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How Long Does It Take A Person To Overcome Their Addiction?

How long does it take a person to overcome their addiction? We look at how long it can take for someone to overcome the problems of an addiction and the stages of addiction recovery.

Dealing with an addiction

Drug abuse can tear families apart and change a person’s life entirely. However, even though drug abuse impacts are devastating, there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you or your loved one has an addiction problem, you may wonder how long it takes.

Anyone can overcome addiction with the right plan and resources. It is important to understand that recovery is an ongoing process that entails a lot of work and dedication to maintain sobriety.

How long does it take a person to overcome their addiction?
How long does it take a person to overcome their addiction?

Be that as it may, overcoming addiction with the help of a substance abuse treatment program and the right people is possible.

An addiction is a term used to refer to a condition if a person has serious problems with substances like alcohol and drugs. Addiction can also refer to other behaviors, for example, gambling, sex, food, and shopping.

Addictions do not happen overnight. It takes time for someone to become an addict; overcoming it also requires time. People with addiction problems find it hard to control their urges even though the results are ugly.

Therefore, when someone has an addiction, it is important to understand and try to help them instead of being judgmental. Also, most people struggling with addiction do not know they have a problem, and even though they realize that addiction is affecting their life, they cannot help it.

Although psychologists argue that it takes approximately 21 days to overcome an addiction and create a new habit, it is safe to say that three weeks are not enough to break an existing habit.

The time needed to overcome an addiction varies from one person to another depending on factors like:

  • Motivation
  • How long have you been an addict, i.e., used addictive substances or engaged in an addictive behavior
  • Social, emotional, and physical benefits/perks/ rewards you get when you use substances
  • The feelings or thoughts that encourage your addiction

The 5 Stages of Addiction Recovery

1. Precontemplation stage

People with drug use problems are usually defensive at this stage because they are not ready to get help. They will justify their actions because they do not see how it impacts their lives.

Some remain in this phase for many years because of their failed attempts to overcome addiction. However, others are misinformed or spend their time with the wrong people.

2. Contemplation stage

Although the person is ready to accept help, they are not ready yet. Most substance abusers understand the side effects of drug use and the importance of sobriety. However, it is up to family and friends to help them see reason and agree to get help.

3. Preparation stage

At this stage, the person starts accepting help and yearning for sobriety. While some consult a doctor or therapist, others prefer trying to overcome addiction independently.

The person can go for several days without using drugs, but eventually, they start using again.

4. Action stage

When someone reaches the action stage, they clearly accept help and follow laid procedures to get sober.

Here, users seek help from professionals to understand why they use drugs and how they can stop and live productive lives. This stage is characterized by prolonged abstinence.

5. Maintenance stage

The maintenance stage helps prevent addiction recovery relapse. To achieve this, it is crucial to stick to the new hobbies and lifestyle, continue attending support groups, and exercise to distract yourself.

The maintenance stage varies from one person to another. Some people need six months to overcome addiction, while others need two to five years to maintain sobriety. It is important to talk to a professional regularly and avoid bad company to avoid relapsing.

Steps to overcome an addiction

Remember, it is never early or late to seek help if you are struggling with addiction. However, you have to play your part. Here are some tips you can use to overcome addiction:

Acknowledge the problem

You must start by admitting you have a problem. Denial only makes the problem worse, and you cannot seek help. If you think you have an addiction or others are expressing their concerns, consider embarking on the recovery journey.

You can seek help from family, friends, or colleagues at work or school. However, if you are not comfortable seeking help from them, consider talking to a professional, a therapist, or a doctor.

Know when to get help

Some people struggle with addiction for years in vain. Sometimes it is impossible to overcome an addiction without professional help or treatment. If you tried getting sober in the past or overcoming an addiction unsuccessfully, consider getting professional help.

Numerous professionals can help you deal with your addiction if you are willing to seek help. A professional will carefully assess your situation and recommend the right treatment plan.

Hang out with sober people

To overcome an addiction, avoiding spending time with people who use substances or engage in activities that can trigger drug use is crucial. Find new hobbies and spend your time with people who do not use drugs and are trying to help.

Other times, connecting with sober support, for example, addiction self-help groups, helps you interact with people struggling with a similar problem.

If you have an alcohol problem, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a great choice, but if you struggle with narcotics use, find a Narcotics Anonymous self-help group.

Identify your triggers

Although you can stop using drugs for a short period, failure to identify your triggers result in a relapse. It is important to know why you use drugs. Drug use can be triggered by:

  • Stress
  • Environmental factors
  • Mental or physical illness
  • Loneliness
  • Marital or work problems

If you know why you are using drugs, it is easier to deal with the problem. Talking to a therapist or doctor is highly recommended for those who cannot figure out why they are abusing drugs.

Start working out

Exercise is crucial when dealing with addiction because it serves as a distraction. Besides staying fit, working out will help you:

  • Deal with stress and withdrawal symptoms
  • Improve sleep
  • Reduce cravings
  • Improve your cardiovascular system
  • Enhance your self-esteem
  • Become disciplined and follow a routine

Since addiction is a serious and complex condition, you need all the help you can get. In addiction recovery, continued efforts are required to maintain sobriety.

Complacency can cause a relapse making it harder to overcome an addiction in the future. Although the times it takes to overcome an addiction vary, it mainly depends on the steps you take and follow to help maintain sobriety.


We hope this article was able to answer your questions about: How long does it take a person to overcome their addiction?

If you want to discover more information about addiction, follow the link to our other pages on this topic.