When people decide to make a commitment to recovering from drug or alcohol abuse, sooner or later they wonder how long it will take to recover from addiction. There’s no simple answer to this question, because the amount of time needed to get better depends on many different factors, including what you were addicted to and for how long. There are other factors that may also come into play, such as whether you are suffering from another mental or physical illness and how supportive your family and friends are.
Some people are able to recover on their own on an outpatient basis by going to meetings or counseling or a combination of both. People who have become physically dependent on alcohol or drugs, particularly over a long period of time, may need to go to an inpatient treatment center.
Whether or not you go to an inpatient treatment facility, there are no quick fixes when it comes to addiction. For most people, recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction is a long, slow process.
What to Expect From Inpatient Treatment
Inpatient treatment for addiction can last for a week or less, and in some cases it can last as long as 90 days, depending on how seriously addiction has impacted your life. The length of time you remain in treatment isn’t as important as how committed you are to sticking with the treatment plan that is laid out for you.
When you are admitted to a treatment facility, addiction professionals will assess your condition and determine how much time you may need to spend in treatment on an inpatient basis. Once you have been assessed, you will go into detoxification. The amount of time needed for detoxification can vary greatly depending on what substances you have been abusing and whether there have been multiple substances.
Learning to Get Sober
After detoxification, the next phase of recovery involves learning to live life sober. You have to build a foundation for recovery. This involves surrounding yourself with other sober people who truly understand the nature of addiction. Some people will spend time in sober housing to help in this process. Others will go home after detoxification and learn to create a support network by going to meetings. At meetings, you will also learn new coping skills for life’s challenges.
Part of recovery involves learning as much as you can about addiction. You will need to become aware of your triggers, the things or people that may set off a sense of craving, and you have to learn what you should do when they occur. Counseling, both individual and family, may be part of your recommended treatment plan.
You have to learn to have fun without using drugs or alcohol. For a while, you may feel like you are on an emotional rollercoaster, and part of recovery is learning to feel your feelings without running away from them.
Many people in recovery feel that after 90 days the most challenging part of sobriety has been conquered. Although strong cravings will have usually subsided by this time, there will be many more lessons on how to live sober.
Ongoing Recovery Length
When people ask the question, “How long does recovery take?” they are probably hoping for a simple answer, the kind of answer you would get from a doctor if you asked how long it would take to recover from a cold or the flu.
Determining the length of time for recovery from addiction is not that simple. For most recovering alcoholics and addicts, remaining vigilant about the nature of the disease is an important part of recovery. You have to remain alert to the possibility of relapse, even after many years of sobriety.
The amount of time it takes to become comfortable in sobriety also varies from one individual to another. Some people will get on the right track quickly while others may struggle for months or even years.
The goal in addiction recovery is to manage the disease, but not necessarily to cure it. Addiction can be compared to chronic illnesses such as diabetes. You can learn to live a full life with this illness, but in most cases recovery will be a lifelong process.