healthy coping skills with you the same way someone who shares your experience would be able to. 

Continued Mental Health Treatment

You can’t stop the world from moving while you’re in recovery. As great as it would be to hit a big pause button and watch everything slow down for a little while, the earth will continue to turn. Every day will bring new challenges and new emotions. You’ll face changes, some good and some bad. You need to be prepared to weather those changes without compromising your recovery.
Talk therapy can be a crucial component of successful long term recovery – especially if you don’t always understand your own feelings. Are you often anxious, but you’re not quite sure why? Do you avoid certain places or situations, but you don’t have the insight to understand what they have in common? Talk it out with your therapist. That’s how you’ll find out. 

Therapy is most important for addicts with a dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosed addicts or addicts with stressful lives often find that continued mental health treatment helps to keep them centered. Even if they aren’t currently using, they still have a mental health disorder they need to appropriately manage. Failing to manage the mental health disorder will send recovery tumbling down like a house of cards. Having a professional to speak with on a regular basis prevents feelings from piling up, ultimately culminating in a relapse. 


Drug rehab is the rest of your life. You’re responsible for your continued success every day. It’s up to you to maintain your recovery and to prevent relapse. It will be harder sometimes, especially when devastating life events happen. 

The death of a loved one, the loss of a friend,  getting laid off, losing your home in a wildfire – there are so many variables life can throw at you. And life will never stop throwing them at you. These are devastating things that people face every day. You cannot change the nature of the world, but you can change your reaction to it.

Learning to remain devoted to your recovery even in the hardest of times is something that takes patience, willpower, and a lot of determination. Using recovery resources every day for the rest of your life will keep you focused. Don’t think enough is enough just because you haven’t used in a week, or a month, or even a year. Continue to focus on your wellbeing, because you deserve to remain sober and healthy. 

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Who Regulates Drug Rehab Centers in California?

Who Regulates Drug Rehab Centers in California?

You need to trust your drug rehab center just as much as you’d trust your doctor, your hospital, or your psychologist. You’re heavily relying on a care provider to keep you safe and provide you with the tools you need during a difficult time in your life. 

Drug rehab centers exist to serve a very specialized need and work differently than your regular doctor’s office or clinic. It’s easy to understand how these other institutions came to be and what the standards are for the people who work there. You know the way they’re supposed to treat you and the things they’re supposed to provide for you. This may not be as clear with drug rehab centers.

Drug rehab centers are regulated just like any other medical or therapeutic facility. The process is slightly different than it might be for a facility where surgery might be performed, but oversight still plays a crucial role in establishing and regulating these centers.

What is the DHCS?

California’s drug rehabilitation centers are regulated by the Department of Health Care Services, or DHCS. DHCS is an institution deeply embedded in health care for all Californians. They regulate every kind of medical practitioner from dentists to substance abuse specialists. 

They’re responsible for instituting all health programs that Californians are eligible to receive, like Family Planning services and the Newborn Hearing Screening Program. 

They’ve created a giant umbrella over all health care and health care resources to assure that every Californian has equal access to the highest possible quality of care from every provider they see. They also help match underserved or financially disadvantaged people with services and resources they can use to manage their health care needs.

Since DHCS handles so much, it’s broken down into smaller sub-managed divisions. Each division of the DHCS focuses on a different branch of health care or health resources. Although drug rehab centers are regulated under the umbrella of DHCS, they’re under the specific purview of a branch designated specifically to that purpose. 

What is the SUDC?

The Substance Use Disorder Compliance division, or SUDC, is the division of the DHCS that handles all matters pertaining to substance abuse recovery. They oversee inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs for drug and alcohol addiction or misuse. The Licensing and Certification Branch (LCB) of the SUDC is ultimately responsible for determining which facilities are and are not eligible for licensure. 

Obtaining a license is not a one and done deal. Facilities are granted licensing for shorter terms, and must reapply for licensing before their current license expires. 

This helps the DHCS make sure that the standards and quality of care at a facility have not declined since they last received their license. DHCS will be sure that treatment centers use the best possible treatment methods available at all times. 

