How Long Does Rehab Take: Understanding the Recovery Process

Addiction is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Whether it’s an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or gambling, it can tear lives apart and do irreparable damage to family units and communities.

For those looking for help overcoming an addiction, a stay in a rehabilitation centre is often the best course of action. However, there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding rehab and how it works. We’re here to dispel some of these myths and discuss what exactly rehab is and how long it takes. If you’re keen on finding out about treatment drug addiction, and rehab, we’ve put together a guide just for you. Find out more below.

How Does Addiction Work?

How Does Addiction Work?

Before we can discuss rehab and how long it can take, first, we need to clarify what addiction is and how it works.

Addiction is defined as the repeated, chronic use of a substance or a pattern of behaviour. Addicts cannot control their urges and will continue to use drugs or partake in a certain activity regardless of the damage it is causing them or those around them. Addicts will often attempt to quit but will relapse as the cravings become too strong.

Addiction is closely connected to the brain’s reward system, which is used to motivate us to take part in healthy, beneficial behaviour. For example, when we do something like exercise, our brains will release dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that elicits feelings of happiness and satisfaction. We are then motivated to repeat this behaviour in the future to feel these positive effects again.

Drugs and certain activities like gambling can also release dopamine in the brain. These activities are then associated with these behaviours, leading to recurring use. However, as the brain becomes desensitized, it takes more and more to feel the same effects.

What’s more, repeated use can affect how the brain handles negative emotions. Feelings of stress and anxiety can arise during periods of withdrawal, driving addicts towards using again.

Finally, addiction can alter areas of the brain that control decision-making. This can cause sufferers to behave in increasingly risky and anti-social ways to help feed their addiction.
Drugs like cocaine or heroin are what most people think of when they hear the word addiction. However, addiction comes in many forms, people can be addicted to things like shopping, eating, and social media too.

What is Rehab?

What is Rehab?

Addiction can be incredibly harmful, and it can be almost impossible to break out of the cycle without professional help and guidance.

Rehab centres are dedicated healthcare services designed to directly address the problem of addiction. They provide safe spaces where sufferers can access special treatments and support.

Inpatient rehab centres are the most well-known and often offer the highest level of care. These are secure centres where abstinence is strictly enforced, whether you’re addicted to drugs, alcohol, or gambling, you can rest assured that you will not be able to access these things while at a rehab centre.

Addicts are often vulnerable and can have additional needs and requirements. Inpatient rehab centres are safe and secure, offering patients the care they need without fear of judgement or differential treatment.

Outpatient rehab centres are also available. These might be more suitable for those living with less serious addictions, and the responsibility for not using them will ultimately be theirs.

What Happens at Rehab?

What Happens at Rehab?

Addiction is an extremely complex condition, and as such, treatment needs to be multi-faceted and comprehensive.

The first stage of a stay at rehab involves a process known as detoxing. Detoxing is the breaking of the physical addiction and the removal of all substance traces from the body. This can be an incredibly difficult process that requires medical guidance and supervision.

Depending on the particular addiction, certain medications may be required to wean the patient off.

Some patients may choose to go through meth detox without these methods, an approach commonly referred to as ‘cold turkey’. However, this requires approval from the medical team and constant, as withdrawals from certain substances, such as alcohol, can be extremely dangerous.

After the detoxing process, work will begin to break the psychological addiction. Again, this is a complex process, often more difficult than breaking the physical addiction.

Psychological reasons for the addiction are highly personal and will depend on a patient’s unique circumstances and background.

Therapy sessions are used to uncover the underlying causes that have led to addiction. This can be helpful and give the patient clear insight as to how their condition has developed.

Addiction relapses are often triggered by certain things, such as stress. Therapy can help patients identify these triggers and learn what could lead to a relapse.

Rehab centres will also use therapy sessions to teach patients coping skills. Addiction can affect the decision-making process and impulse control, so these sessions are vital and can teach sufferers how to better manage emotions and cravings.

Therapy sessions in rehab centres come in many forms. They can be group-based, individual, or take the form of cognitive behavioural therapy, which focuses on the particular thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that can enable addiction.

How Long Does Rehab Take?

Addiction is highly personal, no two cases are the same. Treatment at a rehab centre will involve a detox process and then therapy, where a patient’s history is examined to identify the root causes of their condition.

What this means is that the length of time a rehab stay will take varies from person to person. One person may only need to spend a couple of weeks in rehab, while others may need to stay for several months.

Rehab doesn’t end when the patient leaves the centre. They will require support and aftercare as they re-enter society to help them manage their condition and avoid relapsing. For some, rehab is a lifelong process which means they will also need support to fight the impulse to use again.


Rehab centres do vital work and are essential for supporting those in need. Every case of addiction is unique, and so treatments will never be quite the same.

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