How Long Does it Take to Overcome an Addiction?

Overcoming an addiction takes a lot of work, but with the appropriate tools and the right help, it is possible. If you or a loved one are currently dealing with an addiction, you may be wanting to know how long it takes to overcome an addiction.

In order to better answer that question, let’s take a look at what makes addictions so hard to break, and the steps required to overcome an addiction.

Why Are Addictions So Hard to Overcome?

Addictions are incredibly difficult to overcome, and that’s because they involve a complex combination of psychological factors and physical dependencies.

There are many factors that make addictions difficult to overcome, but here are a few of the big ones.

1. Addiction’s Effect on the brain 

Overcoming an addiction is not merely a matter of will power – addiction actually alters the brain.

Addictive substances and behaviors release an excess of dopamine, which causes brain receptors to get overloaded.

In response, the brain either decreases dopamine production or eliminates dopamine receptors. This causes the person to use more and more of the addictive substance in order to feel the same effect (also known as tolerance).

2. Unaddressed Mental Health Conditions

When a person experiences mental health conditions that contribute to their addiction (such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, etc.), it is essential to treat these underlying conditions in order to successfully overcome an addiction.

The problem with addiction is that it makes mental health conditions worse, which in turn creates a greater desire to use the addictive substance, which worsens mental health, and the cycle goes on and on.

Until these underlying conditions are properly addressed and treated, overcoming an addiction is unlikely.

3. Withdrawal symptoms 

When a person tries to quit an addictive substance or behavior, they will likely experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

These symptoms may include headaches, fever, stomach pain, insomnia, or even more severe symptoms such as shakes and seizures.

In many cases, people return to their addiction in order to alleviate their withdrawal symptoms, rather than giving the withdrawal symptoms time to subside.

Signs of Addiction

Certain addictions are more prevalent than others. Drug and alcohol addiction are much more detectable than a gambling addiction, since there are physical signs. However, it is also possible for someone to be a functioning alcoholic, which means that they are better at hiding their alcohol addiction.

It’s important to be aware that there are five stages of addiction, and it doesn’t just happen all at once. Some of the key signs of addiction include:

  • Cravings for the substance
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
  • Neglecting personal responsibilities 
  • Using the substance as a coping mechanism
  • Lying about consumption habits, or getting defensive when questioned
  • Unsuccessful when trying to quit or cut back
  • Weight loss
  • Borrowing or stealing money to support their drug usage

The Difference Between an Addiction and a Bad Habit

Addiction is a disease, while bad habits are simply behaviors that we don’t want to change. With habits, we still have some control over them, but addictions are more compulsive.

We also don’t build up a tolerance to a bad habit in the same way, or experience withdrawal symptoms when we stop. People are usually aware of their bad habits, but are often in denial about an addiction.

Ultimately, bad habits are much easier to break, and don’t alter the brain in the way that addiction does.


How Long Does Drug Detox Take?

Everyone is different and every situation is different, which means that the time it takes to detox from a drug will depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • The type of substance
  • How long the person has been using the substance
  • How frequently the person uses the substance
  • How the substance was consumed
  • Demographics (age, sex, weight, medical history)

In most cases, it takes a couple of days to a week to get a drug completely out of your system. There may be some mild lingering withdrawal symptoms for a couple weeks after the detox process is complete.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

6-12 hours after the last drink – Mild withdrawal symptoms will start to appear, such as headache, insomnia, poor appetite, or an upset stomach.

24-72 hours after the last drink – The alcohol withdrawal symptoms peak. If delirium tremens occur, it will happen around the 48-72 hour mark, and can last for a few days.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms typically wear off by the fifth day, but in extreme cases, it can last longer.

It’s important to note that alcohol withdrawal is one of the most dangerous types of withdrawal, and therefore should always be done under medical supervision to ensure the safety of the client.

Steps to Overcoming an Addiction

Addictions can be a hard thing to overcome, but with these steps, it is absolutely possible.

  1. Have a support system in place – Get a sponsor, or have family or friends that you can call to support you. There are also many support groups available to those in recovery (both online and in person). 
  2. Get professional help – You are much more likely to overcome an addiction if you get professional help. There are layers to addiction and overcoming it that only professionals can really guide you through. 
  3. Get to the root cause of the addiction – An addiction doesn’t just form out of thin air. We are triggered to indulge in substances  
  4. Practice healthy coping mechanisms – Overcoming an addiction is not easy. It takes a lot of internal work, and dedication to adopting healthy habits and practicing healthy coping mechanisms for when triggers arise. 

Addiction Treatment Process

If you’re considering addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, you may be wondering, “What happens in addiction treatment?”

Although many treatment centers have different processes, this is the process that Paramount Recovery Center follows. 

1. Detox

For our clients who are actively using drugs or alcohol when they arrive at our treatment center, they will need to undergo a detox process.

Detox takes place in a medically-supervised vicinity, which ensures the constant health and safety of our clients as they go through withdrawal. 

Detox typically takes a few days, but can take up to two weeks, depending on the client’s condition. 

2. Inpatient Care

Once the substances have successfully been removed from the client’s body, and they are in a stable condition, the client can move into the inpatient portion of treatment. 

This will require the client to live at the facility, while partaking in various methods of treatment, which may include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Case management
  • Peer support 

It may also include holistic approaches, such as yoga and meditation, exercise, diet planning, and more. 

3. Outpatient Treatment With Sober Living

Navigating life after inpatient treatment can feel overwhelming. You may be wondering, “What happens next?”

After the client has successfully completed the inpatient portion of treatment (whether at our facility or another facility), they may continue coming to treatment on an outpatient basis. This typically consists of attending individual or group therapy a couple times a week.

At Paramount, we also offer a sober living program, which allows clients to live at our facility, and continue in more structured treatment, where they will have constant access to staff support. 

Get Addiction Support

If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction, it’s time to seek help. At Paramount Recovery Center, we have highly experienced staff who treat drug, alcohol, and gambling addiction in the scenic town of Prescott, Arizona.

Learn more about our men’s addiction treatment program, or speak to an addiction specialist to start getting the help that you deserve.


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