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How Long Is Alcohol Rehab?

Last Updated: February 28, 2024

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

It’s important to know what factors contribute to the duration of alcohol rehab when considering starting treatment for alcohol addiction.

When a person begins addiction treatment, they often wonder how long it will last. This is an important consideration, especially if you have other responsibilities like work, family and raising children. So, how long is alcohol rehab? It can vary based on the severity of your addiction and the specific type of treatment you choose. 

Factors Affecting the Duration of Alcohol Rehab

There isn’t one set length of alcohol rehab because many factors can influence how long a person spends in treatment. Consider the following:

  • Addiction severity: Someone with a more severe alcohol addiction will likely need to spend more time in treatment than someone with a mild alcohol addiction. 
  • Financial considerations: The length of an alcohol rehab program can also depend on how much money a person can invest in treatment. Someone with a larger budget may spend more time in treatment because finances allow them to do so. On the other hand, a person with more limited financial resources may choose a shorter program.
  • Type of rehab program: Different alcohol rehab programs can vary in length. For instance, a residential treatment program may last around a month, whereas outpatient programs can be longer. 

While multiple factors affect the length of alcohol addiction treatment, it’s important to recognize that regardless of your unique circumstances, you must spend enough time in treatment to truly benefit from it. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends people spend at least three months in treatment to ensure the best outcomes. 

How Long Is Medical Detox for Alcohol? 

Since alcohol withdrawal can be uncomfortable and sometimes fatal, alcohol rehab often begins with a medical detox program. These programs provide patients with access to medication and support to keep them as comfortable as possible and reduce the risk of serious complications, like seizures or delirium tremens, a condition that can occur during alcohol withdrawal. 

The length of medical detox will depend on the severity of a patient’s withdrawal symptoms. Mild symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, including tremors, upset stomach, sweating and headache, tend to appear 6–12 hours after the last drink and subside within a few days. Symptoms like hallucinations may occur a day after the last drink and subside within two days, whereas seizures may not appear until 48 hours after a person has stopped drinking. 

Patients who progress to delirium tremens, the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal, will require a longer duration of medical detox. Symptoms of delirium tremens can persist for five to seven days. Given that alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range in severity, some patients with milder symptoms may only need to spend a few days in medical detox, whereas those with more severe alcohol withdrawal can expect to spend 7–10 days in detox. 

How Long Is Alcohol Rehab? 

Like medical detox, the length of alcohol rehab can also vary, depending on whether a person is in residential or outpatient care. 

Residential Alcohol Rehab Duration

Residential treatment programs require patients to live on-site at a facility while in rehab. These programs provide intensive, around-the-clock care. While in residential alcohol rehab, a person has access to medical services, medication management, support groups and different therapies. Because services are so intensive, residential care tends to be shorter in duration when compared to outpatient rehab. A person may spend a month in residential treatment and then transition to an outpatient program for ongoing care. 

Outpatient Alcohol Rehab Duration

Outpatient programs allow patients to continue to live at home while enrolled in rehab. Patients in outpatient care attend regular appointments at a clinic or facility within the community and then return home afterward. Outpatient programs are often longer than residential treatment, but how long a particular person spends in treatment will differ based on their unique needs and the specifics of the program offered at the outpatient facility. Outpatient programs often last three months, but some may be longer. 

How Length of Stay Affects Cost of Treatment

Your length of stay in treatment will affect the cost, with longer stays being more expensive than shorter stays. For example, if you’re in a residential program, you will incur costs for each day you spend in treatment. After all, you’ll be provided meals, a place to stay and around-the-clock care daily. This means 28 days in a residential facility will come with a higher bill than 14 days. 

Outpatient care functions similarly; there is a cost associated with each appointment you attend. So, if you spend a longer time in outpatient care and attend a larger number of appointments, the price will be higher. The good news is that many insurances offer coverage for addiction treatment, so you will not have to pay for your entire treatment out-of-pocket. 

Are Longer Alcohol Rehab Programs Better?

The length of time in alcohol rehab will depend on your unique needs. Some people may do well with shorter stays in rehab, whereas others may need to be in treatment for longer. That being said, the minimum recommended treatment duration is three months. Most people need at least this amount of time in rehab to reduce their alcohol use, and some may need even more to be successful. 

Get Help for Alcohol Addiction Today 

If you’re seeking Georgia alcohol rehab, The Recovery Village Atlanta is here to help. We offer a full range of alcohol rehab services, including medical detox, residential treatment, partial hospitalization programming and intensive outpatient care. Our residential facility offers personal space, with privacy walls built into each room. Contact us today to learn more or start your rehab journey.


National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide.” January 2018. Accessed August 12, 2023. 

Mirijello, A., et al. “Identification and Management of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome.” Drugs, 2015. Accessed August 12, 2023.

Bayard, Max; McIntyre, Jonah; Hill, Keith; Woodside, Jack. “Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome.” American Family Physician, 2004. Accessed August 12, 2023. 

McCarty, Dennis, et al. “Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs: Assessing the Evidence.” Psychiatry Services, June 1, 2014. Accessed August 12, 2023.