Is 28 Days in Rehab Long Enough?

When you research the rehab process, you will inevitably begin to discover the almost gospel-like advice that you really need to invest 28-days in your rehab in order for it to work.

In this short guide, we explore this advice and discuss situations where it may be either good or bad advice.

When you read the newspapers, you may also have picked up this pattern because most celebrities stay in rehab for 28-days. For many in the rehab industry, 28-days has become a sort of ‘sweet spot’. Anything under 28-days is viewed as insufficient for therapy to work, and anything over 28-days is viewed as diminishing returns.

In reality, a rehab programme lasting more or less than 28-days may be perfectly acceptable, depending largely upon your personal circumstances. Below, we shall discuss these circumstances in depth.

Why is 28-days seen as the sweet spot?

Before we discuss situations where 28-days may not be the best course of action, we shall first discuss why the 28-day rule is advisable in many situations.

First, you need to realise that 28-day equates to four blocks of 7-days i.e. 28-days equals four weeks. Rehab centres favour this amount of time because their core programmes are designed to run over this period. Experience has taught rehabs that clients are much more likely to relapse if they are not exposed to around 28-days’ worth of therapy sessions.

Rehab clinics employ therapy techniques that could inflict more harm than good if not correctly implemented. Therapy techniques are largely based on psychotherapy and cognitive therapy. These therapy techniques help you neutralise traumatic experiences by revisiting them in individual therapy sessions.

If you are not exposed to enough therapy sessions, starting the process may mean that you are actually digressing rather than progressing. This is one reason why many rehab clinics will not entertain anything less than a 28-day rehab programme. After all, rehab clinics are not in business to harm their clients.

Also, many rehabs offer behavioural therapy and relapse prevention training. These therapies require many hours of practice in order to succeed. If you merely stay in rehab for 14-days, this is unlikely to be enough time for these therapies and training techniques to work.

In our opinion, the 28-day advice is perhaps most applicable for those of you who have never undertaken any rehab treatment in the past. In this case, you will likely require a full 28-days in order to fully rehabilitate.

When is less than 28-days recommended?

Generally, the answer to this question is never. Even if you have been through rehab 3-4 times and keep relapsing, undergoing 28-days will always be better than a 7, 14 or 21-day rehab. Anything less than 28-days will really be viewed as a compromise.

However, compromising may be better than doing nothing at all. For people who have never gone to rehab before, we generally advise that anything less than 28-days may cause more harm than good, but if you’ve been through rehab before and you practically cannot undertake a 28-day rehab, then less may be a compromise that’s worth taking.

Many people who have already gone through rehab before may elect to undertake a 10-day detox if they have fallen off the wagon. In this situation, these people are familiar with the 12-steps, familiar with the workshops and education and familiar with the therapy techniques on offer. All these people may require is a quick medical detox in order to resume their recovery.

Reasons-why a 28-day rehab may be impractical

Below, we list a number of reasons why a 28-day rehab may be impractical:

  • Family commitments
  • Work commitments
  • Available funds
  • Health problems
  • Court appearance
  • Your health insurance won’t cover 28-days
  • Other commitments are coming up e.g. you’ve got a holiday booked

We urge you to re-examine your reason for not wanting to undertake a 28-day rehab. Is this reason really just an excuse? Also, are there steps you may take to overcome these reasons why you can’t undertake a 28-day rehab? For instance, are you able to organise alternative childcare? Are you able to trust the running of your business to another? Are you able to miss that holiday?

The above analysis may mean that you are able to overcome reasons that otherwise prevent you from going to rehab for 28 days. If you are simply unable to overcome these reasons, you may be justified in attending a rehab programme that’s less than 28-days.

When is 28-days not enough?

Alternatively, there will be situations where 28-days is simply not enough for a rehabilitation to take place. This may be the case if you are suffering from mental health problems, or if you have attended 28-day programmes in the past but without sustaining your recovery in the real world.

Many long-term rehabs do not offer detox services. This means you will typically undertake your detox at a separate clinic. Also, many long-term rehabs are publicly funded, and it’s uncommon for private rehabs to offer rehabs lasting anything over 6-weeks.

Some long-term rehabs are run by charities and the Church of England. When you attend a long-term rehab, you will be expected to cook meals for the group and to work on the land. Doing so is thought to better prepare you for real-life situations that will inevitably occur once you return home.

Don’t expect to find the same luxuries at long-term rehabs that you will discover at short-term rehabs. You simply cannot compare the two.

Even if you don’t suffer from severe mental health problems, you may still require more than 28-days in order to fully rehabilitate. You must really appreciate the emotional, physical and social damage that’s been inflicted at the hands of your addiction and realise that undoing this damage will likely require longer than 28-days.

You may benefit from attending a 28-day rehab on the understanding that your treatment may require an even greater investment of time. Many people in need of longer rehabs often remain within the clinic for 60-90 days, which equates to around 2-3 months. Many studies have shown that 90-day rehab programmes offer greater recovery success to programmes run for 28-60 days. These studies prove that it’s simply untrue to say that remaining in rehab for more than 28-days is giving you diminishing returns.

It’s also important to ensure you attend a rehab that offers a free aftercare programme as part of its overall treatment plan. Aftercare is offered on an outpatient basis, but aftercare often serves to fill the void that’s created when you are discharged from a residential rehab clinic.

The need for housing and employment

Many rehabs also assist you in securing social housing in your local area, as well as employment. In fact, many rehabs advertise their services by guaranteeing that they’ll secure you social housing and a job following the completion of their treatment programme. If you require this service to be incorporated into your rehab package, you simply cannot expect this to materialise overnight. Instead, you will almost certainly be required to undertake a 28-day rehab programme if require this enhanced level of service.

Getting tailored advice

The above is merely presented as guidelines. The recommended amount of time to spend in a rehab will vary between individuals. Rehab 4 Alcoholism offers a free telephone assessment. You can benefit from this assessment by calling us on 0800 111 4108. During this assessment, we will advise whether we feel you should remain in a rehab clinic. We also advise on different types of rehab treatment, such as inpatient, outpatient, long-term and dual-diagnosis rehab options.