Long-Term Rehab

Written by Jonathan Strum

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Last Updated - 08/10/2023

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Updated 08/10/2023

When making decisions about where to go for drug or alcohol addiction treatment, there are numerous options. For instance, you can choose between an inpatient program, which requires you to live on-site at a treatment center, or an outpatient facility that allows you to continue to live at home. One option that can be beneficial, especially in the case of a severe substance use disorder, is long-term rehab.

What Is Considered Long-Term Substance Use?

Long-term substance use describes situations in which a person has been using substances for years. It turns out that this is the most common form of substance misuse. In fact, a recent study found that substance use disorders tend to be chronic rather than acute, and it takes an average of 17 years for a person to achieve a state of remission.

Unfortunately, chronic drug use has a negative effect on the brain. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), drug addiction changes the structure of the brain and alters how it responds to rewards, stress and situations requiring self-control. Long-term drug misuse also disrupts the healthy functioning of the brain and can lead to death if untreated, which is why it is important to seek treatment.

Because of changes to the brain, addiction leads to compulsive drug-seeking that can be difficult for a person to overcome on their own. Long-term rehab can help people to recover safely and heal from the harmful effects of substance misuse.

What Is Long-Term Inpatient Treatment?

When people think of inpatient treatment programs, they may imagine a 30-day program. While some people may benefit from these short-term programs, attending rehab long-term is also an option. Long-term inpatient programs tend to last at least three months but can last as long as a year.

While enrolled in a long-term inpatient rehab, patients live on-site at a treatment facility rather than returning home at night. They may go on brief outings within the community, but afterward, they return to the rehab facility and remain there for the duration of the program.

Therapies and Treatments Used in Long-Term Inpatient Rehab

Long-term rehabilitation programs typically provide a variety of services to help patients recover from substance use disorders. While in a rehab facility, patients participate in individual and group therapy, as well as other activities that are beneficial for their recovery. Beyond therapy, patients tend to partake in treatments that can include:

  • Support group meetings
  • Mental health counseling
  • Medication management
  • Recreational activities, such as yoga or sports
  • Alternative therapies, such as art therapy
  • Family counseling
  • Medical services
  • Job/vocational training
  • Case management services to assist with housing, finances and other needs

Qualifying Substances Treated at Long-Term Rehab

If you have a severe substance use disorder or have been unsuccessful with previous attempts to stop using substances, you may benefit from long-term rehab. There are a variety of substances of abuse that may require you to attend a long-term rehab program. These include:

Benefits of Long-Term Inpatient Rehab

There are several benefits associated with long-term inpatient rehab. First, staying in treatment for a longer period of time increases the chance of success. According to NIDA, most people with addiction require at least three months of treatment to significantly reduce or stop the use of drugs. In addition, the best outcomes typically occur with longer periods of treatment. Staying in treatment for a longer duration gives you an adequate amount of time to commit to your recovery and truly overcome the effects of addiction.

Some reasons that long-term inpatient rehab is beneficial include:

  • It removes you from daily stressors that can interfere with your recovery.
  • You have time to truly focus on your recovery, without other obligations to tend to.
  • You will not have access to substances or other triggers for drug use.
  • You will benefit from a structured program that helps you develop a period of sobriety before returning to the community.

What To Expect in Long-Term Treatment

If you enroll in a long-term inpatient program, you can expect to live on-site at a treatment facility for three or more months. This means you will need to make arrangements to leave home and perhaps take a leave of absence from work. Family and loved ones may be able to visit you at your facility, but you will be away from home for quite some time.

While in treatment, you will participate in a variety of services intended to help you heal from addiction. Your treatment team will develop a treatment plan that addresses every area of life affected by your addiction. You are likely to participate in support groups, individual and group counseling, medication management, mental health counseling and therapeutic activities like art and yoga.

Long-Term Inpatient Treatment vs. Other Treatments

The benefit of long-term inpatient treatment vs. treatments like outpatient care is that inpatient programs remove people from their home environments, where they likely face triggers for drug use. Within the structure of inpatient programs, people in recovery do not have access to drugs or the people or situations associated with their drug use.

In addition, more time in a treatment center means more time to identify underlying issues. When in treatment, people with addiction are often asked to examine themselves and confront any underlying issues that contribute to a drug or alcohol addiction. Additionally, they often speak with mental health professionals who can aid in identifying these issues. If the process is rushed in a short-term program, the underlying issues may not be confronted and therefore cannot be resolved.

Finally, long-term treatment means more time in sobriety before leaving the program. Leaving a rehabilitation center at any point will most likely be intimidating, but leaving after only a short time can be even more frightening and nerve-racking. If someone leaves rehab with only 30 days of sobriety — versus having three months or even a year under their belt — they are less likely to feel confident in their recovery, which could lead to relapse.

Long-term rehab may not be for everyone, especially those who need to continue to live at home to work and care for families. However, there are numerous benefits for those who are a good fit for long-term inpatient care.

Paying for Long-Term Treatment With Insurance

Cost is one concern that arises with long-term treatment programs. Fortunately, many insurances cover some of the cost of inpatient rehab, which reduces your out-of-pocket costs. Coverage varies based on your insurance company, and some companies may only cover shorter stays in rehab. Contact your insurance provider for questions about your coverage, or verify your benefits with a treatment facility before enrolling in long-term rehab.

How To Find a Long-Term Inpatient Rehab in Colorado

If you’re looking for a long-term inpatient rehab facility in Colorado, you might consider speaking with your doctor about available options. You can also use the treatment services locator tool from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to find a facility near you.

For those in the Denver area, The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake is located just minutes from the airport. We offer a full range of treatment services, including inpatient rehabmedical detox and outpatient programming. Contact us today to learn more or begin the admissions process.

FAQs on Long-Term Inpatient Rehab

How Long Can You Stay In Rehab?

The length of time you can stay in rehab will depend on your unique needs and situation, including the number of days your insurance plan will allow you to stay in rehab. Many people benefit from staying in rehab for longer periods of time. You might begin in an inpatient program and then transition to outpatient care, potentially staying enrolled in some form of treatment for several months.

What’s the Shortest Time You Can Stay In Rehab?

Some rehab programs are brief, lasting just 28 to 30 days. However, experts recommend that people stay in treatment for at least three months to ensure the best outcomes.

How Long Is Long-Term Rehab?

Long-term rehab typically lasts at least three months and can last for as long as a year.


Fleury, M.J., et al. “Remission from substance use disorders: […]eta-analysis.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, November 2016. Accessed August 27, 2022.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What is drug addiction?”>” July 13, 2020. Accessed August 27, 2022.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: […]uide (Third Edition).” September 18, 2020. Accessed August 27, 2022.


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