One question that addicts often wonder is how long it usually takes to recover from drug addiction. Although this is a logical question, it’s hard to give a precise answer since there are so many variables to consider. The first step is to determine exactly what the term “recover” actually means.
What exactly does it mean to “recover” from a drug addiction?
It’s complicated to give an actual timeline of recovery from drug addiction based on the following reasons:
- People tend to use the word “recovery” rather loosely. Do they mean once they stop abusing drugs on a physical level? An emotional level? Or both? If they mean when the time will come when they’ll never feel the desire to abuse drugs again whether they’re uppers, downers, alcohol, or anything in between, then it’s likely that day will never come. However, most people probably mean recovery in terms of when their drug of choice is completely eliminated from their system on a physical level. In that case, the recovery time is much less.
- It is important to understand that addiction is more of a process rather than an actual event.
- When recovering addicts claim that they have fully recovered from their addiction, it doesn’t actually mean they are cured. This is due to the fact that if they should relapse, they’re right back to square one, which is why many people prefer to say “recovering” vs. “recovered”.
- Even recovering addicts who’ve been sober and clean for several decades still have the potential to relapse back into drug abuse, especially if the drug of choice is a widely and readily available legal depressant such as alcohol or prescription pills.
Recovery isn’t a one-time event, it’s a process
Recovery is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Keep in mind that giving up drug addiction to depressants is just the beginning of a long-time journey towards a healthy, successful lifestyle. Here are some of the main challenges that recovering addicts often face once they get sober:
- How to rebuild relationships
- Discover a new and meaningful purpose for life
- How to successfully transition from the rehab center to home
- Learn new coping methods
- How to restart their career or find new work
- Discover new healthy activities
- Cope with character flaws
- Learn how to socialize without relying on drugs
- Learn how to face past challenges
Stages of recovery and timeframe it takes to recover
In order to give people a general idea on how long it takes to fully recover from a serious addiction may help if the process is presented in stages. The primary recovery stages include the following:
- The individual admits that they have a drug addiction problem.
- The individual is willing to try and change.
- The individual takes action in order to stop their addiction including entering a rehab facility.
- Remaining abstinent means following all the steps required to stay clean.
- After a two year period the individual will reach the advanced recovery stage. At this point they’re used to being clean and staying clear of drugs and the lifestyle that typically comes with it.
- Emotional sobriety happens after several years of facing difficult and sometimes stressful situations and overcoming each of them without the need for drug dependency.
A few people would arguably say that the absolute last stage of recovery is serenity, which is essentially a true inner sense of peace, tranquility, and joy regardless of what is going on around them or with their own life. Ironically, it was the desperate search for inner peace and serenity that pushed most people into abusing drugs to start with.