Long term alcohol rehabilitation

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Long term rehab refers to rehab that involves at least 90 days of treatment. The addiction treatment takes place at a residential treatment setting.

You may find a rehab centre that requires you to stay longer than 90 days and can last up to a year. In most instances, the treatment lengths depend on the severity of addiction.  

The idea behind long term rehabilitations is that alcohol is a chronic condition. This disease affects the brain's chemistry making it difficult for the body to function without the substance.

Ongoing exposure to alcohol or drugs makes the brain tolerant to the substance. As the individual continues drinking, the brain adapts by learning how to function in the presence of the drug or alcohol.  

Long term alcohol rehab is the best addiction treatment option for people who have: 

  • Chronic addiction  
  • A history of relapsing  
  • Co-occurring disorders  
  • Poor support structure  

There's extensive evidence from addiction research that shows long term rehab is effective at treating drug or alcohol addiction in a professional rehabilitation programme for alcoholics

One type of research dates to 2004 but is still cited as the best evidence in favour of long-term rehab.

The research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that individuals need at least three months of treatment to achieve the best outcomes in terms of recovery [1].  

Data also suggests that a longer residential rehab stay is associated with greater engagement levels in continuing care [4].

Some facilities offer additional secondary care options which transition the person from acute 28 day inpatient treatment into longer term 6-12 month residential or semi-residential supported living.

As the brain becomes tolerant the body becomes sensitive to the substance. The desire for alcohol transitions into a pathological craving (alcohol dependence).

Many times, the alcohol or drug addiction co-occurs with other mental health issues like depression or anxiety. This makes addiction treatment complex, hence the need for long term care.  

According to the Adult substance misuse treatment statistics for 2018 and 2019, 268,251 adults met substance abuse treatment services for that period.

People seeking treatment remain considerably low. Out of those who sought treatment, under half of them (48%) left having successfully completed [2].  

It's necessary for people seeking addiction treatment to go for a rehab centre that offers long term residential treatment programmes to increase chances of long-term sobriety.  

Why long-term addiction treatment  

Long term alcohol or drug addiction treatment is necessary because it's not easy to quit drug or alcohol abuse.

Depending on the severity of the addiction, people who have tried to stop on their own (cold-turkey method) have ended up relapsing.  

Trying to stop substance use on your own is challenging because withdrawal symptoms are painful. The symptoms can appear within 24 hours after your last drink.

Depending on the severity of the addiction, within three hours you could experience seizures. These symptoms could easily become life-threatening.  

There are short-term addiction treatment options. Unlike long term rehab, this treatment plan takes less than three months.

After treatment, the programme may place the client under intensive outpatient care. This is because recovery is a journey and even three months of treatment may not be enough.  

So why long term addiction treatment?  

The answer is because best outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment.

When addicted individuals stay in long term rehab for 90 days or more, they have the chance to deal with the different areas of their lives that have been affected by the addiction.

Alcohol addiction leads issues such as family problems, legal issues, employment issues. Helping the client develop the skills to handle the issues they face in their lives takes time.

That's why long term treatment programmes are preferred by addiction treatment experts.  

Benefits of Long Term Rehab  

There are several benefits to long term rehab. As pointed out earlier, this treatment option has been proven to increase the success rate of the addicted individual attaining a sober life.

Inpatient long term rehab option provides patients with a safe environment free from the substance use.

Moreover, this environment is free from the life issues fuelling the addiction thereby allowing the individual to focus on recovery.  

Long term rehab provides you with 24/7 access to a health professional. You get professional medical advice during the length of your stay. You also get support from other members and staff as you work towards recovery.  

Many drug and alcohol rehab programmes have developed customised treatment programmes for a particular group of people. They may offer programmes for women or teens.

You may also find a treatment facility that has long term treatment options integrated into specialised living formats.

For example, sober living and therapeutic communities that accommodate addicted person for a longer period of time. Such options are a means of preventing relapse through extended treatment.  

