8 thoughts on “How Long Does Addiction Recovery Take?

  • January 25, 2012 at 8:06 am


    I am a wife of an alcoholic…and I am at my wit’s end. In fact, I have left him, and although some may think this cruel, I can no longer handle it with my own health issues and my children to think about. I read your articles, and yes, his memory is gone. Completely. He has gone to detox 6 times, yet refused at the last minute to go in due to not being able to take his books… Nonetheless, my question comes down to this – all the family has tried to help him, and we have learned that no one can until he decides. But what if he doesn’t decide? He loses everything. Is there nothing we can do? By the way, I have attended Alanon meetings, and am in a support group, but feel these are much more of a “been there, done that” rather than a concrete step to healing. Perhaps this is my perception at the moment when under duress. I know I can’t enable him, and Alanon says I shouldn’t nag or lecture him…but in all honesty – it is hard not to do. I walk in what was once our house and find boxes upon boxes of empty beer cans and am afraid he will slip and fall over them. He has lost about 30 pounds. He isn’t eating. What can the family do, when he justifies his behavior?

    • January 27, 2012 at 6:51 pm

      While the old adage that you can’t make an alcoholic get sober if they don’t want to is largely true, interventions have become much more sophisticated in recent years and that has meant many highly resistant alcoholics have successfully completed treatment. It sounds as if he has never actually tried treatment, and research shows that anything less than 30 days is pretty much as effective as no treatment at all. There are many treatment centers that will work with interventionists who can help overcome such obstacles as bringing his books. There is surely a treatment center that would allow him to bring his books if that’s his only reason for refusal. There is a good chance that if you get movement on this excuse, he will find another – hence my suggestion to find a qualified, board-certified interventionist to help you navigate the denial and resistance.

  • February 6, 2012 at 9:48 am

    I think it’s very much unpredictable to know about the exact time for the addiction recovery. It all depends upon the treatment and the patient response towards this treatment.

  • February 18, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Thankyou for this article. I work as an addiction medicine physician in Australia, and I have found this to be a frequently asked question amongst my own patient group. I have to admit that this is where I find the disease model useful as a framework for the discussion – I reflect with the patient the nature of a chronic disease that may not have a cure but can be manageable (like diabetes) and discuss how stable management can lead to the recovery of quality of life, then draw the parallels for them in addressing their dependence. It also opens up the discussion about addressing life factors and not just drug treatment.

  • May 3, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Dr. Sack,

    What research?

    “research has confirmed that addiction is a chronic brain disease akin to heart disease or diabetes.”

    All I could find was Dr. Volkow proving neuroplasticity of the brain, ie brain changes in response to drug use.

    Could you direct me to this research?

  • March 14, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    You’re absolutely right addiction is a lifelong process. i think often times my self i think i’ve won. but then there goes a reminder i’m still fighting

  • May 15, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    The point that recovery takes a lifetime is probably the hardest for addicts to accept. It’s an important message that I’m so glad you focused on. It’s really one day at a time, and when they get too confident, I find that relapse is near. Thanks David, great message!

  • April 2, 2017 at 1:48 am

    Thanks for sharing this useful article. I am representative CNT, USA
    I think it is not unpredictable to identify about the exact time for the addiction recovery. It’s all depends upon the Doctor experience and patient response towards this treatment.


Join the Conversation!

We invite you to share your thoughts and tell us what you think in this public forum. Before posting, please read our blog moderation guidelines. A first name or pseudonym is required and will be displayed with your comment. Your email address is also required, but will be kept private. (Please note that we use gravatars here, which are tied to your email address.) A website/blog/twitter address is optional.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *