When it comes to choosing which drug and alcohol treatment center to go to, one of the most important things you should consider is length-of-stay (LOS). Some places offer 2-week curriculums and others year-long excursions, but typically, the average length-of-stay (LOS) for inpatient treatment is 30 days.
However, in most cases, this may not be long enough to successfully recover from substance abuse or addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more successful outcomes occur when an individual enrolls in an addiction treatment program for at least 90 days.
That’s because there’s no quick fix to addiction.
Addiction is a complex brain disease that is often associated with underlying issues like mental health disorders, trauma and stress. And it takes time to dive into these underlying issues in order to properly address them and promote healing.
At Stonegate Center, a rehab center just west of Fort Worth, Texas, we believe in long-term addiction treatment. And our numbers tell you why. For instance, Stonegate Center alumni who stay up to 90 days in our residential facility tend to have better outcomes than clients who stay 45 days.
Because of this data, we always encourage clients to stay in treatment for 90 days.
Now, we realize 90 days might not be possible for some clients due to insurance coverage, work and home life responsibilities, etc. And that’s why we partner up with local after-care programs like Trevor’s House and other intensive outpatient programs (IOP) – to maximize the continuum of care.
However, these numbers can’t be ignored.
The following article will address the benefits of long-term addiction treatment, how it effects your brain, and why Stonegate Center offers a 90-day inpatient curriculum for addiction. By the end of it, I hope you’re encouraged to go to rehab for 90 days or at least engage in some sort of long-term after-care program like sober living.
Double Your Probability of Success By Staying in Treatment for at least 90 Days
It’s often said that “relapse is part of recovery” and oftentimes it is. According to NIDA, 40-60% of people relapse after treatment. But it is also known that the longer a client is in treatment, the lower an individual’s chances of relapse are.
For instance, a 2012 NIDA study shows that relapse rates decrease the longer someone remains in residential treatment. After 3 weeks in treatment, an individual has about a 10% chance of remaining sober. After 45 days, the individual’s chances increase to about 35%. At 90 days, the individual’s chances of remaining sober increase to 60%.
Data retrieved from NIDA (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). Retrieved January 19, 2017, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition
Addiction professionals, like Lisa Onken, chief of NIDA’s behavioral and integrative treatment, know that “longer treatment reflects the fact that addiction is a chronic, and relapsing disorder.”
Long term issues call for long term solutions.
To be frank, there isn’t a quick-and-easy fix to addiction. And that’s why we can’t expect people who have been suffering from addiction for years to solve their problem in 30 days. Addiction is caused by months or years of engaging in maladaptive behaviors, so why would you think you can “fix” it in a couple of weeks?
One of my main tasks at Stonegate Center Creekside, our substance abuse treatment center for men near DFW, is to follow up with each client on a regular basis after they discharge. By doing so, I am able to check in on their progress and provide support if needed. But more importantly, these phone calls allow me to track outcomes or success rates to see how our program faired for each client.
With roughly 2 years of data, I have found that Stonegate Center alumni who stay the full 90 days double their odds of being completely abstinent at the one-year mark compared to a 45-day resident. Because of that, we always encourage our clients to extend to 90 days whenever possible.
Why wouldn’t we?
The numbers say that the longer you stay, the better you do. For clients that means a better ROI on your treatment expenses and lower lifetime medical costs caused by repeat relapses and drug-related health issues. Plus, you get to live a happy and healthy life not burdened by drug and alcohol addiction.
It’s a win-win.
Moreover, I believe that willingness has a huge part in all of this because we do have successful clients that leave at day 45 or 60. However, they absolutely would have done 90 days at our residential treatment center if they could. So, don’t think that just because you’re partaking in our 45-day program, you’re doing something wrong.
Quite the contrary!
Participating in our 45-day inpatient treatment program is the perfect start. Just know that it’s the beginning of your recovery journey, not the end. That’s why I encourage you to follow through with a long-term after-care plan like attending sober living for 3-6 months or enrolling in an intensive outpatient program (IOP).
I find that clients who are short-term focused (i.e. clients who count the days until discharge or clients who are itching to go home) tend to do poorer than those that do. Instead of focusing on the long-term goal, which is lifelong sobriety, these clients just want to leave. And therefore, they don’t invest in themselves and fail to take advantages of all the services we provide.
The clients who do better are the ones who are motivated. They’re the ones who are open to extending from 45 days to 90 days and are willing to continue their recovery journey in sober living. It’s these guys that do substantially better, and my data proves that.
The Brain Requires More Than 30 Days to Heal from Chronic Substance Abuse
Drug addiction and alcoholism are not just bad habits; they are chronic diseases that affect the body in disruptive ways and change the biology of the brain. Substance abuse tricks the brain’s reward system by releasing higher dopamine levels than non-drugs. This can hinder a person’s judgement and decision-making.
“The problem is that the dopamine system can make you believe that certain experiences are worth remembering — and repeating — over and over again, even if the experience is harmful to the body (hence the problem with alcohol or drugs),”explains Sara Shepperd in an article breaking down the link between dopamine and addiction recovery.
