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How Long Does It Take to Break an Addiction?

There are many types of addiction, from drug use, such as opioids, to alcohol use that leads to alcohol addiction. Substance abuse disorders are prevalent in the United States, and breaking addiction can be a challenging process.

Even with strong willpower, addiction changes the chemistry in your brain, making it feel like an uphill battle to beat it. Sometimes, regardless of your intentions, addiction recovery can feel impossible — but don’t give up hope.

Know that breaking bad habits and the cycle of addiction is entirely possible and within your reach. Although addiction does not have a cure, it is a chronic health condition that is treatable and manageable with the right treatment plan and support system.

But how long does it take to break an addiction?

How Long Does It Take To Break Addiction?

Many people will tell you that it takes 21 days to break an addiction, but this is actually a fallacy. It can take 21 days to break an ordinary habit or to start a new one successfully. However, addiction has an emotional and physical dependence that requires more commitment and time than three weeks.

A more realistic timeline to break an addiction is 90 days. This amount of time helps to let the mind and body begin to heal, and the right treatment program can assist in developing coping strategies.

Remember that 90 days is the average amount of time it takes to break an addiction, but some people require a longer recovery cycle in this initial stage. Once you break the habits associated with your addiction, recovery is a lifelong process that requires commitment and ongoing support.

Breaking the cycle of addiction is within your reach, but you must have the right support system and a treatment plan in place.

How Do I Break the Cycle of Addiction?

Did you know that approximately one-half of our daily actions are created through repetition? The habits that caused the addiction can be stopped. Part of the recovery process involves starting and repeating new, healthy habits.

Addictive behaviors are, well, addictive. Replacing bad habits associated with addiction enhances your well-being. Breaking the addiction cycle is possible. You’ve got this!

Here are some tips for breaking the cycle of addiction:

  • First, identify and acknowledge the problem. Say it out loud. This makes it real.

  • Find a support network. This can be a combination of loved ones, family, and a sober community. Most importantly, form a circle of trust.

  • Consider therapy to learn the root cause of your addiction.

  • Review options and seek addiction treatment.

  • Consider in-person meetings, such as AA.

  • Join a sobriety app, such as Sober Sidekick.

  • Start new healthy habits, like getting regular physical exercise.

This is just a guide for tips to break the addiction cycle. Finding healthy habits or new hobbies that resonate with you may take some experimenting.

Don’t be afraid to try new things. You may need behavioral therapy or a specific treatment facility for some substance abuse disorders, such as a serious drug addiction. But how do you know which treatment plan is best?

What Treatment Plan Is Best for You?

Addiction treatment is a very personal decision, and deciding the best treatment plan involves careful consideration. There are many options for addiction treatment programs, and sometimes finding the right treatment facility is a matter of which one you can get into first.

It’s a good idea to consult your healthcare provider to let them know your intentions to treat your substance use disorder (SUD). In some cases, they may need to provide you with a referral and can help you decide which treatment plan is appropriate.

There are many different treatment options and support groups to consider:

  • Intensive outpatient programs

  • Inpatient recovery programs

  • Treatment centers for detox

  • AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)

  • Sober Sidekick App

As you navigate which substance abuse treatment plan is best for you, know that withdrawal symptoms can be a lot to deal with, and some people require professional treatment as they go through the withdrawal stage of addiction.

Don’t try to go through addiction recovery or withdrawal alone — seek out support!


Signs of withdrawal can appear immediately, depending on the frequency of use and the severity of the addiction. Withdrawal symptoms can occur within hours of stopping the use of drugs or alcohol or can be more delayed, occuring within a few days.

Detoxification may be necessary for heavy and sustained substance abuse, and is best overseen by a professional inpatient treatment facility. You may need to seek hospitalization for severe addiction, as a severe withdrawal from drugs or alcohol can be dangerous. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider to know your options for professional care.

Potential Causes of Relapse

The journey to sobriety is never the same for two people, and unfortunately, relapse is usually part of the process during recovery. Relapse is so common during addiction recovery that studies show approximately 40 to 60 percent of people relapse at some point throughout the process.

There are many causes of relapse, and drug and alcohol abuse can cause a physical dependence on substances, making them hard to walk away from and easy to pick back up under the right set of circumstances.

Cravings and Triggers

Cravings play a role in relapse, and triggers can catch you off guard and throw you back into a relapse in an instant. It’s good to be confident about your sobriety and your new sober lifestyle, but be cautious about being over-confident.

Relapse can affect people who have been sober for many years and even decades. What kinds of triggers can cause a relapse?

Social Influence From Peers

Your social circle matters when it comes to alcohol abuse or drug use. One study showed a higher risk for substance abuse when there was heavy use within the social network.

Be cautious about who you spend time with during addiction recovery. Peer pressure is powerful, and hanging out with people who use is a bad idea. This is especially true when it comes to the high risk of relapse.


Sometimes when a person chooses a sober life, they find themselves feeling isolated from their previous social circle. Because alcohol can be involved in many social events, it can be difficult to resist temptation after stopping drinking or the use of drugs.

Consider joining a sober community to avoid feelings of isolation. Sober Sidekick is a sober app that provides 24/7 support on-demand. We’ll dive into more details about the Sober Sidekick app when we discuss treatment programs and support.

Old Hangouts

After treatment, some recovering addicts feel comfortable going to the places where they previously engaged in substance abuse. This can be a local bar, someone’s house, or any place where imbibing took place that eventually caused an addiction.

Entering into an old hangout can be triggering during the addiction recovery process, and it’s advised to steer clear of any of these places to resist temptation. We’ve covered some common reasons that cause relapse from addiction.

Let’s cover a few strategies for preventing relapse in the first place.

Relapse Prevention With Addiction

  • Get enough sleep. Sleep allows your body to rejuvenate and lets your mind rest

  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet to give your body nutrients to heal

  • Get daily exercise

  • Start new hobbies

  • Practice mindfulness through meditation, deep breathing, or yoga

  • Avoid triggers – this can be people, places, or things

  • Establish a support system, and keep your support circle close

  • Use a sobriety counter to track progress

  • Celebrate milestones along the recovery journey

  • Forgive yourself for past mistakes

  • Practice acts of self-care and create rituals

  • Be self-aware of emotions and work on managing them


Breaking the cycle of addiction can be challenging, and recovering in isolation is a tough road. Don’t suffer alone. Consider how long you’ve been engaging in substance abuse and how severe your addiction is; it’s recommended to consult your healthcare provider to determine a treatment plan.

Whether you opt for inpatient treatment, an outpatient program, AA, or another treatment program, consider joining Sober Sidekick to find immediate support today with a welcoming community of people getting sober together. Download the app today!


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