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How Long Will Cravings Last?

A question people have at every stage of recovery is, “How long with cravings last?” It can be daunting to imagine a future dominated by a perpetual longing to relapse. It’s especially difficult in the early stages of recovery, when you are doing everything right–going to meetings, getting enough sleep, exercising, avoiding triggers, etc.–and you still find yourself thinking about your drug of choice.

If you are doing everything right, or even mostly right, and you still have cravings, don’t worry. Cravings are normal. For a long time, years, decades maybe, this one thing was incredibly important to you. Your brain rewired itself to figure out how to get more of it. That won’t change overnight and it probably won’t go away after a few months of treatment.

The good news is that cravings do fall off sharply after the first week or so. Cravings are most intense during detox, when you feel like you would do anything to make withdrawal stop. For most drugs, withdrawal peaks after a few days, after which the intensity declines quickly. At a certain point, the decline in intensity slows down and you’re on the long road of recovery. The cravings will continue to decrease, but at a frustratingly slow rate.

At this point, you just have to keep doing the things that have been working for you and take it one day at a time. In some ways, recovery is like a breakup with someone who is bad for you. You might miss the person a lot at first and continue to think about him for months or years. After all, that person was a big part of your life. You gradually go from actively resisting getting back together to not having any particular desire to see that person again but you will never forget about him completely.

Remember that a craving is just a feeling. It comes and goes. It may be intense for a few minutes, but if you pay attention, you will notice it never stays intense for long. You probably wait out many temptations every day already. You wait out a craving whenever someone irritates you and you don’t yell in his face, or when you’re running late but resist the urge to drive 100 miles per hour on the interstate. You have an extra challenging craving to manage but it will get easier with practice.

Don’t be discouraged by cravings. They are normal and they get easier to deal with. You also don’t have to deal with them alone. Recovery takes teamwork. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.