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28- vs. 60- vs. 90-Day Treatment Programs: Which Is Better?

Peter Manza, PhD profile image
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD • Updated Mar 22, 2024 • 4 cited sources

Addiction treatment is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Rehab programs come in many different lengths, with 28-day, 60-day, and 90-day long programs all being common and serving an important niche in medicine. 

Understanding Different Addiction Treatment Programs

Treatment programs are typically designed to last a certain amount of weeks or months. A 28-day addiction program lasts four weeks, a 60-day program lasts two months, and a 90-day addiction treatment program lasts three months. While the specifics of a program will vary, they are often broken up into stages. Some elements of treatment might be consistent throughout the program, but others will change over time.

Here’s what to expect: 

28-Day Treatment Programs

A 28-day addiction treatment program is relatively short compared to the other types of treatment. One major benefit of this type of rehab is it is less of a major time commitment. By nature of being a shorter program, it will generally be significantly less expensive than longer programs. For individuals dealing with more severe substance use disorders (SUD), 28 days may not be a long enough period of receiving focused care to maintain long-term drug abstinence.

Individuals with mild or moderate SUDs are most likely to benefit from treatment programs of this length. Over the course of the program, they’ll be taught how to better understand the nature of their SUD and resist drug misuse. It’s also enough time to get them set up with the type of ongoing care that might most benefit them, such as finding them an addiction treatment professional to see weekly or monthly, as well as getting any forms of Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) prescribed. 

60-Day Treatment Programs

A 60-day addiction treatment program is a mid-length program, more than twice as long as a 28-day program. This provides significantly more time for a person to benefit from focused addiction care, allowing for a slower progression toward the more or less full autonomy that is generally the goal of addiction care. While these programs are generally a much bigger commitment and expense than 28-day programs, the extra time can be beneficial to individuals who won’t be easily helped in that shorter time frame. 

These programs are likely to most benefit individuals with moderate to severe SUDs. They might be especially helpful to people who have relapsed in the past and are concerned the standard 28-day approach won’t be enough to help them prepare for extended abstinence again. 

90-Day Treatment Programs

A 90-day treatment program is obviously a significant commitment. A three-month recovery program can be expensive and means about a quarter of your year is going to be dedicated to specifically combatting your SUD. 

The benefits of this extra time are that it’s a long window to reorganize your life with the help of addiction treatment experts, building skills and implementing lifestyle changes to help regain control over your drug misuse and maintain drug abstinence. It’s often specifically aimed at people who are in a serious crisis or who have repeatedly tried less extreme options and then relapsed. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that at least 90 days of care is typically needed to recover from addiction.[4] This doesn’t necessarily mean an inpatient program. Instead, it means that ongoing care at some level is needed for a significant time period. 

Which Treatment Program Is Right for You?

Realistically, the best way to decide between 28-, 60- and 90-day programs is to speak with a professional. They can discuss your individual needs, the severity of your SUD and any personal circumstances that might impact the best treatment for you. Your conversation with the treatment professional can and should involve discussing practical concerns less directly related to your SUD, such as how much time you can realistically commit to treatment and what level of care you can realistically afford. 

The following are some basic checklists that can help you see whether a particular program length might be best for you:

28-Day Programs

● Do you think you would benefit from addiction treatment?

● Is your SUD mild to moderate in severity?

● Is your ability to commit in certain terms of time or cost limited?

60-Day Programs

● Have you already attempted a 28-day program in the past or feel that it isn’t enough time to get treated?

● Is your SUD moderate or worse, significantly impacting many elements of your life?

● Do you feel your SUD might presently be a genuine danger to your life or is actively ruining relationships that are important to you?

90-Day Programs

● Has drug misuse and SUD severely impacted your life and/or gotten you hospitalized?

● Have you attempted treatment in the past and found it ineffective or relapsed multiple times?

● Can you commit the significant resources required to enter into a long treatment program?

Insurance Coverage & Cost

The unfortunate reality of American healthcare is that the best treatment for a person from an ideal perspective doesn’t always align with what they can practically afford. There is undeniably a financial element to how many people choose their treatment. It’s important to understand your insurance and what level of treatment it’s likely to cover.

Insurance coverage may vary for 28-, 60- and 90-day programs. As a general rule, it is harder to get coverage for longer and more expensive treatments. The specifics of your coverage can vary significantly depending on your plan and where you live. 

The government’s Health Insurance Marketplace can be a good way to look for plans. Every plan on the Marketplace must include coverage for substance misuse treatment. Mental health and substance misuse benefits must be treated similarly to medical and surgical benefits.[3]

Even so, coverage for long-term inpatient treatment isn’t guaranteed. To maximize your chance of getting your treatment covered, read the details of your plan and call your insurer if any clarification is needed. You will likely need to demonstrate that the care is considered essential by a medical professional. Talk to an addiction treatment expert about this, and get them to provide your insurer with any proof of their professional opinions on your needs. 

The Right Treatment Length for You

It’s important to make a well-informed decision regarding treatment duration. It can be tempting to aim for a short treatment program, and for some people, this may be all you need to start a successful recovery journey. However, you should avoid making this decision on your own. 

Talk to a professional about what is likely to work best for you, asking any questions you might have. This way, you can start (or continue) your recovery journey in the best way possible. While a longer treatment time period can feel daunting, advances in online MAT and other telehealth addiction treatment programs make a longer duration of treatment more feasible for many.[4]

It’s easy to be discouraged when struggling with SUD, especially if you’ve tried to seek treatment in the past and then relapsed. Recovery is challenging and a treatment program of any length isn’t likely to make it easy, but it will make it easier (and much safer) than attempting to quit without help.

Recovery programs can allow you to finally regain control over your life. No matter how many times you’ve relapsed, long-term recovery is possible. If you’re struggling, we hope you will talk to an expert about the ideal treatment program for you, so you can start regaining control over your life and find your way toward a better tomorrow.

Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD

Peter Manza, PhD received his BA in Psychology and Biology from the University of Rochester and his PhD in Integrative Neuroscience at Stony Brook University. He is currently working as a research scientist in Washington, DC. His research focuses on the role ... Read More

  1. Mental health and substance abuse health coverage options. Published 2019. 
  2. Dickson-Gomez J, Weeks M, Green D, Boutouis S, Galletly C, Christenson E. Insurance barriers to substance use disorder treatment after passage of mental health and addiction parity laws and the affordable care act: A qualitative analysis. Drug and Alcohol Dependence Reports. 2022;3:100051. 
  3. Beaulieu M, Tremblay J, Baudry C, Pearson J, Bertrand K. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy of the long-term treatment and support of substance use disorders. Social Science & Medicine. 2021;285:114289. 
  4. Mark TL, Treiman K, Padwa H, Henretty K, Tzeng J, Gilbert M. Addiction treatment and telehealth: Review of efficacy and provider insights during the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychiatric Services. 2021;73(5). 

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