How Long is Rehab for Alcohol Use Disorder?

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how long is rehab for alcohol

Even when it becomes crystal clear that your drinking has reached a dangerous level, going to rehab seems unthinkable. It is easy to come up with excuses to avoid getting treatment and changing your life. 

One of the most common concerns cited is finding the time for rehab. The thought of taking months off for treatment is a formidable barrier to overcome. So, how long is rehab for alcohol use disorder? Read on to learn the answer and much more about alcohol dependency and addiction.

How Do You Know If You Need Rehab for Alcohol Use Disorder?

The answer to the question, “How long is rehab for alcohol use disorder,” is summed up in two little words: it depends. The time spent in rehab is commensurate with how severe your alcohol problem is.

So, how bad is it? Maybe your loved ones have expressed concern about your drinking habits. You wonder if they are being overly dramatic, or if you are in denial. 

To better understand the signs of an alcohol use disorder, it helps to look at the diagnostic criteria. There are eleven questions contained in an assessment tool that helps clinicians to diagnose and stage alcohol use disorder:

  1. Are there times when you drank more or longer than intended?
  2. Have you tried to cut back or stop drinking on more than one occasion, but couldn’t do it?
  3. Is much of your time spent drinking or recovering from its after effects?
  4. Do you crave alcohol?
  5. Does your alcohol use cause you to neglect family obligations, or has it caused problems at work or in school?
  6. Have you continued to drink alcohol despite these problems?
  7. Have you lost interest in or stopped participating in activities or hobbies you once enjoyed?
  8. Have you engaged in high-risk behaviors due to alcohol abuse?
  9. Do you continue to drink even if it causes mental health or medical problems or a blackout?
  10. Have you increased your consumption to achieve the earlier effects you once experienced?
  11. Do you begin having alcohol withdrawal symptoms when the effects of the alcohol are wearing off?

The more of these questions you answer “yes” to, the more severe your alcohol use disorder.

How to Prepare for Rehab

Once you’ve determined that you do indeed need rehab, there are some actions you can take to prepare ahead. These include:

  • Check your insurance. Call your plan administrator and ask about your coverage for rehab and related services. They can also estimate your out-of-pocket expense as well.
  • Research rehab centers. There are different levels of care and many niche rehabs to select from. If you find a couple that sound promising, ask for a tour before enrolling.
  • Give work a heads up. One of the first steps to take is applying for a medical leave of absence. Check with H.R. to learn about the process and to help your boss plan for your absence.
  • Take care of business. If you expect to be in treatment for a few months, it is wise to get your ducks in a row. Make plans for the bills to get paid, for childcare, or for transporting kids to school.

How Long is Rehab for Treatment of Alcoholism?

So, how long is rehab for alcohol use disorder going to last? Weeks? Months? This all depends on the following factors:

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  • How long is a history of heavy drinking
  • How many times you have gone through detox before.
  • How much alcohol was consumed daily?/
  • Are there any other substance use disorders present?
  • Is there a co-occurring mental health disorder?
  • The state of your general health.

Once you have completed the intake process, your clinician will recommend a course of treatment based on all the data. Many people are only able to stay for a month due to financial constraints or limited insurance coverage. However, for someone with a severe alcohol problem, a minimum of three months in rehab is advised.

Alcohol Detox and Withdrawal

As you begin your recovery journey, the first step will be detox and withdrawal. Once you stop drinking, the withdrawal symptoms begin to emerge within about twelve hours, sometimes sooner.

During the detox process, your symptoms are carefully monitored. This is because alcohol detox can present some worrisome symptoms in some people that must be addressed right away.

Some of the common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Irritability
  • Hand tremors.
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Annandaled blood pressure.
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • DTs (rare)

What to Expect in Rehab for Alcohol Use Disorder

After you have been guided safely through detox, it is time to enter rehab. This is the portion of recovery where you will learn how to stay sober. Treatment involves several moving parts, each of them contributing to this goal of sustained sobriety. These include:

  • Psychotherapy. CBT and DBT are designed to change your behaviors so you are less likely to reach for a substance when triggered. Also, if there is a co-occurring mood disorder you can learn ways to manage symptoms in therapy.
  • Group sessions. Small peer group sessions are very helpful and promote a sense of belonging and social support while in treatment.
  • Holistic methods. Stress is a leading trigger for relapse, so while in treatment you will learn ways to relax. These might include yoga, deep breathing exercises, mindfulness training, or massage.
  • Education. While in rehab you will learn new coping skills and how to prevent a relapse.
  • 12-step support. Taking part in programs like A.A. or SMART Recovery is often part of the rehab programming. 
  • Aftercare. Stepping down to an outpatient program and joining a recovery group after discharge are encouraged to help sustain sobriety.

How long is rehab for alcohol use disorder? At a minimum, one month, but the longer you stay in treatment, even up to a year, the more chance of success.

Annandale Behavioral Health

California Treatment Program for Alcohol Use Disorder

Annandale Behavioral Health offers a comprehensive alcohol recovery program that combines both evidence-based and holistic treatment elements. If you wish to learn more about our program, please reach out today at (855) 778-8668