How Long Does It Take To Break An Addiction?

Addiction affects everyone in a unique way. Addiction can take weeks or years to breaks and many times a lifetime to sustain with new daily practices.

At Profound Treatment, we have helped hundreds of individuals reach long term sobriety and sustained recovery from addiction.

In this article, we will discuss what addiction is, its timeline for recovery, and the best ways to break an addiction. Let’s get started:

What is Addiction?

Drug addiction is not an overnight process. It often takes months or years to develop bad habits such as drug abuse. Addiction is a mental illness originating in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. It involves compulsive behaviors as well as seeking out dangerous substances — even in the light of severe consequences.

This can lead a person to lose their occupation, hobbies, and even relationships with their family members. Even though the person knows substance abuse has a negative effect on their life, they continue to engage in drugs and alcohol abuse.

These substances create an automatic response in the brain by releasing endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine — the “feel good” chemicals. Most people who suffer from addiction find it almost impossible to overcome the harmful habits and maintain sobriety.

Instead, their brain craves more of these substances, reinforcing the exiting habit. Therefore, addiction is a chronic disease that requires professional help. The right professionals can help addicts break their bad habit and replace it with a new habit.


Withdrawal can kick in after only a few hours from the last time someone consumes drugs or alcohol. It happens differently for each person depending on how long they have indulged in their existing habit, and how much they consume.

Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and can be long lasting for some people. Certain individuals face greater danger during the withdrawal period. For example, alcohol detox can be fatal. That is why it is essential to receive proper substance abuse treatment.

How Long Does It Take to Break an Addiction?

Different patients break their addiction at different times, depending on how much their brain and body is dependent on the substance. However, as with any harmful habit, there is an average time that it takes for cravings to subside, but life long repreive from an addiction takes constant diligence and many times starts with a successful addiction treatment program.

How long does it take to break a habit?

Most psychologists agree that it takes at least 3 weeks (21 days) to break a habit. Plastic surgeon and author Maxwell Maltz wrote a a book called Psycho Cybernetics, which was one of the first mentions of this timeline. Others state that it takes atleast 100 days to develop new habits.

Why is it 21 days to break a habit?

The brain needs time to to break the bad habit and create a new habit. It must regain its ability to make proper decisions, a function that occurs in the prefrontal cortex of the brain.

However, a study published from Yale University and another study from University College London suggest that even more time may be required for breaking bad habits. According to these experts, 90 – 260 days of maintaining sobriety by undergoing addiction treatment may be required in order to form new brain patterns and new behavior.

What were the four stages of addiction?

Life changes often lead to the beginning of an addiction. However, it does not occur instantly. There are typically four stages of addiction that happen one after another:

  1. Experimentation– The person explores using the drug or alcohol for the first time.
  2. Regular Use – Using the drug at social events, or consistently at home.
  3. Risky Use – Behavior changes from simply using the drug because they like it to feeling like they need it in their life. This is despite negative consequences.
  4. Addiction / Dependency – Someone becomes an addict when they must have the substance in their life, usually daily. Their new reality feels like it will crumble if they do not feed their brain and body with the substance.


The timeline for drug abuse recovery will vary for each person. The research shows that at least 21 days to 260 days is needed depending on the severity of the addiction. It will also depend on the patient’s focus and commitment to breaking their bad habits.

In the first few weeks or months, their body will still be healing itself. The first step of rehab is to reset the brain’s version of reality by allowing its receptors to create the “feel good” chemicals necessary to sustain normal behaviors.

During this time, patients should also put themselves in an environment that promotes good mental health, so they can replace their addiction with new habits.

How do I quit a bad habit?

You may be wondering about the most effective ways to rehab while overcoming an addiction. Addiction treatment is the gold standard of recovery, and should be directed by qualified, experienced professionals.

Treatment Programs

The best way for a fast and long-lasting recovery is to enter one of our renowned recovery programs that follow the guidelines of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. We start by helping you through the initial phases of going “cold turkey” when you get off the drug you’re addicted to.

Our recovery programs (also called “rehab”) are catered to each of our patients and the details of their life. You will receive medical care and addiction recovery treatment for the timeline most appropriate for your withdrawal symptoms and life situation. Family therapy is also provided, because addiction treatment affects more than the person suffering from substance abuse.

Relapse Prevention

At Profound Treatment, part of our gold standard process is to help patients rehab in a way that prevents relapses. Through our guided rehab treatment, you will receive therapy to learn the triggers of your addiction and how to avoid them.

Breaking addiction for the long run requires holistic addiction treatment. Both the body and the mind must be ready to change and focus on a healthier habit going forward. Otherwise, many factors could cause someone to relapse.

Impact on Lifestyle

Your old lifestyle is what led you to the need for recovery treatment in the first place. However, remember that your old life was not fulfilling. This is the reason you chose to turn to drugs and alcohol. It was tempting to feel good in the moment while sacrificing your true happiness.

Your new lifestyle should allow you to find pleasure in healthy activities while maintaining sobriety. Your treatment will prepare you with the mental tools to focus on what truly matters and erase negative thoughts that tempt you to start using again.

But no human being is perfect. We all face temptations, and that is why you must make a conscious decision to change your lifestyle, attend support groups, and surround yourself with positive influences for the rest of your life.

Common Addiction Treatment Barriers

People ask us all the time: “how long does it take?” And when we tell them that they need at least 21 days to break an addiction and avoid a relapse, it starts to seem like a real challenge. Thus, the first and biggest barrier to treatment is committing the time necessary for your recovery.

You have to actively engage in interrupting your old thought patterns and understanding the consequences of drug abuse. So the work involved by the patient to break an addiction is another barrier. That’s why Profound Treatment ensures your recovery journey is as comfortable, friendly, and uplifting as possible.

Things to Follow After Breaking Addiction

There is a mantra within addiction recovery that addiction treatment is not the last step. While treatment does bridge the gap between addiction and recovery, addiction lasts a lifetime.

You can fall into old traps such as negative friends who abuse drugs or environments that promote drug use. Someone who has entered recovery from addiction must form new patterns and embrace a new life. Otherwise, a relapse can happen at any moment.

Stay busy with healthy habits and activities that you enjoy. And stay from stress-inducing situations that may lead you to use the substance again. Finally, remind yourself daily that you deserve the best mental, spiritual, and physical health possible.

You can maintain sobriety, and we’re here to help. Just call +1 (310) 929-9546 today.



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