Long term alcohol treatment provides an opportunity to teach people healthy habits and skills that will help them maintain a sober life.  

Disadvantages of Long Term Rehab  

There are some reasons addicted persons may turn down long term rehab. These reasons include: 

  • Not having enough coverage. The insurance provider may not be willing to pay for the whole treatment programme.  
  • Fear of losing ones job  
  • Fear that receiving treatment may make others have a negative opinion about you.  
  • The individual may want to handle the alcohol addiction treatment by themselves  
  • Not knowing where to go for treatment.  

It's important to understand the options available so that you can get the right treatment available depending on your needs.

One place to start is by reaching out to a treatment provider to get the help that you or your loved one needs.  

What to Expect in Long Term Alcohol Rehab? 

A long term drug and alcohol rehab facility offers intensive and structured treatments for substance abuse.

The programmes aim to help the people struggling with addiction sustain abstinence and reclaim their sobriety at the end of the treatment. 

Rehab centres categorise their treatment programmes into three main stages: 

  1. Medically assisted detoxification (detox) 
  2. Rehabilitation therapy 
  3. Aftercare support 

Most treatment facilities either have an inpatient or an outpatient facility. Generally, outpatient facilities are short term and consist mostly of therapeutic communities that help the individual maintain sobriety. 

On the other hand, inpatient treatment can accommodate the needs of the person for a longer-term drug or alcohol rehab. 

When a person enrols in the programme, they go through a closely monitored detox. Next, they go for intensive substance abuse therapy and aftercare planning.

During the 6 to 12 months that the person is in treatment, they get to engage in a therapeutic community.

This option is mostly tailored for demographic groups such as mothers, including pregnant women, adolescents, and teens. 

The treatment process starts with detox. This phase entails intensive supportive care and supervision as the individual experience’s withdrawal from alcohol use.

Generally, detox from alcohol use takes several days. It may take longer if the person has any pre-existing physical or mental health conditions. 

Rehabilitation therapy often includes a variety of therapeutic techniques such as: 

Group therapy 

Group therapy is based on the fact that human beings have a natural desire to congregate.

Most addicts benefit from group therapy because it helps them witness the recovery of others. Being in a group also motivates them in the recovery process. 

Cognitive behavioural therapy 

CBT is one of the most effective behavioural therapies. It aims to help a person identify situations that put them at risk of relapse.

After that, it helps them develop the coping skills that they'll use to overcome relapse in the recovery process. 

Multidimensional family therapy 

Multidimensional family therapy (MDFT) is a treatment program designed for adolescents with drug or alcohol abuse problems.

This alcoholism treatment option covers every core area of influence, including family members, friends, community, and substance use adolescents. 

MDFT involves therapy sessions that include the individual and their loved ones.

This treatment process aims to help young people remain sober by reducing harmful behaviours while encouraging positive, healthy behaviours. 

Each member of the addicted person's family is also encouraged to participate in the 12 step programme and group therapy. 

Motivational interviewing 

This drug and alcohol treatment process aim to motivate an individual to change. This process stands out because its non-confrontational and non-judgmental in its approach to help the individual in recovery. 

The techniques learned in motivational interviewing increase an individual's awareness of the side effects of substance abuse and what can be gained by changing behaviour towards these substances. 

Contingency management

Contingency management encourages the individual towards positive behaviours such as managing their own sobriety or participating in assigned tasks.

This can be done by rewarding positive behaviours using tangible rewards such as getting movie passes or snacks. 

There are many substance abuse treatment approaches, such as behavioural treatment facilities, medication, and long term follow up options to prevent relapse.

Many drug rehab centres also offer additional treatment services to effectively treat drug use disorders and other co-occurring conditions. 

Most providers offer long term programmes that emulate a real community. Once the rehab process is completed, the individuals get more freedom inside the rehab centre.

The treatment centre may offer to place the patient in transitional housing before releasing them to the real world. Most treatment centres that cater to adolescents also offer community high schools and colleges. 

