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How Long Does Addiction Recovery Take?

How long does addiction recovery take? The answer is not that simple. Recovery is a lifelong journey. Individuals that go through drug addiction treatment progress at various rates based on many factors. So, there is not a clearly defined length of treatment for everyone. However, research has shown that positive outcomes are dependent on adequate treatment length. 

Types of Addiction Treatment Programs and Timelines

Addiction treatment programs provide a comprehensive approach to recovery. Thereby, addressing the physical, psychological, and social aspects of addiction. It’s essential to seek professional guidance to find the best program suited to individual needs and circumstances. Doing so helps ensure lasting sobriety and improved quality of life. 

So, how long does addiction recovery take? Continue reading to learn about treatment programs and their approximate timelines. 


Drug and alcohol detox is a critical phase of addiction recovery that helps individuals quit using drugs or alcohol. Detoxification takes place in various settings such as hospitals, specialized detox facilities, and inpatient/outpatient treatment centers under close medical supervision. Accordingly, medications may be prescribed to ease withdrawal symptoms. 

Detox is the first step of treatment. However, detox alone is not enough for lasting recovery. Additional therapies and counseling are needed to address the psychological aspects of addiction. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may begin during or following detox.

Alcohol Detox 

The alcohol detox timeline varies for each person based on factors such as the level of alcohol dependence, the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption, overall health, and any previous history of withdrawal. Generally, the alcohol detox timeline follows the following stages:

  • 6 to 12 Hours: Mild withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, restlessness, and tremors.
  • 24 to 48 Hours: More intense symptoms, including increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and confusion.
  • 2 to 4 Days: Withdrawal symptoms start to improve. But some individuals may experience delirium tremens (DTs). DTs are severe and potentially life-threatening symptoms.
  • 5 to 7 Days: The worst of the physical withdrawal symptoms subside. However, some individuals experience lingering symptoms like fatigue, irritability, and sleep disturbances.
  • 1 to 2 Weeks: After the acute withdrawal phase, some individuals may experience longer-lasting psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression.

Drug Detox

The timeline of drug detox varies based on the specific drug, individual level of dependence, method of use, and personal factors. Drug detox can be divided into short-acting and long-acting drugs, each with its general timeline as follows:

Short-Acting Drugs ( Heroin, Opioids, Benzodiazepines):

  • 6 to 12 hours: Withdrawal symptoms may start, including anxiety, restlessness, muscle aches, and cravings.
  • 1 to 3 days: Withdrawal symptoms peak, with intense cravings, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, and irritability.
  • 5 to 7 days: Acute withdrawal symptoms begin to subside, but insomnia and mood swings may persist.

Long-Acting Drugs (Methadone, Suboxone, Barbiturates):

  • 24 to 48 hours or more: Withdrawal symptoms for long-acting drugs may appear due to extended effects in the body.
  • 3 to 5 days or longer: Withdrawal symptoms can be prolonged, with varying intensity among individuals.
  • Up to 2 weeks or more: In some cases, withdrawal symptoms for long-acting drugs can persist for an extended period.

Drug detox can be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. Especially for severe drug dependence. Medically supervised detox is crucial for withdrawal management and ensuring the safety and well-being of the client.

Following detox, a continuum of treatment, including counseling, therapy, and support groups, is necessary to address the psychological aspects of addiction and develop coping skills for maintaining sobriety. Recovery is an ongoing journey, and continued support and treatment play a vital role in overcoming drug addiction.


This 24/7 treatment option allows individuals to stay at the treatment facility and take part in therapy sessions, support groups, and activities. Inpatient residential addiction treatment is a comprehensive program where individuals battling substance abuse live at a recovery facility for a specified duration. Typically, ranging from 30 to 90 days, or even longer if required. 

This immersive environment provides round-the-clock medical supervision and a structured schedule that includes various activities and interventions. The aim is to bring about deep-rooted changes in thoughts, behaviors, and lifestyle, thereby promoting long-lasting recovery. It’s a holistic approach that encompasses detoxification, individual and group counseling, skill-building sessions, and aftercare planning for sustained sobriety.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Participants spend most of their day at the treatment center. PHP provides intensive clinical services such as individual and group counseling, medication management, skill-building activities, and other therapeutic interventions. With treatment sessions lasting several hours each day, PHP provides the support needed to maintain recovery without requiring overnight stays. 