What Criteria Do Centers Need to Meet for Licensing?

The DHCS has a lengthy list of guidelines for rehabilitation centers that outlines the quality of the care they must provide, the services necessary for successful recovery treatment, the safety and sanitation of a facility and the required credentials of the staff who may work there.

Every rehabilitation center is held to the same high standards. The department regularly checks in with addiction care providers to assure that standards are being upheld. They also routinely investigate complaints made by patients of these facilities, and they may discover compliance issues during these investigations. 

When this happens, the license for a facility can be suspended or revoked. 

Does Everyone at a Regulated Center Fully Recover?

Recovery is not a task of the rehab center, but a task of the patient. 

The center’s job is to keep you safe and provide you with drug rehabilitation treatment tools that are proven to be effective. The work of maintaining sobriety falls on your lap. The center will be there to support you, and in some cases, provide aftercare to maximize your chances for success even after the inpatient program is over.

Even the best rehabilitation center in the world cannot overtake the free will of a patient. If the patient leaves and decides to turn back to drugs or ignore their recovery plan, there’s nothing the center can do.

If you’re looking to recover from drug addiction, you need to make the right decisions every day of your life after treatment is over. Your treatment specialist can only fill your toolbox and teach you how to use those tools. It’s up to you how and when you take that toolbox out. 

Are Unregulated Centers Unsafe?

Unregulated centers are often unregulated because they cannot prove that any of the treatment methods they’re using are safe or effective. This is often the case with faith-based drug rehabilitation centers that prefer to approach rehabilitation through prayer or religious ritual rather than proven medical strategies to preserve the health and safety of a patient. 

When you pay money for inpatient drug rehabilitation, you want to know that exchange of money was for a legitimate service. Unregulated centers often take people’s money without doing anything other than offering them room and board for 30 days. 

With no qualified professionals on staff or care standards to abide by, they cannot actually demonstrate any foundation of results for their methods and cannot call themselves treatment programs.

How Often Are Licenses Checked?

The SDUC’s LCB team frequently checks rehab centers to assure their compliance. They suspend or revoke licenses from facilities that do not provide adequate care, and serve unlicensed facilities with notices that tell them to either become licensed or close their doors. 

The state of California takes addiction recovery centers very seriously. More centers close than open each year. Centers that cut corners, fail to meet licensing requirements, or attempt to circumvent the law’s requirement for licensure are promptly handled. 

How Do I Know If a Center is Regulated?

The SUDC keeps a list of all centers it regulates with vital data regarding that center. It lists the name of the care provider, the address of the facility, the status and expiration date of the license, the type of services the facility is allowed to offer, and the maximum number of residents the treatment center can serve.

It also provides designations for what it calls “Target Populations.” This indicates whether a facility is co-ed, exclusive to one sex, exclusive to adolescents, designated for dual diagnosis patients, or if the facility targets a mixture of patients. 

How Do I Find a Regulated Drug Rehab Center in California?

The first thing you need to consider is what you intend to gain from treatment. 

If you are still an active drug user, you’ll need to safely detox in a supervised environment. Not all treatment centers are also certified as detox centers. It’s easier and safer to have your care managed by the same team from beginning to end. Choosing one facility that provides both the detox and the treatment often fares better for the patient’s overall rehab experience. 

Then, you’ll have to decide how far you’re willing to travel to receive treatment. Some people prefer to leave their past far behind them while they’re in recovery, and others like the idea of staying close to home. Some people don’t care about the location of their rehabilitation facility as much as they care about what the facility can provide for them. It’s up to you to choose your priorities and reconcile them with your commute. 

When you have an idea of what you’re looking for, you can conduct a Google search for top rated rehabilitation facilities within that general area. View the websites for those most appealing to you, and create a list of pros and cons. 

You might love the comfort and amenities a facility provides, but be less than enthusiastic about the idea of sharing them with the 50 other people in that facility. You might find a boutique facility that treats less than ten people at a time, but discover that they don’t offer the detox services you need. 

