90 Day Recovery VS. 6 Month Outpatient Rehab Program

Three months out from rehab is the magic number, right? For a lot of people, three months of sobriety means you’re in the clear and good to go. Not so fast. While 90 days has become synonymous with addiction treatment and success rates for programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), it’s not necessarily an accurate picture of how long someone should be in treatment or how much longer they’ll need after 90 days.

So What’s the Deal With 90 Days?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that most outpatient treatments stop after 90 days are completed because insurance stops paying. That pretty much guarantees that no one who makes it past 30 or 60 days will continue getting treatment beyond that point.

That said, here are some things to consider when deciding on rehab:

The Cost of Treatment

90-day rehab programs tend to be more expensive than outpatient programs. This is because they offer more intensive treatment services. For example, the primary focus of outpatient treatment is recovery management. Meanwhile, inpatient rehab focuses on detoxing and treating co-occurring mental health issues.

The Length of Stay

A 90-day program typically has a longer length of stay than an outpatient program. This means that their clients are more likely to stick with the program for the full duration that they intended. Additionally, if relapse occurs after completing an inpatient rehab program, you will have already invested 3 months into your recovery journey. That said, it can be very discouraging if you complete an entire 3-month program only to relapse shortly afterward.

Conversely, most 6-month programs have shorter lengths of stay, so they are less intensive than 90-day programs. However, outpatient programs offer more flexibility in that you can continue to attend them even after completing the program.

The Level of Care

90-day rehab programs offer a higher level of care than outpatient programs. This is because they provide around-the-clock supervision and support. In contrast, outpatient programs are less intensive and allow clients to have more independence.

The Availability of Services

Not all services are available in both 90-day and outpatient rehab programs. For example, many 90-day rehabs offer detox services, while very few outpatient rehabs do. On the other hand, outpatient rehabs typically offer more counseling and therapy services than 90-day rehabs.

The Level of Treatment Intensity

90-day rehab programs offer a more intense level of treatment than outpatient rehabs. This is because they provide clients with more support and supervision. In contrast, outpatient rehabs are less intensive and allow clients to have more independence.

There are alternatives to the three-month rule of thumb, but they come with their own pitfalls. Let’s compare what happens when you try for six months and the pros and cons of 90 days:

Six-Month Outpatient: 


The patient has a much better shot at staying sober after treatment than someone who only completed a 30 or 60-day program. They’ve made it well past the standard time frame and need less intensive care than those in rehabs or halfway houses. It’s great for patients who want to take things slow and avoid “falling off” after treatment ends since they’re just getting started on sober living. 


Six months is still not quite long enough to know if the patient will stay sober for life. The risk of relapse after six months is 14 percent, so having a good program that offers relapse prevention matters.

A 90-Day Inpatient: 


Better yet than an outpatient rehab, patients who go into live-in treatment have the chance to start their lives over and address any underlying issues that helped lead to their addiction in the first place. If they’re forced to stay off substances during those three months (even coke and weed), they’ll likely never go back because doing it without drugs or alcohol isn’t fun. 


Nothing’s set in stone after three months; there’s still a good chance the patient could fall back on their addictive behaviors if left alone too soon after rehab. Also, some people can only afford 90 days of rehab, so they can’t prolong their treatment if it’s what their doctor recommends.

So Which Is Better?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best program for someone struggling with addiction will vary depending on their individual needs. 

However, a six-month outpatient program is generally better than a 90-day inpatient program, as it provides a longer window for relapse prevention and allows patients more freedom to continue with their daily lives. 

That said, an inpatient program should always be considered if the sufferer of addiction has relapsed before or has other significant mental health issues that need to be addressed in addition to their addiction.No matter which route you choose, it’s important to remember that addiction is not a lifelong disease, but relapse is always a possibility. However, with the right treatment and support system in place, any sufferer of addiction can overcome their addiction and live happy, healthy lives.

Download this article

Latest Posts

Request a confidential callback

What We Treat

What We Treat

Impact Outpatient Program offers treatment for a variety of addictions and co-ocurring disorders at our Louisville area outpatient drug rehab center.
Addiction Treatment Services In Kentucky



Addiction Treatment Services In Kentucky







BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY (502) 912-1038

Let Impact Outpatient Program help you find your path to lasting recovery from substance abuse right now. Same-Day Admissions Available.