How Long Is Alcohol Rehab? Alcohol Detox and Rehab Lengths

3 min read · 4 sections
Since everyone is unique and alcohol use disorder treatment is customized to meet the needs of each individual, treatment lengths vary according to a host of factors. However, by exploring these variables, professional recommendations regarding duration, and how insurance coverage factors into this equation you can form some generalizations regarding the length of alcohol detox and rehab.
What you will learn:
Factors affecting the length of alcohol use disorder treatment.
Insights on the length of detox, inpatient rehab, and outpatient treatment.
Insurance-related considerations regarding length of treatment.
How to get help.

What Impacts the Length of Alcohol Rehab?

Treatment for alcohol misuse and alcohol use disorders isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Therefore, the length of time people spend in rehab also differs by individual. Factors that impact the length of treatment include:

  • Severity of the disorder and the length of time the individual has been misusing alcohol.
  • Level of care needed.
  • Presence of co-occurring disorders (i.e., when an individual has both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder).
  • Insurance coverage, insurance plan stipulations, and ability to pay.
  • Physical health.
  • Patient motivation.
  • Past treatment history.

While treatment duration varies, as a general rule, longer periods of time spent in treatment are associated with higher success rates.

How Long Does Alcohol Recovery Take?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), fewer than 90 days in inpatient or outpatient treatment has limited effectiveness, and significantly longer treatment periods are recommended.1

Additionally, the NIDA points out that recovery is a long-term process that may require multiple episodes of treatment. After all, addiction is a chronic illness. So just as people continue to treat heart disease or diabetes, for example, treatment for alcohol use disorder may be ongoing at varying degrees of care. Plus, relapse may be a part of the process—as opposed to a moral failing—signaling that treatment needs to be adjusted or simply reinstated.1

Also keep in mind that treatment isn’t exclusively carried out at an inpatient treatment center. Multiple treatment settings and levels of care are available, and short-term stays in inpatient rehab are often supplemented by other forms of treatment. Plus, when a long-term stay in an inpatient treatment facility isn’t realistic, any treatment is better than none at all.

How Long Is Alcohol Detox?

Detox for alcohol is usually recommended at the inpatient level of care for at least the first 24 hours due to the unpredictable and sometimes fatal consequences of alcohol withdrawal. However, numerous factors can impact the length and severity of alcohol withdrawal, including:2,3

  • How long the person has been drinking alcohol.
  • How much alcohol the person has been consuming.
  • When they last drank alcohol.
  • Whether the patient has been engaging in polysubstance misuse (i.e., using other substances and drinking alcohol concurrently).
  • Whether they have experienced severe alcohol withdrawal in the past.

So how long is alcohol detox? That answer is different for each person based on these factors.

How Long is Inpatient Alcohol Rehab?

Inpatient alcohol rehab provides 24/7 care to patients living within the facility. It’s a highly structured form of care that often combines group and individual counseling along with various therapies, nutritional support, and more.1

Inpatient programs are often offered in 30-, 60-, and 90-day increments. However, the aforementioned factors that determine lengths of stay also apply to inpatient care, so these timeframes vary by individual.

Also note that inpatient care is typically more expensive than outpatient treatment. As such, insurance companies may set limits on inpatient care. For example, some may only pay for outpatient care, others limit inpatient care to certain circumstances, and still others cap the number of inpatient days covered, etc.

How Long is Outpatient Alcohol Rehab?

Outpatient alcohol rehab offers many of the same forms of treatment as inpatient therapy, just at a lower level of intensity. And as the name implies, patients return home at night. The following levels of care are all types of outpatient care:4

  • Standard outpatient programs are typically lower in intensity than the following options and may only require that patients meet a few hours per week.
  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) typically meet several days per week, with a weekly total of between 9 and 20 hours.
  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), which are often called “day treatment,” often meet for a minimum of 20 hours per week.

A patient’s total length of stay in any of these programs varies based on individual factors and their progress in treatment. Plus, it’s common for patients to transfer between various levels of care based on their needs.

What Duration of Alcohol Rehab Does Insurance Cover?

How long alcohol rehab lasts can sometimes be dependent on the amount and length of coverage provided by the patient’s insurance company. Thanks to two federal mandates—the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA)—most insurance companies are required to provide some type of coverage for substance use disorder treatment.5,6 However, the extent of this coverage is determined by individual insurance providers, and plans from these providers vary in their level of coverage.

Thus, the length of coverage an insurance company will pay for is based on myriad variables, including the plan itself, whether the carrier deems a particular type of treatment medically necessary or a medical necessity for a specific individual, and more.

Generally speaking, an insurance company will work with the patient’s healthcare providers and/or addiction professionals to determine if a specific type of treatment is medically necessary. Additionally, some plans only cover specific levels of care (e.g., detox) while others set duration limits on various levels. Still other plans cover a wide range of treatment levels and provide coverage through a continuum of care as a patient moves from detox to inpatient to outpatient, for example.

In addition to these variables, several other factors—e.g., co-pays, deductibles, out-of-pocket limits, etc.—impact how much someone with insurance will pay out of pocket for treatment.

Clearly, then, the best way to determine what your insurance will cover, and the duration and type of treatment covered under your plan, is to verify your benefits. With treatment centers scattered across the U.S., American Addiction Centers at can verify your benefits for a stay at one of its facilities.

But what if you don’t have insurance?

Other forms of payment are also available such as:

  • Financing/payment plans. For those who qualify, payment plans and sliding fee scales are offered at some facilities, allowing you to pay what you can afford based on your income.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) funding/block grants. SAMHSA’s block grants provide funding for substance misuse and mental health services for qualified applicants.
  • Cash or self-payment. Many facilities accept cash and credit, and individuals sometimes secure loans from banks, loved ones, and/or various lending facilities to pay for treatment.
  • Free and no-cost treatment. Various state and city governments offer free or low-cost treatment options for those who qualify. Additionally, programs may be available for special populations such as Veterans, pregnant women, etc.

How to Find Alcohol Rehab

No matter what your financial or insurance-coverage situation, it’s important to seek treatment for alcohol use disorder promptly and for as long as is feasible and necessary. Again, while longer lengths of treatment are associated with higher success rates, some form of treatment is certainly better than nothing at all.1

American Addiction Centers can help connect you to a host of treatment options throughout the U.S. that provide varying levels of care. Along with traditional treatment and therapy offerings, many AAC facilities also specialize in specific populations (e.g., Veterans, members of the LGBTQ+ community, those seeking faith-based options, and more) and offer a host of services and amenities (e.g., pools, fitness centers, yoga, equine therapy, etc.).

If you’re ready to begin your recovery journey, reach out to American Addiction Centers at . Our admissions navigators can help you verify your benefits, explore alternative payment options, and understand treatment questions.



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