Some treatment centres allow their patients to hold jobs inside the facility to aid in their continuing recovery. There are chores and tasks designed to impart life skills that will help the individual.

There are also outdoor activities and outreach programmes. Individuals may participate in sports plus other skills training. 

Rehab centres offer various services depending on the type (you can go for basic or luxury rehab).  

Luxury alcohol and drug rehab can offer services such as: 

  • Private rooms 
  • Yoga sessions 
  • Massage and tai chi sessions.
  • Meditation sessions 

Private rehabs also offer a range of services such as Animal-assisted therapy, music therapy, anger management, plus many more. 

After long term treatment, patients are introduced to support groups that will help them in their sobriety. The most popular programme is Alcoholics Anonymous. 


Alcohol rehab at home 

Alcohol treatment at home is for those who do not want to receive treatment in an inpatient facility for one reason or the other. 

This treatment option allows the individual to receive treatment within the comfort of their homes. The patient can reach out to a treatment provider to help them receive medically assisted detox at home. 

A healthcare professional can visit the individual in their home to supervise the detox process. After that, the person may join support groups or other outpatient services for alcoholism treatment. 

Emergency alcohol rehab 

It is possible to get emergency alcohol or drug rehab. This option is available for patients who urgently need care. Most treatment centres and hospitals accommodate emergency rehab. 

During this process, the individual goes through substance abuse detox. At this phase, a healthcare professional would administer addiction medicine such as Disulfiram or Naltrexone to make the withdrawal process less painful. 

Emergency rehab is suitable for addicts who experience medical or psychological emergencies. 

Low cost alcohol rehab 

Low-cost alcohol rehabilitation offers a convenient way to receive treatment if you're short of funds. 

Low-cost options are available through private clinics and community-based organizations. You can also access them through the NHS.  

Those in the U.S can access low-cost rehab through American Addiction Centres. 

You can get low-cost treatment options for a variety of addictions, including: 

  • Alcohol abuse and addiction 
  • Illicit drug use, e.g., marijuana and heroin 
  • So-called 'legal highs.' 
  • Prescription drugs and OTC medications 
  • Behavioural addictions such as gambling and sex. 

Most of the treatment options provide mental health resources and addiction treatment to help the individual with long term recovery. Therefore, if you are low on funds, you can still access quality treatment. 

If you need long term rehab but are low on funds, most facilities offer flexible payment options. You can reach out to the leading provider, UK Rehab, for more details.

Alternatively, you can reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA's) via phone [3].  


Alcohol addiction is a health problem that affects every aspect of an individual's life. What's worse is that alcohol remains the leading substance abuse, with a limited number of people opting for treatment.

Yet, there are alcohol and drug abuse rehab options that offer long term treatment. 

According to the national institute on drug, long term rehab is the most effective approach towards maintaining sobriety.

Substance abuse treatment in an inpatient facility produces the best outcomes as individuals get time to work on their coping skills. They also get to attend therapy to uncover the underlying factors fuelling their addiction. 

With long term rehab, a patient gets to work on their mental health as in most cases; substance abuse goes hand in hand with mental health problems. 

Long term rehab is more expensive compared to short term. But most rehab centres have flexible payment options. You can find a rehab centre that negotiates coverage with your insurance provider.

Alternatively, there are flexible payment options for those in need of substance abuse treatment but are short on funds.

The substance abuse mental health services administration offers grants to cover for long term rehab treatment.  

You can reach out to a rehab centre of your choice or contact Abbeycare.  

Our rehab representatives work solely to advise those seeking care on the best option for them. You can reach out to them anytime. 

Abbeycare Pricing Bot

Last Updated: January 20, 2023

About the author

Peter Szczepanski

Peter has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. Peter also co-authored the new 6th edition of Drugs In Use by Linda Dodds, writing Chapter 15 on Alcohol Related Liver Disease. Find Peter on Respiratory Academy, Aston University graduates, University of Birmingham, Q, Pharmaceutical Journal, the Dudley Pharmaceutical Committee, Dudley Council, Twitter, and LinkedIn.