Take some time to make notes and narrow down your list until you’ve found a facility or two that seem to meet all of your most pressing needs.

Then, use the DHCS’s search tool to verify the information you’ve found. You can check licensing status, program qualifications, and maximum residency. If the information you obtained from the website accurately reflects the information DHCS has on file, you’ve found a reliable drug rehabilitation center. 


The process of rehabilitating from drug addiction is serious and important. Not all care providers are equal. Don’t fall prey to the promises of alternative centers or unlicensed centers. They can’t provide you with the quality of treatment you need to get your life back on track. 

Aside from licensing requirements, accreditation and certification from The Joint Commission is also worth looking for. The Joint Commission was founded over 50 years ago and helps set a standard for what quality healthcare looks like. You can learn more about them and their requirements here. 

The DHCS understands what you’re going through and strives to be sure that every licensed care provider you can possibly choose from will be able to serve you with safe, proven, effective, and reliable care. 


How Long Does It Take to Detox From Alcohol?

How Long Does It Take to Detox From Alcohol?

Alcohol is the most widely available recreational drug. It’s cheap, you can find it anywhere, and it’s legal to use for most people in most situations. It’s also one of the most dangerous drugs you can ever abuse. This is something that most people who eventually wind up becoming alcoholics never realize. 

Since there’s less of a stigma surrounding alcohol and it seems like almost everyone drinks at least once in a while, most people don’t see any perceived danger with alcohol outside of situations like drunk driving. There are drinkers who would never even contemplate touching another substance, including decriminalized substances like marijuana, because they fear these substances are unsafe. They have no idea what alcohol is actually doing to their bodies. 

If you’re coming to realize that alcohol is not the harmless party enhancer or dinnertime treat it’s often made out to be, you probably have a lot of important questions you need answers to right away.

The Difference Between a Casual Drinker, a Problematic Drinker, and an Alcoholic

No one has the first drink and immediately becomes an alcoholic. Alcoholism is a slow burn that develops over time. It’s like the boiling frog analogy. If you put a frog in a pot of water and very slowly, very gradually increase the temperature of the water, the frog doesn’t notice how hot it’s gotten before he boils to death. The same thing happens with people and alcohol. They drink a little more and a little more and a little more until they don’t have a concept of just how much they’re actually drinking.

A casual drinker is someone who can and sometimes does go an entire month without drinking, or even thinking about drinking. These people are usually conscious about their drinking habits and would prefer not to overindulge. They may not like the taste of alcohol very much, or the feeling of being impaired. They save their drinks for weekends, holidays, or special occasions, and they can count on one hand the amount they have throughout the duration of their events. 

Problematic drinkers will drink a little more. Any woman who has more than three drinks in an average day or 7 total drinks in a week, and any man that has more than four drinks in an average day or more than 14 drinks in a week is at an increased risk for alcoholism. Problematic drinkers often skirt that line, or may occasionally surpass it.

If you’re a problematic drinker, you may not be drinking every day. That doesn’t mean you aren’t drinking to excess often enough to re-evaluate your relationship with alcohol. A heavy drinker, or an alcoholic, is defined as someone who often exceeds those limits.

Am I Drinking Too Much?

If you have to ask yourself if you’re drinking too much, you probably are. If the thought has entered your mind that your reliance on or tendency to gravitate towards alcohol may be becoming a problem, listen to yourself. It’s easier and safer to prevent a problem than it is to treat one. 

Stopping Alcohol as a Casual Drinker

Casual drinkers will have the easiest time stopping alcohol. At first, limit your social outings or occasions that will involve alcohol. This will give you time to re-evaluate the way you interact with alcohol. When you are in a situation where others are drinking and you’re not, you may feel like you miss alcohol. Try to look at the situation through a new lens. 

When you’re sober and the people around you aren’t, you might find them a little annoying. This doesn’t mean you should drink until they’re easy to be around, but rather that you should find a new social group that doesn’t drink as much or as often.

