Addiction is a chronic, long-term disease. It doesn’t simply go away and it isn’t cured by treatment. However, whether you’ve been abusing drugs or alcohol, completing an outpatient rehab will create a stable foundation for success in addiction recovery. Rehab provides people with an important range of skills and tools that minimize the risk of relapse. With this support, it’s possible to successfully manage addiction over time. Although there are outpatient programs that last just 30 days, there are also options that last six months or even longer. Moreover, research suggests that longer treatment times generally provide the best outcomes.
The first and most important part of addiction recovery is detox. Until detox is complete, people do not have the physical, mental, or emotional well-being that’s necessary for focusing on and participating in in-depth addiction therapies. For alcohol and other substances, medically assisted detox or detox with ongoing monitoring and medical support is often essential. It can take anywhere from one week to four weeks to successfully clear this hurdle. Once cleared, new withdrawal-related challenges will likely present. These typically come in the form of psychological symptoms referred to as post-acute withdrawal symptoms or (PAWS). They include intense feelings of depression, anxiety, and malaise, along with markedly low levels of motivation and energy. Although they gradually decrease in intensity as time goes on, PAWS can last for several months or one full year. As such, staying in an outpatient program until your emotions have stabilized is often the best choice.
Which Program Length Is Right for You?
30-day outpatient programs are best-suited to people who’ve been using only moderately addictive drugs for a limited amount of time. If you’ve already completed detox and the worst of your physical withdrawal symptoms have abated, this should be sufficient time to learn more about the nature of addiction, advance your coping skills, and establish a solid plan for your new life of sobriety. 30-day outpatient rehab programs also work well for those who’ve completed inpatient treatment before but need additional structured support.
One of the hallmarks for success in addiction recovery lies totally outside of patients’ control. This is what is known as dopamine rebound or central nervous system (CNS) recovery. Depending upon the type and amount of substances you’ve been using, your addiction has likely altered the chemistry, balance, and general functioning of your brain. Using intoxicating or otherwise mind-altering substances triggers the release of important chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Along with dopamine, gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), and other neurotransmitters, these “feel good” chemicals are what create the feelings of euphoria that people experience when they “get high”. Until dopamine rebound or CNS recovery occurs, or until the brain has largely healed from substance abuse, many recovering addicts have a hard time feeling happy or maintaining mood balance on their own. For this reason, 60-day and 90-day programs are frequently recommended. The longer treatment times that these programs provide allow people to enjoy the benefit of consistent mood balance by the time their rehab has ended.
Extending Your Treatment After an Outpatient Program Is Complete
If you’ve started a 30-day program but know that you could benefit from additional support, you always have the option of extending your treatment. All rehab programs encourage patients to outline their options in post-treatment support, extended treatment, and relapse prevention before exiting. There are many ways to continue addiction treatment after an outpatient program has reached its end. You can make arrangements to stay right where you are, enroll in another facility, move into a sober living home, or sign up for a formal relapse prevention program.
Taking a Structured Approach to Long-Term Planning in Outpatient Rehab
Before cutting your time in outpatient rehab short by signing up for a 30-day program, consider some of the extended benefits that longer treatment times provide. In month-long programs, much of the focus in treatment is placed on helping clients adjust to their new normal. You’ll spend much of your time in outpatient treatment learning new coping strategies, working on building your distress tolerance and discovering new stress management techniques.
With more time available, you can work with the case manager in your outpatient program to start tackling outside issues head-on. After years of substance abuse, many people in addiction recovery are facing:
- Housing instability
- Financial distress
- Loss of meaningful relationships
Life-planning services in extended outpatient rehab can help you find the resources for correcting many of the issues that your substance abuse has caused. Addressing these and other challenges during treatment greatly limits the risk of relapse by minimizing post-treatment stress.
If you’re looking for a place to start your addiction recovery and have more questions about outpatient rehab, we’ve got answers. Call us today at 833.970.2054.