28-day and 30-day drug treatment programs are common, but they aren’t ideal. Find out why and what to do to assure your success at rehab.

When it comes to how long to stay in drug rehab, there really is no magic number.

In fact, 28-days is a myth that’s been perpetuated in various circles.

But there are experts who refute the idea that this one size fits all approach to drug rehab is the best way to serve people suffering from addiction.

In fact, treatment effectiveness has been a topic of discussion and debate for quite some time.

Every person is unique, and most addiction experts will agree that the approach to treatment shouldn’t be a cookie cutter.

While studies like the DARP project have brought to light the importance of longer treatment periods for successful outcomes, it’s not always easy to get the treatment you need. According to those findings, the percentage with favorable outcomes improved in direct proportion to the length of time spent in treatment beyond 90 days. But despite this type of research, you’ll still find drug rehab centers advocating 28-day and 30-day programs because that’s what insurance usually covers. Yet most addiction experts will admit this isn’t ideal for optimum success.

History of 30 Days

The history of 30-day rehab programs began with recovery programs in the military during the 1970s. During that time, 30-day programs allowed servicemen and women to undergo rehab without having to be reassigned.  Unfortunately, this model of recovery was adapted to the civilian sector as insurance companies latched on to it by agreeing to pay only for 30 days.  This is a practice that continues today and makes a successful recovery from addiction financially difficult for many people.

The Solution

What do you do when your insurance will only pay for 30 days of rehab?

A good rehab center will work with your insurance to make a strong case for a longer stay.
Getting your insurance company to cover even a 30-day program might be a problem. Some forums have threads with people discussing how various insurance companies will only cover 5 days, or try to deny longer stays. So what should you do when you’re insurance company does that to you?

First, a good rehab center will work with your insurance to make a strong case for a longer stay. By having your doctor work directly with the insurance company to provide justification for your stay, you can often get the services you need to maximize your chances of success.  Additionally, there are always ways to pay privately for your recovery, including payment plans and other options. So make sure you explore those.

If you’d like to talk to someone about what’s covered by your insurance, give us a call  844.314.0932


The cost of 30-day treatment can really add up. Many people ask, is drug treatment worth the cost? We think so, and others agree.

But the cost is the primary reason why insurance companies will fight you over addiction treatment.

According to the DASIS report on alcohol and drug addiction services (okay, it’s admittedly a little dated…), 30-day rehab can cost up to $25k!  That’s no small chunk of change.  Of course, you can reduce that cost by undertaking outpatient treatment rather than inpatient treatment. If any of that’s confusing, check out this cost comparison.

Why 90 Days?

Scientific evidence just doesn’t support the 30-day theory. But it does support 90-day.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) says: Generally, for residential or outpatient treatment, participation for less than 90 days is of limited effectiveness, and treatment lasting significantly longer is recommended for maintaining positive outcomes. For methadone maintenance, 12 months is considered the minimum and some opioid-addicted individuals continue to benefit from methadone maintenance for many years.

Related Topic: How long is inpatient rehab?

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.