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.
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.