How Long Does it Take to Recover from Substance Abuse Completely? 

As a person who is addicted to substances, the road to recovery is uncertain, covered by dark clouds of confusion about how to navigate through the recovery process and how long it takes to recover completely. Well, the honest answer to the time needed to recover from addiction is “it varies from person to person,” as there have been numerous instances of drug relapse where the person has been clean for a few months/ years only to fall back to the same old pattern. 

So, if you are currently in the recovery process, remember that even if your willpower gives up at times, you can still come out victorious with continuous determination and hard work. Moreover, you can opt for professional help, such as substance detox at Align, which will help you attain complete freedom from different addictions, including alcohol, opioids, stimulants, marijuana, and benzodiazepines. So, if you want to know about the different stages of substance recovery and how long it takes for a person to recover from substance abuse completely, this article is here to help you. 

The Different Stages of Recovery:

  1. The contemplation stage: 

During this stage, the addict will try to find justification for their behavior and is in a denial state about their addiction. This phase is accompanied by a lot of delusion about their addiction, and there is definitely a lack of insight about its negative impact. 

However, once the person is out of the denial state, they try to contemplate their readiness. This includes finding excuses about why they are not yet ready for detoxification and will try to find reasons to delay their recovery. 

  1. Preparing for recovery: 

After the contemplation stage comes the planning stage. During this stage, the person is eager to attain sobriety, and there is a sense of urgency to get their life back on track. It is the time when they finally decide to visit a therapist or attempt to quit addiction on their own. However, since most people fail to remain sober in the long term, it is crucial to get the help of a professional who will assist them remain clean for their entire lives. 

  1. Detox stage: 

After the individual has consulted a therapist, the professional is most likely to suggest a complete detox plan. While the person is on their detoxification journey, they are most likely to experience the following stages: 

  • Stage 1: Minor withdrawals:

The minor withdrawal symptoms occur in the first 6 to 24 hours of detoxification. During this stage, the individual experiences slight tremors, nausea, vomiting, and insomnia, and there is nothing much to worry about. 

  • Stage 2:  Major withdrawals

This mainly occurs within the first 24 to 72 hours of last consumption, which is when the normal functioning of mental and physical health takes a huge U-turn, and the person experiences hallucinations, high blood pressure, intense sweating, and a high fever, which can also be life-threatening. Moreover, during the first 6 to 48 hours, that person may also experience “fits” in which the person goes through major seizures.

How long does alcohol withdrawal last? The duration of alcohol withdrawal can vary depending on several factors, including the severity of the alcohol dependence, individual health, and whether there are any underlying medical conditions. Typically, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as a few hours after the last drink and peak within the first 24 to 48 hours. However, some symptoms, such as insomnia, anxiety, and mood swings, can persist for weeks.

  • Stage 3: Delirium tremens

Derilium tremens or DT is a severe and potentially life-threatening condition that occurs during alcohol, benzodiazepines, and valium withdrawals if the individual has been a heavy user for a long time. If one suspects that they are most likely going to experience DT during their detoxification journey, it is best to consult a professional before they take any further steps. 

  1. The final recovery: 

Once the individual successfully recovers from the three major stages of detox, the final destination is not too far. However, remember that there are still high chances of relapse, and one has to train one’s mind to control the urge. Now, if one asks how long it takes to recover from substance abuse, the accurate answer is that it varies from person to person. Here, the willpower of the individual plays a crucial role in how accelerated their recovery process will be. 


The journey to complete freedom from substance is long and unpredictable. Every person has a different story and a different recovery process. However, when one takes the help of a professional detoxification center, they are able to handle the withdrawal symptoms appropriately and have lesser chances of relapse. 

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