How Long Will It Take To Get My Loved One Back? The Length of Addiction Treatment

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When you are watching a loved one become lost in addiction or a psychiatric disorder, you feel desperate to help them. You long to get things back to normal, to the way they used to be. Are you trying to find out how long your loved one may have to undergo treatment? The answer varies.

Keep reading to find out which factors can affect the length of treatment.

How Long Does Treatment Last?

The amount of time required to successfully complete addiction treatment is different for each person. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that any treatment program that runs for less than 90 days is of “limited effectiveness”. Therefore, expect to support your loved one through their addiction recovery for at least three months. In some cases, like with methadone maintenance programs, participation may last up to a year or more.

In general, the first 90 days revolve around developing new coping mechanisms to control cravings, handle life stress, and minimize relapse. Afterwards, your loved one must continually strive to maintain sobriety in addition to successfully transitioning back into their everyday lives.

Finishing Early Isn’t an Option in Addiction Recovery

It’s understandable to want to know when you can expect to see your loved one feeling better. In addiction recovery, however, the “finish line” is not crossed after the program ends. Recovery is a series of overcoming barriers and rebuilding that must be customized to suit the individual.

Prepare for at least 90 days of treatment for your loved one; but, know that they will need your love and encouragement even after they leave the treatment setting. Recovery is a lifelong process.

Factors Affecting Treatment Duration

While most successful programs last no less than three months, other factor can extend the amount of time needed for treatment.

Comorbid Disorders

The presence of any comorbid disorders such as depression or schizophrenia can vastly affect your loved one’s treatment outcomes. According to research from NIDA, comorbidity is quite common with substance abuse disorders.

6 out of every 10 addicts also suffer from a mental illness (NIDA, 2007). Ensure that your family member is assessed for a psychiatric disorder, so that he or she can get appropriate treatment if needed.

Family Treatment

Addiction affects whole families. Therefore, adequate treatment often involves healing the individual and the relationships with other family members like spouses, children, or parents. An individual who suffers from substance abuse has complex variables influencing the patterns of abuse.

Sometimes, family members negatively impact the addict by enabling maladaptive behaviors. In order for treatment to be successful, your entire family must work together to discontinue unhelpful behavior patterns and provide a safe, supportive environment for when your loved one returns home.


Needless to say, in most cases addiction treatment is a voluntary process. Change cannot happen without them willing to embrace it. Motivation strongly affects how long treatment lasts. Each individual in recovery is required to give much in terms of time, energy, and old habits so that the seeds of health and well-being are planted and nourished.

Otherwise, the skills taught during treatment do not stick and relapse is highly possible.

The most important thing you can do for your addicted loved one is offer your support. Their road to recovery begins with one small step, which is seeking out a qualified treatment facility. With the professionals at Avalon Malibu, your loved one can get back to normal again.


  1. The principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (Third Edition). National Institute on Drug Abuse. December 2012.
  2. Comorbid drug abuse and mental illness. National Institute on Drug Abuse. June 2007.
  3. Gifford, S. Family involvement is important in substance abuse treatment. PsychCentral. January 2013.

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