Drug and alcohol addiction are lifelong diseases, yet many assume they’re more like bacterial infections, where a prescribed dose of antibiotics will cure the patient. Being an addict is a condition more like having diabetes, which benefits from a thorough understanding of the disease, how to monitor oneself, and learning to cope and live with it for the rest of their life.

A person with a lifelong condition would be monitored by a physician, and treatments may be changed over time, to address any changing needs. If things start to show a downward trend, more intensive treatments may be initiated. For a person with an addiction, the process is very much the same. They will be likely monitored by people in their lives, and informed or confronted when things appear to head toward a downward turn. This situation may call for more intensive measures such as attending more meetings or outpatient counselling. The best and most effective form of treatment though is inpatient rehab

It usually takes a person months or years to become addicted to a substance. It is ambitious at best to think that four weeks will be all that it takes to address everything that caused the addiction in the first place. The main reason that four weeks is a standard length of treatment is because of insurance companies and what they are willing to pay for treatment. It has nothing to do with what is in the best interest of the person involved.

Picking therapies based on what will be paid is not the best way to approach addiction treatment. Research demonstrates that the most intensive forms of treatment (i.e., long term inpatient rehab) will have more people staying sober over the course of their lives.

The longer the length of time in treatment impacts how well a patient does afterwards. While four weeks is better than no treatment at all, three months is preferable. To have some of the best chances of recovery and sobriety, a stay in treatment for 90 days is suggested by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This length of time shows some of the best results in terms of treatment outcomes.