Why is Rehab 30 Days?
Is rehab 30 days usually because that’s how long it takes to cure an addiction? No.
Is rehab 30 days because that’s how long it takes to break or form a habit? No.
Is there scientific evidence proving that attending rehab 30 days is a sufficient amount of time for treating addiction? No.
So, why the arbitrary number then? Why does insurance cover residential treatment for 30 days or less? And once someone has completed 30 days of residential treatment, what should they do next? Counseling? Sober living? Outpatient?
Rehab 30 Days: The History
There are a few different explanations for the 28-30 day model. One article cites the Minnesota Model founded by Daniel Anderson that aimed to help alcoholics who were locked up in rooms by putting them to work on a farm for 28 days instead. Others speculate that it takes about a month for an alcoholic to stabilize in sobriety. Some cite that the 28 or 30-day model is not based on medical evidence. Instead, it is based on a model originally used by the U.S. Air Force. If men or women were away from their post for more than 30 days, their position would need to be replaced by someone else. Because the Air Force did not want to replace these positions, they had them go for only 28 days. Later, when the insurance companies began seeing the need for treatment, they looked to the Air Force to see how they were handling it. They saw that they were treating people for 28 days and followed suit. Unfortunately, this model has not been updated since, despite overwhelming evidence that 28 days is not enough time for treatment.
Efficacy of the Model
The model fails at times. Alcoholism and drug addiction are medical diagnoses that require treatment over a longer period of time than just 28 days. These diagnoses are chronic, and treatment should be a lifelong process. More and more people are coming to realize that residential rehabilitation is only the first step in treatment, and aftercare is the critical next step to ensure success. Aftercare can be anything from Intensive Outpatient Program (or IOP), sober living, individual therapy, a combination of all of the above, or other options, depending on a case-by-case basis. The good news is that many insurance companies now cover these aftercare options, usually called PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program), IOP, OP (Outpatient Program). Most insurance companies also cover individual therapy, which is important to utilize as well. It can be helpful to think of the disease of addiction similar to other more well-known diseases such as cancer. The best way to treat cancer is with many treatments over a long period of time. The same is true for addiction. Keep in mind that if the treatments for cancer aren’t working, one doesn’t just stop trying; they keep getting more treatment. We should think of addiction treatment the same way.
Redpoint is here to guide every step of the recovery process and to support the individual and their loved ones along the way. Contact us if you or someone you love needs support. We are here to help.