Stopping Alcohol as a Problematic Drinker

If you believe that you’re a problematic drinker, you should make it a rule to avoid all social situations where alcohol plays a significant role. This doesn’t mean you should stop going out to dinner because one of the people you’re with might order a glass of wine. It does mean that bar karaoke is no longer an ideal environment for you. 

You may not want to keep alcohol in the house, even if it isn’t for you. Drinking one of your roommate’s beers can become a slippery slope faster than you may realize. It’s the same mentality people trying to diet fall into. “I already ate the piece of pizza, I might as well have the burger!” Removing alcohol from your environment makes it easier to prevent these kinds of slip ups. 

You may also want to talk to a mental health professional about your problematic relationship with alcohol. He or she will be able to help you assess the underlying reasons why you may drink too frequently. Understanding the foundation for the problem can help you formulate healthy solutions and better habits. 

Stopping Alcohol as an Alcoholic

Stopping alcohol as an alcohol is difficult and dangerous. If you drink so frequently that you experience physical symptoms after going a few hours without alcohol, stopping will involve detoxing and some form of rehabilitation.

The Process of Detoxing from Alcohol and Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

Detoxing from alcohol causes something called alcohol withdrawal syndrome, or AWS. For some people, the symptoms of AWS may be mild and only last a day or two. Insomnia, nausea, vomiting, clammy skin, headaches, anxiety, irritability, depression, and brain fog are common responses to detoxing from alcohol. 

Long term heavy drinkers may experience those side effects plus tremors, rapid heartbeat, and uncontrollable shaking. In rare cases, they may also experience another escalated bracket of symptoms called delirium tremens. Delirium tremens causes fever, intense confusion, hallucinations, and seizures. 

The effects of withdrawal build up over a few days, with seizures typically occurring around the 48 hour mark. Delirium tremens may kick in at about 72 hours into the withdrawal process and could last as long as a week.

Since these symptoms can escalate to dangerous levels very quickly, medical supervision is necessary during the detoxification process. By the time confusion, hallucination, and seizures have set in, people are no longer able to help themselves. They can only be assisted by a medical professional who has followed the process and understands the escalation of the symptoms.

Protracted Withdrawal Syndrome

Some people in recovery may experience something called protracted withdrawal syndrome, or PWS. In essence, PWS is when the mild symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, like depression, anxiety, and brain fog, can last as long as a year. Some people with PWS still experience tremors or have shaky hands. You may have heard of people with PWS referred to as “dry drunks”, as they never quite seem fully sober.

PWS is something that has to run out its course. Medications and therapy may help people with PWS alleviate some of the symptoms and adapt to living a healthy, sober life.

Outpatient Solutions

If you have a drinking problem, you’ve probably seen or heard of dozens of outpatient solutions. These outpatient solutions are a better option for people who have been independently maintaining their sobriety for an extended period of time. They’re not a great place to start, and they won’t provide you with the medical assistance you need to safely detox from alcohol. They won’t help you modify your behavior or remove your temptation to drink.

Outpatient solutions are helpful for people who want accountability and a therapeutic conversation with people who understand the unique challenges that come with giving up alcohol. For safety and the potential of long term success, treatment should begin at an inpatient facility.

Inpatient Solutions

Inpatient treatment facilities have staff that work round the clock to tend to the medical needs of patients. Someone with alcohol withdrawal syndrome requires this kind of medical monitoring for their safety. Seizures and hallucinations can set in at any moment. Medical staff will know how to keep you safe throughout the process

Inpatient facilities also put a big pause on the temptations of the outside world. Even if you feel tempted to drink, you won’t have access to alcohol. You will, however, have access to a therapist who is there to discuss your underlying desire to drink and the events in your life that may have lead to your dependency on alcohol. This therapy will become a vital tool in helping you shape new coping mechanisms for an alcohol free life


There is no clear cut answer regarding how long it takes to detox from alcohol. Some people are over the worst of their symptoms in about three days, while others may begin to experience heightened and more dangerous consequences at the same point in time. Others carry remnants of their withdrawal symptoms with them for up to a year. 

Alcohol withdrawal can be unpredictable, which is why it’s so important to detox in an inpatient setting with constant medical supervision. 

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