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How Long Does it Take to Beat Drug Addiction?

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how long does it take to beat drug addiction

Addiction doesn’t happen overnight. For most people, addiction develops as the result of an untreated mental or behavioral health condition as well as repetitive drug or alcohol abuse. On the flip side, overcoming addiction doesn’t happen overnight, either. Recovery is an ongoing, life-long process for many individuals.

A longstanding belief is that it takes 21 days to break a habit. If this were true when it comes to addiction, people could attend a 28-day rehab program and leave completely cured. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that most addicted individuals need at least three months in treatment to significantly reduce or stop their drug use–and that better outcomes are associated with longer treatment stays.[1]

Moreover, a 2012 study debunks the saying that it takes 21 days to break a habit. The study revealed that changes in habit or behavior can take up to 10 weeks, or about two and a half months, to take root.[2] So, exactly how long is it going to take for you to beat drug addiction?

Unfortunately, the answer is not black and white.

What Steps Are Involved in Beating Drug Addiction?

Addiction recovery is a process. It usually begins with detox and continues with various treatments and interventions. When you decide to seek help for your addiction, you will likely go through the following steps:

  • Medical detox – You detox in a medical setting under the close supervision of medical professionals who ensure your comfort and safety.
  • Rehab – You participate in inpatient or outpatient rehab to address the cause of your addiction and give you the tools you need to stay sober.
  • Aftercare – You slowly transition away from rehab by participating in aftercare services such as sober living, alumni programs, or recovery coaching.
  • Recovery – You continue managing your addiction by attending 12-Step meetings or other recovery support groups, practicing self-care, and using the coping skills you learned in rehab

Each of these steps can vary in duration depending on your specific needs and your changing situation. The truth is, some people show progress faster than others–but that’s okay. The most important thing is that you don’t give up and continue working towards your recovery.

Factors That Influence How Long It Takes to Beat the Cycle of Addiction

No two individuals come to treatment with the same exact circumstances. Plus, everyone has their own unique needs when it comes to rehabilitation. A few factors that can influence how long it takes you to heal from addiction include:

  • How long you have struggled with addiction and the severity of your addiction
  • How long symptoms of withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) last
  • Your medical and psychiatric history as well as whether or not you struggle with a co-occurring mental health condition
  • Your environment, including peer pressure, social influences, structure, support, and home life
  • The level of dedication and commitment you have to treatment and your sobriety
  • How much you participate in your therapy sessions
  • How honest you are able to get with yourself, your therapist, and your support group
  • Whether or not you are willing to accept help when it is offered to you

Why 21 Days Isn’t Long Enough to Beat Drug Addiction

After 21 days of being sober, your body will likely have adjusted to sobriety. You may not be feeling physically ill with withdrawal symptoms anymore, but your brain is still adjusting to being sober.

You see, addiction affects various areas of the brain that are responsible for cognition, decision-making, pleasure, and impulsivity. Addiction affects these brain regions by changing the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters that make you feel “normal.” When you stop using drugs and alcohol, your brain takes time to heal, and this healing process can last several months or even years.[3]

Rushing the healing process can result in relapse or suffering. Your recovery is your life, so it’s important to dedicate all the time that is needed to your personal healing.

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Get The Care You Need and Deserve

Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is a leader in the addiction treatment field, with proven success in facilitating long-term recovery. Our team of top clinical & medical experts specializes in treating addiction coupled with mental illness, ensuring that each person receives individualized care. Call us – we’re available 24/day, 7 days/week.

(781) 622-9190

Ways to Speed Up the Addiction Recovery Process

The good news is there are things you can do to promote healing in your brain. Evidence-based practices that encourage healing from addiction include:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Meditation
  • Sustained abstinence (relapsing can reverse the progress that is made)
  • Healthy diet and exercise
  • Regular sleep schedule

Overall, the best way to beat drug addiction is to listen to your therapist’s advice, rely on your support group for guidance, and do everything in your power to avoid picking up another drink or drug.

Start Healing From Addiction Today

Rather than focusing on how long it takes to beat drug addiction, it’s more helpful to focus on what things you need to do to stay sober. Here at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment, our accredited drug and alcohol rehab center can help you identify the root causes of your addiction, heal from your past, and embrace a happier, healthier future.

Don’t delay getting help any longer. Call now to start your recovery.

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Medically Reviewed By

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC Clinical Director
Learn about Inessa Maloney

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC has been dedicated to the mental health and substance abuse field for a decade, providing her expertise to guarantee quality and accuracy.

  • Specializes in outpatient services with a focus on substance abuse
  • Expertise in reality-based therapy, CBT/DBT, and motivational interviewing
  • Holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling
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