It has become common knowledge that inpatient rehabilitation programs are typically 30 days. This amount of time is generally accepted as effective, but where did this “magic” number come from? The origin of the month long inpatient rehab was not from evidenced based research concluding its effectiveness as is such with most medical and mental health treatments. The 30 days was merely a speculated number believed to be sufficient to cure an individual of their addiction as well as turn the facility around for the next group of patients. As addiction treatment became more prevalent, the 30 days just stuck due to some success and the willingness of insurance companies to pay for that amount of time.

Nevertheless, addiction treatment is a constantly evolving field and research is beginning to demonstrate that the longer the program, the higher the success rate. Currently, many facilities offer the standard 30 day program which continues to be effective for some individuals who pursue this course of treatment. Simultaneously, treatment facilities now offer longer programs ranging anywhere between 30 and 90 days. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggests that for many individuals 90 days is necessary to reduce or stop their drug use and that longer treatment typically results in better outcomes. Research conducted by Colombia University’s National Center of Addiction and Substance abuse concludes that many addiction treatment professionals and facilities for addiction maintain the same principles and foundations for treatment that have existed since the advent of the field and have not kept pace with modern medical advancements providing fuel for the 30 day belief. However, the field of addiction has come a long way since this time as far as understanding addiction as well as the physical, emotional and psychosocial consequences on the individual and their loved ones. Therefore it’s necessary to reexamine the status quo to truly provide treatment which will be sufficient for the needs of the patient.

Accordingly, whether it’s a 30 day program or 90 day program, a fundamental principle of effective treatment as stated by NIDA includes: “no single treatment is appropriate for everyone.” Treatment should be determined based on the individual’s goals and personal characteristics. It is critical that individuals who are ready for treatment are matched with programs and services that will be the most beneficial to them by targeting programs that will meet their individual needs based on their specific situation. Regardless, adequate research into facilities is necessary before making the decision to enter treatment. Matching the individual to the appropriate facility and length of time may assist in increasing the odds for their success.


Colombia University National Center of Addiction and Substance: Addiction Medicine: Closing the Gap between Science and Practice 

NIDA: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide