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Medically Reviewed

How Long Does it Take to Beat Drug and Alcohol Addiction?

- 4 sections

Medically Reviewed: January 31, 2023

Medical Reviewer

Sahil Talwar, PA-C, MBA


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease that often stems from untreated mental illness or unresolved childhood trauma. In other words, addiction does not develop overnight. It results from long-term emotional pain that eventually causes you to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.

Because addiction doesn’t develop overnight, you also cannot recover from it that quickly. Addiction recovery can be a lengthy process, especially if you have been abusing substances for a long time. So how long does it take to beat addiction? For many people, recovery is an ongoing and lifelong process.

While a large number of addiction rehab programs offer 28 or 30-day rehab programs, most research has proved that people recovering from addiction require more time to fully recover. Being aware of how long it takes to overcome a substance use disorder can help you choose a rehab program that is best suited to your needs.

What Steps Are Involved In Overcoming a Substance Use Disorder?

Recovering from an addiction is a process. When you struggle with addiction, repeated substance abuse affects your mind, body, and soul. Before you can even begin to focus on healing your mind and soul, you have to recover from the physical effects of drug and alcohol addiction.

The steps involved in overcoming an addiction include:

  • Medical Detox – medical professionals will provide you with treatments and medications to help you overcome withdrawal symptoms. Drug detox usually lasts less than 1-2 weeks.
  • Inpatient Rehab – you will reside at a facility where you receive support, education, and evidence-based behavioral therapies to help you address the root causes of your addiction. Inpatient rehab usually lasts 30 days, but can last longer.
  • Aftercare – after inpatient treatment, you will receive aftercare services to help you transition from rehab to independent living. This may include sober living housing programs, alumni support groups, or recovery coaching. Many people participate in aftercare for at least 60-90 days.
  • Recovery – you will continue managing your recovery by engaging in the recovery maintenance techniques and tools you learned during treatment such as attending 12-step meetings and practicing self-care. Continuing to treat your addiction will help ensure that you beat it.

As you can see, there are plenty of steps involved in recovering from addiction. The length of each of these steps will depend on your personal needs. For example, someone who was addicted to alcohol or benzodiazepines may require more time in a detox program than someone who was addicted to meth, as the withdrawal symptoms tend to be more severe.

Factors That May Impact How Long it Takes to Beat an Addiction

Because everyone is different, each person might require different services and treatments to recover from addiction. Certain factors may impact how long it takes a person to overcome an addiction. For example, someone with co-occurring mental health conditions may require more time in a treatment program to recover than someone who only needs treatment for substance abuse.

Other factors that might affect how long it takes to recover from addiction include:

  • How long you have been abusing drugs
  • How severe your substance use disorder is
  • Your withdrawal timeline and whether you develop post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS)
  • The environment you live in, including peer pressure, social influence, support, and your home life
  • The level of dedication you have for your sobriety
  • How much you participate in your therapy sessions
  • How honest and vulnerable you are willing to get with your therapist and yourself
  • Whether or not you can accept help when it is offered to you

If you have a strong support system, are dedicated to recovering, and are willing to open up in therapy, you might be able to recover from addiction relatively quickly. However, some of these things are extremely difficult to do, often causing people to take a little extra time during treatment.

Why Long-Term Rehab Is Better Than a 30-Day Program

Many addiction rehab facilities offer short-term treatment programs lasting only 30 days. While these programs can be convenient for individuals who cannot take more time off of work, experts recommend spending much more time in treatment.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Generally, for residential or outpatient treatment, participation for less than 90 days is of limited effectiveness, and treatment lasting significantly longer is recommended for maintaining positive outcomes.”

Because many people spend years abusing substances, they have multiple years’ worth of unlearning to do. When you suffer from addiction you struggle with unhealthy patterns of thinking and behaviors. Addiction recovery is about changing those thought and behavior patterns into positive ones, therefore preventing you from reaching for drugs and alcohol when you are feeling upset.

Take the First Step Toward Beating Drug Addiction Today

If you are hoping to have a successful and speedy recovery, you should choose a reputable addiction treatment program. Treatment facilities like Charlotte Detox Center can provide you with evidence-based addiction treatment services that provide you with the education, support, and tools you need to successfully recover from addiction.

Detox is the first step in addiction recovery and is extremely important, as withdrawal symptoms can be painful and sometimes life-threatening. When you choose Charlotte Detox Center, you can rest assured that you will be safe, comfortable, and supervised throughout the entire detoxification process. For more information on our reputable drug and alcohol detox program, contact us today.