A common misconception exists that all you need to do is to “clean up” or “get dry.” While it is true that no real progress will be made while you are under the influence, it is also true that few people can walk away from their addiction cold-turkey and pursue a new way of life.
And that’s where rehab and residential treatment comes in.
For some people, outpatient treatment or evening meetings has its uses, but if you’re someone who has been told to seek residential treatment, outpatient treatment probably won’t be enough. There are just too many opportunities to fall through the cracks. After every session, you have to go back home—back to where many of your triggers are. Without proper distance and perspective, the potential for relapse is much higher.
This question is nearly impossible to answer because the length of time is different for everyone. We do know that the rate of relapse is significantly lower for addicts who enroll in longer programs than for those who enroll in shorter programs. Ultimately, the more time in treatment, means more time being sober—crucial time needed to develop clarity and understanding and to plumb the depths of what fed the addiction in the first place. Certainly, if someone is a chronic relapser or has a long history with addiction, we recommend at least 60 days to begin to understand what drives the addiction. There’s no magic formula that guarantees success, but the more time you can spend learning and applying the tools of recovery, the higher your chance of success.
And in the grand scheme of things, this is your life we’re talking about—in reality, how much is a few months?