Most people who start their treatment for addiction wonder how long it will take for them to go back to normal. The addiction experience is different for everyone: people use different drugs, consume different quantities, and have started using harmful substances for different reasons. However, it affects them all the same.
Addicts can lose their jobs, ruin their financial situation, lose their relationships with their loved ones, and ruin their health. But how long does it really take for someone to recover and take over their lives again after being in a residential treatment center? Addiction is considered a disease, and while it’s possible for someone to break the cycle, it’s also very difficult and can take a long time.
Here is what to expect and how long it can take for addiction to be treated.
How Addiction Affects the Brain
Addiction is so hard to quit because it has a significant effect on the brain. Your brain contains billions of neurons that take care of the way information is sent between the body and the brain. When you become addicted to alcohol and drugs, these substances can have a huge impact on your neurons, affecting the way they understand, receive, and send messages.
The brain starts to adapt to this over time, and it will crave the way drugs make you feel. Your body will also build tolerance as time goes by. This means that you will need more and more of the addictive substance to obtain the energy or euphoria it creates.
How Many Days Does It Take to Break an Addiction?
Numerous studies were conducted to discover the amount of time it takes for the body to break an addiction. In the past, people believed that it only takes 21 days to escape addiction. However, this is nothing but a myth. Drugs have a huge impact on our brains, which is what makes recovery so hard.
Instead, some scientific evidence shows that the brain needs around 90 days in order to properly reset and get rid of the drug’s impact. There are positive changes in the prefrontal cortex of the brain when an addict stops using a harmful substance for at least 90 days. This could be why it’s so much easier for someone to stop using drugs following a 90-day rehab compared to a shorter rehab program.
In reality, though, while 90 days can help your brain shake off the influence of addictive substances, addiction can last for the rest of your life. It’s not something that you can just switch off one day. Recovery is a lifetime commitment, as there is always the likelihood of a relapse. In fact, statistics show that between 40% and 60% of addicts relapse, so this high probability is proof that you must continuously focus on recovery if you want to escape addiction.
How Long Does Withdrawal Last?
Alcohol and drug withdrawal is different for everyone. This aspect is influenced by how you used a drug, how long you used it, whether you mixed it with other substances, and how much you took.
Withdrawal is usually broken down into the acute, protracted, and post-acute stages. Because withdrawal can be so intense, it makes it harder for the addict to stay focused on the recovery. Therefore, a relapse is more likely to happen.
Symptoms of Withdrawal
After one begins their recovery process, it’s very likely to go through withdrawal. Symptoms and their intensity may be different for each person, but on average, there are specific effects that one experiences after they decide to quit their addiction.
The severity of the withdrawal symptoms can influence the amount of time it takes for someone to recover. In some cases, it can actually slow down progress, with some people relapsing.
Some of the symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Reduced Tolerance – When someone tries to quit, they will stop using the substance they are addicted to. This can reduce tolerance, which can be very dangerous to individuals who end up relapsing. If you relapse, you can overdose.
- Nervous System Changes – There will be changes to your nervous system, which can cause symptoms such as irregular breathing and heartbeat, as well as blood pressure changes.
- Depression – It’s not out of the ordinary to experience depression when you’re trying to quit addiction. You may be unable to experience pleasure or you may lack motivation. This is especially possible in individuals whose brains have been forced to produce dopamine in very high amounts through drug consumption. When you stop taking the substance, the brain lacks the dopamine it needs to feel happy.
- Rebound Effects – When you are taking a drug in order to control certain symptoms and then you quit that drug, the symptoms are likely to come back in full force. This can cause a lot of discomfort.
What Can Be Done to Treat an Addiction?
Treating one’s addiction can be challenging because after a person’s body gets used to an addictive substance and expects it, there will always be cravings. You cannot cure addiction, but you can treat it. However, the strategies you use will influence how slow or fast this recovery process is.
Here are some things that can make it more likely for someone to successfully quit their addiction:
- Consider Distractions – Temptation will always be there, especially when you have just started your recovery process. So, you must find ways to cope with cravings when they appear and distract yourself.
- Ask for Support – This is a difficult time, and it’s harder to navigate the recovery process when you’re alone. This is why you need a support system from your family and friends.
- Change the Living Environment – Sometimes, certain routines must be changed and some items from your home must be removed to avoid any temptations.
- Think About What You Must Do to Recover – There are different things that help people recover from addiction. So, you must find what could help you quit – for example, getting rid of triggers or finding ways to cope.
Addiction recovery is a lifetime commitment. Some people spend months in recovery, while others need years to escape addiction. The more you work on recovery and the larger your support system is, the higher your chances of getting rid of your addiction become.