Common Stages in Addiction Recovery

Common Stages in Addiction Recovery

Posted August 1, 2017 by Christian Smith

One of the most common questions we get from patients and their families is “how long does it take?” Many residential treatment programs range from 20 days to a month. Withdrawal usually takes 8-14 days. However, addiction recovery encompasses a lot more than either of those periods.

Addiction recovery is a process, and for many of us, it never really ends. It simply experiences phases, and ups and downs. However, for the sake of overcoming common hurdles and having a vision of what your recovery will entail, here’s a breakdown of 5 stages that many patients experience.


Withdrawal takes place during the first couple weeks of addiction recovery. During this time, your body is recovering from the effects of addiction, ridding your body of the substance. Depending on the substance in question, the withdrawal phase can be extremely taxing on the body and might call for medical intervention.

Honeymoon phase

The honeymoon phase comes into play after withdrawal is over and can last for a month or two. During this time, you’re feeling excited and empowered, free from the substance and ready to make changes. It’s an excellent time to get the initial work of addiction recovery done, identifying triggers, identifying positive life changes you can make, and working through mental health issues that contribute to addiction. The danger of this phase is that you might feel overconfident, which can cause a relapse.

The Wall

This phase is usually the most dreaded for people recovering from addiction. When you’re in the middle of the honeymoon phase, you dread losing that loving feeling and confronting the harsh difficulties of life after addiction. This phase is very different for every patient. Some never hit the wall. Others spend months in it. After all the excitement of early recovery, you might feel like you have to muscle through the sober days by sheer grit. Often, people experience numerous cravings and they might feel disheartened that things aren’t changing as quickly as you’d hope.

Adjustment phase

This phase happens once patients have gotten over the wall, often 3-4 months after you’re sober. During this period, you start to feel better about yourself and excited for the future, instead of dwelling on the past. Your mood and energy are better, and you’ve ridden out the worst of the cravings. The challenge of this period is that you’re still dealing with the aftereffects of addiction in her personal life and you have to persist in establishing healthy changes and habits that you set up during early recovery.


This stage lasts for the duration of your recovery. You might experience mini versions of former stages, but for the most part, you’re simply working on maintaining the healthy goals and habits that you set for yourself in the early stages of recovery, learning to deal with each life challenge as it comes without depending on substance abuse.

Remember that this chart won’t look the same to everyone. Every patient has their own time frame. Some patients will never define a “wall” phase in their recovery, even after years of being sober. Others never really feel that honeymoon phase where they’re excited and confident about their recovery. Every patient is different, which is why we believe in working with individuals to create personalized plans and treatment.

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