If you’ve started researching options for inpatient substance abuse treatment, you might have noticed that a lot of the programs last for 28 days. It seems like a strange number, doesn’t it? Did someone just decide it was a lucky number or were they really into astronomy? (It takes just shy of 28 days for the moon to complete one full orbit around Earth.) Maybe four weeks sounded like a nice, round amount of time since there aren’t the same number of days in every month. Where did this number come from, and is it actually some kind of magic period of time?

To begin with, 28 days is no more scientifically proven to treat addiction than 7 is proven to be a lucky number. It’s not the amount of time it takes for cravings to disappear or the brain to reset itself. There were no studies conducted that confirmed 28 days was a median time for recovery. The short answer is that it’s the amount of time a lot of insurance companies decided they were willing to pay for, so treatment centers go along with it to keep patients from bailing early.

The number originally came from the Air Force, believe it or not. 28 days was the amount of time a service member could be away from his duties before getting reassigned. This model was adopted by the civilian population, and insurance companies decided it was a good enough number for a cutoff.

Experts say that 90 days is actually the ideal amount of time for an inpatient treatment program, and sometimes an even longer stay might be required. Like any other chronic condition, however, remission – or sobriety, in this case – can wax and wane. 28 days might be long enough for some people, and a week might be sufficient for others (although that’s rare).

What do you do if you need more than 28 days to feel secure in your recovery? There’s always the possibility you can get a doctor to convince your insurance company that it’s a medical necessity that you stay longer, although that’s a bit of a long shot. The treatment facility may offer payment plans, and you could look into setting one up for an extended stay. If nothing else, you try crowdsourcing or taking out a personal loan to pay for it. It might get expensive, but consider the money you’ll save in the long run, both from not purchasing drugs regularly and from avoiding all the future medical problems substance abuse can cause. It’s estimated that about half of all people who get sober eventually relapse, and if staying in treatment longer can help you avoid becoming part of this statistic, it’s worth it.

If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.



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