How Long Does It Take To Rewire Your Brain After Addiction?

how long does it take to rewire your brain

Drugs and alcohol change the human brain. They affect the milieu of the brain along with the neurotransmitters and neural pathways.

When someone begins using drugs or alcohol, the brain compensates for the change and tries to strike a balance. Over time, these changes become the new normal as the brain adapts to a steady flow of drugs or alcohol.

So, how long does it take to rewire your brain after addiction treatment? The answer varies depending on the individual and the severity of their addiction.

Here’s a look at how addiction affects your brain.

How Long to Rewire the Brain From Addiction 

Research shows that drug users have very active brain regions that trigger intense cravings. These brain alterations are the reason individuals with addiction often relapse, even after completing drug rehab.

Triggers, along with intense cravings, increase the risk of a relapse. Drugs and alcohol overstimulate the reward center of the brain, flooding it with feel-good hormones like dopamine. 

As the individual continues to use drugs, the overstimulation of the brain is harmful in many ways. The basal ganglia, the brain’s reward center, is hijacked and loses the ability to feel good through natural rewards.

The extended amygdala, the emotional center of the brain, is disrupted. This leads to intense cravings and mood swings. 

The prefrontal cortex of the brain is responsible for decision-making and impulse control. When this part of the brain is affected, the drug user has difficulty controlling their impulses and behavior.

The hippocampus is critical for learning and memory. Drug addiction alters this part of the brain and creates a strong addictive cue that persists throughout addiction treatment and after addiction recovery.

The Key to Rewiring

The key to rewiring the brain is avoiding drugs, alcohol, and triggers long enough for the brain to heal and rewire itself to a healthier, well-balanced state.

The best way to accomplish this is through a comprehensive addiction treatment program that includes medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, and counseling.

This can help you build coping skills, manage cravings, and develop a strong support system.

How the Brain Rewires as You Recover From Addiction  

For lasting recovery, a recovering addict must undergo a rewiring of the brain. This is essential for addiction recovery and long-lasting sobriety. Without this, relapses will continue to be an issue.

When triggers hit, someone with a drug dependency may revert to old habits and reach for their drug of choice. Brain rewiring or retraining involves an understanding that these emotions will surface, but you can control them without making destructive choices.

It’s a way of responding to triggers differently. Let’s look at some of the ways addiction recovery helps to rewire the brain.


The first part of recovery involves the detox process. Abstaining from drugs and alcohol allows your brain and body to stabilize without the use of harmful substances.

The detox process can take weeks or even months as withdrawal symptoms lessen and the brain begins to return to normal functioning.

Establishing New Routines

This process begins during drug and alcohol recovery. As your day is filled with healthy habits, self-care, social interaction, and natural rewards, your brain learns a new way to feel good once again.

At this stage, sleep, nutrition, mental health treatment, exercise, and social connections are all essential for the rewiring process.

Therapy and Counseling

Professional support is essential for uncovering the root causes of addiction. This helps people with addiction learn coping skills and strategies to deal with triggers, cravings, and life’s daily challenges in a healthy way.

Individual and group therapies are both helpful for long-term recovery.

Community Support

Connecting with others traveling the same road and committed to sobriety provides encouragement, accountability, and guidance. Support groups, online recovery, family, and friends who support your sobriety are all helpful for creating neural connections.

A quality drug treatment program can help provide the tools you need to get through the recovery process and avoid relapse.

Accepting Setbacks and Trying Again

Relapse is a common part of recovery. You can learn from a relapse and get back to the hard work of addiction recovery. 

Every day you are sober, your brain heals a little more and more. Try to remain dedicated to your sobriety and never stop trying.

How Long Does It Take to Rewire Your Brain?

The rewiring process varies and is highly individualized. There’s no set timeframe for rewiring the brain.

The time it takes for the brain to rewire depends on various factors, including:

Type of Drug Used

The type of substance you use plays a role in the rewiring process. More addictive substances like heroin, cocaine, and meth may take longer to recover from than alcohol or marijuana.

Your Individual Circumstances 

Your physical health, mental health, genetics, environment, and support system can all affect your recovery. Drug addiction can make mental illness worse.

Schizophrenia, psychosis, paranoia, and violent behavior can all worsen with heavy drug and alcohol use. Brain healing can take longer when the individual has a co-occurring mental health issue. 

Other co-occurring conditions associated with drug and alcohol addiction include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Personality disorders
  • Bipolar disorder

Your Commitment to Sobriety

Willpower is not the cure for addiction, but your determination to beat your addiction matters. Your dedication to your sobriety and your ongoing efforts and positive actions will enhance your recovery.

The Neuroplasticity of the Brain 

The addicted brain is damaged, but the brain itself is resilient. Although drugs and alcohol can rewire your brain in harmful ways, the brain maintains the amazing capacity to bounce back.

This is due to the brain’s neuroplasticity. The same pathways and connections that lead to addiction can also lead to healing.

The pathway to brain healing may not be linear. There may be setbacks along the way to sobriety.

With perseverance, patience, and ongoing support, you can achieve freedom from addiction.

Treatments to Help Rewire the Brain

The average time for wiring of the brain is 90 days. This is just an estimate because everyone’s path is different, and the time it takes to rewire the brain varies.

Over time, the brain has the ability to create new pathways toward healthier thought patterns and behaviors. Some people need extra help and support to maintain their sobriety.

There are a variety of treatment options available for addiction recovery, and they can all benefit brain health.

Some treatment options include:

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is a type of counseling that is beneficial in changing negative behaviors and thought patterns. This may include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

CBT focuses on changing destructive thinking patterns and behaviors. DBT helps you learn how to regulate your emotions and develop coping strategies.

Holistic Therapy 

Holistic therapies like meditation, yoga, and acupuncture can help you reduce stress and manage anxiety. These types of therapies promote the rewiring process and promote relaxation and healthy coping strategies.

Support Groups

Support groups are an important part of the recovery process for many people. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) provide support, accountability, and encouragement for those suffering from addiction.

Healing Brain Cells After Addiction

The good news is that your brain cells can heal after addiction. There are highly effective treatments available to help you change your life from addiction to a life free of harmful substances.

Addiction changes your brain chemistry. The path to a healthy brain requires quality treatment and long-term therapy, but it is possible. You can heal after addiction, and you deserve the right to live your best life free from addiction.

Get the Help You Deserve

Retraining the brain can take 30 days for some people. For others, it may take many months.

The brain is an amazing organ with the capacity to heal, even after serious addiction. The brain can learn and unlearn negative behaviors.

It’s important to understand the effects of addiction on the brain and to know addiction treatment isn’t an overnight cure. Addiction treatment is hard work.

Individualized rehab treatment can help change the brain’s chemical process. Effective programs help re-train the brain and change behavior.

Proper treatment and therapy can help you change negative thinking patterns and promote a healthier way of life. The support of a caring staff, friends and family, and other recovering addicts can help you find new ways to deal with stress and difficult emotions without turning to drugs.

Find the Right Addiction Treatment for You

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, it’s good to know that recovery is possible. How long does it take to rewire your brain? There’s no simple answer because addiction recovery is an individual process.

Drugs and alcohol abuse damage the brain, but with the right treatment and support, the brain can rewire itself to function in a healthier way. Long-term sobriety is possible, although it involves getting the help you need and the desire to live a sober life.

Purpose Healing Center is a leading alcohol and substance abuse treatment center in Arizona. We offer individualized inpatient and outpatient treatment to help you or a loved one achieve long-lasting recovery.

Don’t wait any longer. Contact us today to begin your journey to a better life.