How long do alcohol treatment centers make you stay? First of all, a treatment center cannot legally force you to do anything, and none would try. If you’re not receptive to the program, you’re wasting their time, your time and your money. You can leave at any time. They’re not police, and they cannot physically detain you. This is true even if you’re there under a court mandate. You can still leave. You will face severe legal consequences later if you do this, but you can leave. Other than trying to talk you out of it, the facility can do nothing but let you leave. They will, however, notify the police or your probation officer immediately.
How Long does Alcohol Rehab Last?
That said, treatment centers do recommend a timeframe for your stay. This will be done on a case-by-case basis and will depend on many factors, including the level of your addiction and also how long you’ve been abusing alcohol. Your length of stay will also partly depend on whether you’ve been through detox already or not. If you’re there for both detox and rehab (assuming the facility offers both onsite) then your stay will obviously be somewhat longer.
Detox and Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol detox is dangerous. You can get severe seizures and also another severe reaction called delirium tremens or the DTs. DTs typically don’t occur unless someone has been drinking heavily for a long time, but they can potentially happen to anyone withdrawing from alcohol. Symptoms include:
- Hallucinations like seeing bugs under your skin
- Chest pain
- High blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat
- Nausea and vomiting
The DTs can kill. Alcohol detox involves substituting a group of drugs called benzodiazepines for the alcohol your brain cannot function without. Benzodiazepines work similarly in the brain to alcohol. Typically, the benzo used for alcohol withdrawal is diazepam or Valium, mainly because it’s long-acting and maintains steady blood levels very well. The diazepam will then be slowly withdrawn in a way that doesn’t shock the brain or cause severe withdrawal symptoms. If you do experience discomfort, speak up. Staff can add other medications to help. You should not be in any kind of significant pain or distress during this process.
Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT)
After your release from rehab, you may choose to take certain medications to help ease alcohol cravings. You cannot stay on diazepam long term because it is also addictive. You don’t want to substitute one addiction for another. Besides, benzos are just as dangerous as alcohol to withdraw from. Two medications used to help alcoholics stay clean are:
Both of these drugs work in the brain to dampen alcohol cravings, although not in the same way. Naltrexone is an orally active opioid blocker and overdose rescue drug. It’s long-acting as well. For reasons not clearly understood at this time, blocking the brain’s opioid receptors reduces alcohol cravings, even though alcohol does not directly bind to opioid receptors. Naltrexone is not addictive and causes few to no side effects. When used for either alcohol or opioid abuse, it’s typically given as a long-acting injection that blocks the opioid receptors for approximately thirty days.
Acamprosate appears to work by inducing a balance in the brain’s chemistry. It decreases interest in drinking and works well even for long-term alcoholics. It’s not addictive and doesn’t work by causing sickness if you drink like disulfiram or Antabuse does. Antabuse has fallen out of favor anyway, mainly because it’s too harsh and its success depends on the alcoholic taking it regularly. With Antabuse, all the alcoholic has to do is stop taking it, wait awhile and then drink all they want. It’s true of limited value, especially compared to newer options.
At your treatment center, you will also participate in group and individual therapy and other types of evidence-based therapy (meaning it’s been proven to work) like CBT, DBT, Motivational Interviewing, other groups like AA, trauma intervention, and others. If you don’t want to participate in AA, make sure the facility doesn’t require it, or choose another rehab. Once enrolled, you cannot refuse to participate in required activities.
Some rehabs offer luxury accommodations, gourmet cooks on staff, equine and other animal therapy, yoga, meditation and art, music and dance therapy. This is called alternative therapy, and many residents respond to it very well. If you like animals, some rehabs may have therapy cats and dogs living on the premises.
We Can Help
We’re a group of highly trained drug counselors here 24 hours a day. Just call us anytime for treatment and detox referrals in your area. We’re here to help. It’s all we do, and we look forward to helping you. Call 844-903-2111.