Why is Rehab 28 Days?
Why is Rehab 28 days?
You may have wondered why rehab programs seem to always be set for 28 days and although it is the norm for most rehab centers to offer 28-day programs, it isn’t exactly a magic number. A four-week stay in rehab is not magic timeframe that completely changes the way a person thinks and lives.
Studies on rehab and recovery have found that shorter stays in centers are catalysts to relapses1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1852519/. The shorter the stay in rehab, the higher the risk is that a person will dive back into a world of misuse.
An extended period of 28 days – or preferably more – offers an individual the chance to identify underlying issues that cause addiction. Co-occurring disorders such as depression and anxiety can also be discovered and treated with a longer stay.
A week-long stay is just not enough to complete detox2https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states/types-treatment-programs, therapy and resolve the underlying issues that a person has when entering rehab. For example some of the best rehabs in the World such as Physis recommend treatment episodes of between between six and fifty-two weeks.
Not all clients that enter rehab have the same problems. There is no one size fits all solution to drug and alcohol addiction and therefore, having a short rehab stay doesn’t allow an individual to get the help they need for long-term success.
Insurance & 28 day rehab
Insurance companies are the main drivers on the length of rehab a person gets more than studies on addiction. While medical and addiction professionals have their own research on rehab and the length it should be, insurance companies do as well. However, experts in the field of addiction believe insurance companies to be out of touch on what patients need to get better.
The evidence presented by insurance companies doesn’t see long-term treatment as necessary. Patients who enter rehab for a 28-day stay often find the experience to be draining and difficult yet this is all they can get from their insurance company.
On day 28 of rehab, an individual’s insurance stops paying for treatment though some will run until 30 days depending on the patient’s insurance plan. Since the 1970s when the first addiction program was established for the United States Air Force, insurance companies have balked at drug and alcohol rehab programs that last for more than 28 to 30 days.
The original 28 day rehab
So, why did the US Air Force only offer a 28-day rehab stay? Air Force members could only be away from duty for a maximum of four weeks or they would be reassigned so a 28-day program allowed Air Force personnel to gain treatment and return to their work without being reassigned.
Other programs saw the way in which the US Air Force ran rehab and adopted it. Despite research claiming longer rehab stays would result in fewer drug and alcohol relapses, insurance companies have not changed suit.
Insurance companies are guilty of preventing individuals from getting the rehab care they need by creating a complex web of guidelines that are impossible to meet. Unfortunately this is the case even after extensive research has shown that for every US dollar spent on rehab care saves $7 in additional healthcare and prison costs.3https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/vision-future/time-for-a-change
As nearly all rehab centers around the world state, recovery is not a one size fits all situation. Unfortunately, insurance companies do not understand the complexities of addiction and that is why 28-days remains the norm.
References for Why is Rehab 28 Days?
1. Alcoholics Anonymous . Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women have Recovered from Alcoholism. 3rd Ed. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc.; NY: 19391976. [Google Scholar]
3. McKay JR, Merikle E, Mulvaney FD, Weiss RV, Kopenhaver JM. Factors accounting for cocaine use two years following initiation of continuing care. Addiction. 2001;96(2):213–225. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]