The standard stay for patients at in-patient addiction treatment programs has historically been 28 to 30 days. Ever wondered how this came about? Unfortunately, the 28 day treatment template is not some magical number based on science or evidence. Rather it was implemented for a number of other reasons, largely based on financial regulations and arbitrary logic. Discover why addiction experts are urging treatment providers and clients to reconsider standards about length of stay.
The Origins of the "28 Day Rehab"
The reasons behind the formulation of the month long treatment go back to the 1970's. During this period the United States Air Force established its first addiction treatment program. When choosing the duration of treatment for members of the Air Force they based their methods on the existing reassignment rules. These rules stated that if individuals were away from treatment for more than 30 days they had to be reassigned. So they selected 28 days as the standard to avoid the arduous reassignment process.
Dr. David Lewis, who in the 1970's helped establish the addiction treatment in the U.S. Air Force, says 30-day stays were scheduled for bureaucratic reasons rather than any scientific or medical evidence.
In the following years, as addiction treatment grew and expanded, other treatment centers adopted the Air Force's standard. Insurance companies drafted their policies and coverage plans to align with the newly founded standard length of stay. This standard has existed for decades, largely unchallenged until recently. Now professionals and researchers are coming forward with evidence and experience that shows we need to re-evaluate the ideal length of stay in inpatient facilities.