PHP provides a nurturing environment where individuals rebuild their lives and maintain sobriety. It’s an excellent step-down option for individuals who are transitioning back into the community after completing detox or inpatient treatment. On average, a partial hospitalization program lasts anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

These provide a higher level of care than standard outpatient programs, with participants attending multiple therapy and group sessions per week. An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is a balanced, yet adaptable, program geared at enabling people to continue their recovery journey while maintaining crucial commitments such as work, school, or family matters. While the person does not live at the treatment center, they receive considerable support in managing their substance use disorders. 

IOP is a sound option for individuals with home support networks, those who have completed inpatient programs or partial hospitalization programs, or those who do not need medically monitored detox. An IOP aims to equip individuals with the necessary resources to attain and maintain long-term sobriety as they reintegrate into their everyday routines. On average, an intensive outpatient program may last around 8 to 12 weeks.

Outpatient Programs

With this flexible option, individuals attend therapy sessions while still living at home. Outpatient programs deliver a supportive and flexible route to recovery. Instead of requiring an overnight stay at a treatment center, individuals access the necessary care while maintaining their everyday activities. These programs usually span 3-6 months. Treatment consists of weekly or bi-weekly sessions and offers counseling, therapeutic interventions, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT). 

The primary objective is to equip individuals with the essential skills to uphold sobriety and promote a healthier way of living. Perfect for individuals who have finished inpatient or partial hospitalization programs. Or for those who can’t commit to full-time residential care. Outpatient programs provide the opportunity to continue residing at home while gaining the support required to foster enduring changes and secure long-term recovery.


Aftercare for addiction treatment is a comprehensive plan that helps individuals transition from treatment to independent living and sober living. Generally, it includes counseling, individual meetings, 12-step programs, medication management, lifestyle changes such as exercise and nutrition guidance, and support from family and friends. 

Aftercare plans are unique to each individual’s specific needs and should be tailored to their personal goals and recovery plan. While there is no set timeline for aftercare, it is typically recommended to continue engaging in some form of aftercare for at least one year following treatment to increase the chances of sustained sobriety.

How Long Does Addiction Recovery Take?

So, to summarize the question, “How long does addiction recovery take?” In general, for outpatient treatment or residential treatment, participation for less than 3 months has limited effectiveness. Although, treatment lasting longer than 3 months (6 months or greater,) is recommended to maintain a positive outcome. 

For methadone maintenance, a year is considered the minimum, and some opioid-addicted individuals can continue to benefit from ongoing methadone maintenance for many years. In short, good outcomes are contingent on adequate treatment length. It’s always best to consult a professional to determine what would be best.

One of the major problems encountered by treatment programs is treatment dropout. Therefore, motivational techniques that can engage clients will also improve outcomes. A key is to identify addiction as a chronic disease that needs continuing care and monitoring programs can succeed. However, sometimes they will require multiple episodes of treatment.

In addition to traditional addiction treatment programs, there are several other resources available to support individuals in recovery. 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) provide peer support and guidance throughout the recovery process. Other community-based organizations, such as Sober Living Houses, offer sober housing for those transitioning out of treatment or needing additional support during their recovery journey. 

Finally, online support groups and forums provide an additional platform for individuals to connect with others in recovery. Overall, ongoing recovery requires commitment and dedication, but long-term sobriety is possible with the right tools and resources. With the help of family, friends, peers in recovery, and addiction professionals, individuals can learn new behaviors and adapt to a lifestyle free from substance use. Through continued effort and support from loved ones, successful recovery is achievable.

Start Your Path to Recovery at Brentwood Springs Detox

Begin a transformative journey of self-discovery and healing at Brentwood Springs Detox. Here, we see you as more than just a client – you’re a unique individual with distinct needs and aspirations. Our compassionate team is dedicated to guiding you toward overcoming addiction through a personalized blend of evidence-based treatments and holistic therapies. It’s not just about getting clean, but also about equipping you with new skills and strategies to embrace a fulfilling, positive life.

Contact us today to get started on your path to recovery at Brentwood Springs Detox, where a healthier, happier you awaits.

How long does drug addiction treatment usually last?

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