The Recovery Research Institute (RRI) shares data on how characteristics of addiction are similar to other chronic diseases and, therefore, require extensive time to heal. Researchers there suggest, “Just as cardiovascular disease damages the heart and changes its functioning; addiction changes the brain and impairs the way it works.”
The photo below shows a normally functioning brain as compared to a brain recovering from methamphetamine use. Greater activity is shown in reds and yellows. The healthy brain shows greater activity than the diseased brain.
In drug addiction, the frontal cortex (the part of the brain associated with judgment and decision-making) shows less activity. You can see in the photo that activity is almost completely restored in the frontal cortex after 14 months of abstinence.
Data and Photo Credits: https://www.recoveryanswers.org/recovery-101/brain-in-recovery/
In order to heal the brain completely and restore its proper functioning, it requires time. And according to the RRI, the longer you abstain from alcohol, the better your executive functioning, brain activity, and short-term memory.
See, this is why we recommend 90 days at Stonegate Center. The brain’s healing has only just begun at the 30-day mark. Allowing our clients to stay up to 90 days greatly improves their brains’ cognitive functioning, discretion, and decision making – and ultimately increases their probability of success.
What Does 90 days of Inpatient Rehab Look Like at Stonegate Center?
90 days of inpatient treatment for drug and alcohol addiction allows for an individual to be removed from the temptations of society and offered a chance to recover in a safe and drug free environment. This allows the client to focus on all their treatment needs and get to the root of their problem.
During the 90 days at Stonegate Center, each client has a chance to form healthy habits and practice daily disciplines that our 12-Step program teaches. We believe that the longer someone has to implement a recovery routine into their daily lives, the better chance it will stick when they transition to the next phase of their recovery.
At Stonegate Center, teaching our clients about service work is extremely important. We have a mentorship program that offers the more senior members of the community who display leadership qualities a chance to practice working with their peers. Successful recovery is all about community, accountability and service.
The longer our clients stay in treatment to experience and grow those aspects of their lives, the better chances they have to acquire long-term sobriety.
In addition, long term treatment offers time for families to cope and heal. Substance abuse does not only affect the user, but also their family and friends. During a client’s stay at Stonegate, we recommend all family members attend Al-Anon. This allows the family the opportunity to build a support network with others who are going through a similar struggle.
Our clinical team starts working not only with the client but also the family by holding family counseling sessions as well as family programming every month. The clients who stay passed 45 days will always have the opportunity to engage in Phase 2 of family programming which is a more in depth look at family dynamics and an opportunity to further educated families on addiction.
Some additional benefits that 90-day clients get are listed below:
- More Individualized Treatment. By enrolling in our program for the full 90 days, we are better able to tailor our services to your needs. This allows us to get to know you, your story, as well as your clinical and medical history on a lot deeper level. And by staying longer, you’ll have access to more individual therapy sessions with your primary clinician, which are vital to your recovery
- Larger Community of Brothers. Staying the full 3-months on our campus let’s you interact with more like-minded peers. This gives you a larger group of guys to relate to, work with in small and large group, and interact with post-discharge as a part of our Alumni Program. And seeing as community is a HUGE part of our philosophy, this could be essential to your success.
- More Family Program Sessions. Our family program is scheduled to take place twice over the course of 90 days. That means that our 45-day clients only get to attend one session, but our 90-day clients get to attend two sessions. This is a great chance for your family to learn what goes on in treatment and gives them access to counseling from our Clinical Director. By creating a positive family and home environment, you are increasing your chances of success.
- Bridge Ceremony. One of the special things we reserve for our 90-day clients is the Bridge Ceremony. This is a fun way to celebrate each client when they reach that 3-month mark and send them off in style. The entire community gathers on one side of the bridge, says their goodbyes and other kind words, and cheers them on as they cross the bridge to their family. Plus, you get a t-shirt!
Increase Your Chance at Success and Stay 90 Days!
Overall, extending treatment to 90 days is more beneficial to clients and their families for success in the long haul. At Stonegate, we want every person leaving our center to be set up for success, and we know that a minimum stay of 30 days simply won’t cut it.
By forming new routines and disciplines, gaining mentorship and accountability, working through the 12 Steps, and medically and mentally stabilizing during a 90-day process, patients are simply more likely to achieve long term sobriety.
We know that 90 days of inpatient treatment might not be possible for everyone due to insurance coverage, work and home life responsibilities, etc. And that’s okay! That’s why we partner up with after-care facilities like Trevor’s House, our sober living facility in Fort Worth, and other intensive outpatient programs (IOP) in the area to maximize each client’s care.
On a serious note, if you or a loved one is struggling with chemical dependency and need help, feel free to reach out. Our Admissions Specialists can be reached at (817) 993-9733 or firstname.lastname@example.org. They’re in recovery themselves and are happy to answer any rehab-related questions you might have.
Look forward to having you on our campus 😊.
Dylan is a certified recovery specialist and is passionate about helping those suffering from the effects of addiction navigate through recovery. He believes that the continuum of care is a necessary and vital part of the recovery process. Dylan has over 7 years of lived experience with addiction and enjoys sharing his experience to help others overcome their disease.