How Long To Break A Habit Of Something? A Scientifically Proven Method

Habits are an essential part of our daily life. Whether it’s biting our nails, consuming sugary snacks, or constantly checking our phones, habits can be both beneficial and harmful to us. If you stick to good habits for a long time, it gives you amazing results. On the contrary, if you adopt bad habits daily then it will definitely give you negative results in the long run.

Giving up a bad habit is not a big deal but if you are choosing the wrong path to give up then you may have to face some difficulties. Understanding the science behind habit formation and the time it takes to break a habit can make the process more manageable. In this blog post, we will know how long to break a habit of something and provide you with some scientifically proven methods to help you succeed.

Understand The Habit Loop

To understand how long to .break a habit, we first need to understand the concept of the habit loop. This loop includes three crucial key components: the cue (signs), the routine, and the reward. 

Cues relate to the trigger points that initiate the habit, the routine is the behavior or identity it creates, and the reward is the immediate gratification we get from completing the habit. Breaking a habit involves disrupting this cycle.

How Long To Break A Habit Of Something? A Scientifically Proven Method

Psychologists have long been interested in the process of habit formation and breaking. According to the study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, researchers estimated that it typically takes around 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic and for participants to consider it a habit.  

However, this number can be different from 18 to 254 days depending on the individual effort to stick with the commitment, consistency and complexity of the habit.

The key takeaway is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how long it takes to break a habit because it largely depends on the person’s thinking and commitment. 

If you know the purpose of why you want to break this habit, then it can be easy to break them. Knowing the purpose also plays a very important role in breaking the habit in any easy way.

how long to break a habit

The Scientifically Proven Method

Now that we are aware of the science behind habit formation and breaking, let us know some scientifically proven methods to help you break a habit effectively:

1. Identify The Cue

To break a habit, it is very important to identify the signs of your bad habit. The cue is like a triggering point or stimulus that initiates to follow the habit. It could be anything like an emotion, a specific time of the day, a place, or an event. 

If you recognize and understand this signal then it can help you anticipate when a habit may arise and take steps to change your response. 

When you feel like repeating a habit, ask yourself if it is good for me, if the answer is ‘no’ then stop yourself. This gives your brain a trigger to stop the habit. Try to be conscious before doing anything.

2. Replace The Routine

Once you have identified the cue, then you have to focus on finding out the best substitute for your habit. This substitution helps to redirect your actions when you feel triggered by the habit’s cue. 

For example, if you are trying to quit smoking, you could replace the action of smoking with deep breathing exercises or chewing sugar-free gum when you feel the urge. 

Remember, the moment you decide on your goal, you have to believe in yourself that it is becoming your identity. For example – if someone offers you smoke, then you have to say ‘No thanks’, ‘I am not a smoker’ instead of saying ‘I am trying to quit smoking’. You must create a strong belief in your mind that you have already become the person you want to be.

3. Use Triggers to Your Advantage

Using triggers to break a habit involves reusing the cues that typically initiate the habit. Instead of avoiding these triggers, you can use them as reminders for your new habit. 

For example – If you are feeling stressed then you can use stress reduction techniques, you have to take your bad habit as a reminder of your healthy behavior. This approach uses the same cues to reinforce positive change, making it easier to replace the old habit with a more desirable habit.

4. Reward Yourself

Rewarding yourself can be an important aspect of breaking a habit. When you notice that you are successful in breaking an old habit and shifting into a new one, then celebrate your accomplishments. You can give yourself rewards as small gifts or personal acknowledgments, which develop positive behavior and give you motivation to continue your journey of breaking the bad habit.

5. Stay Consistent

Consistency is an important key point when we talk about breaking a habit. It involves consistently choosing a new behavior over an old one, despite challenges or setbacks. Over time, this consistency rewires your brain and loosens the grip of the bad habit, making it easier to break the habit and establish the desired change in behavior.

6. Monitor Progress

Monitoring your progress is a crucial step for habit-free success. You should maintain a journal or record of your efforts that allow you to track your journey, identify what strategies you used, and celebrate milestones. It provides a great insight into what works and what doesn’t, helping you to stay motivated and determined to break the habit and promote lasting change.

Concept Of 7 Days To Break A Habit

The “7 Days to Break a Habit” concept is an approach to starting habit change within a week. This process does not mean that you will break any of your habits within 7 days whether it’s smoking, biting nails etc. 

For example – If you want to break a habit of eating junk, then first of all you will have to set a target of not eating junk for 7 days. When you complete your target in 7 days, you will get motivation somewhere that you can achieve your goal.  

This 7 day concept includes becoming aware of the habit, setting clear goals, 

work on the process instead of a goal, find healthy substitutes, remove triggers, practice mindfulness, and celebrate progress.  

Remember, if you want to break or make a habit of something then always focus on your process, not the goal. If you try this strategy you will definitely get the results well. Goals work to give you direction but process works to make you successful. 

Does It Take 21 Days To Break A Habit?

The belief that it takes 21 days to break a habit is a common myth that continues for a long time, but it lacks scientific support. The time anticipation for breaking a habit can be different between individuals and it usually depends on the complexity of the habit, personal factors, and the path you chose.  

As I mentioned above, it can take about 66 days to establish new habits or break old habits. However, there is not any fixed number of days or months that applies universally to changing a habit, but it is important to focus on consistent effort and personal progress rather than a specific time frame.

How Many Days To Break An Addiction?

The time it takes to recover from addiction can be different and depending on several factors, such as 

  1. What type of addiction do you have?
  2. The severity of the addiction.
  3. How long has the person been addicted?
  4. The person’s overall health and lifestyle.
  5. The person’s access to support and treatment.

However, most experts agree that breaking an addiction is a long-term process and it requires a strong commitment and consistent effort. There are no quick fix results.

The first step to breaking an addiction is to rid the body of toxins from the abused substance. This can be a difficult and painful process for those who are strongly addicted, and it is crucial to be under medical supervision. Once the body detoxification is done, the individual can start to focus on addressing the underlying causes of their addiction and try to develop healthy coping skills.

Addiction treatment usually involves a combination of individual and group therapy, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and lifestyle changes. MAT can be generally helpful for those people who have been struggling with opioid addiction for a long time.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends that people spend at least 80-90 days in a drug rehab program.  This program gives the brain time to rethink itself and learn new ways to deal with stress, anxiety and difficult emotions.

Even after completing a treatment program, people who are in the recovery process need to continue working on their sobriety. This may include seeing a therapist on time, connecting with support groups, and focusing on making healthy choices in your daily life.

If you or someone you know is struggling with any type of addiction, please reach out for help and to provide healthy treatment. There are many sources available to contact, online or offline, and you don’t have to go through this alone.


Breaking a habit can be challenging but it is an accomplishment. Although the time it takes to break a habit depends from person to person, understanding the habit and following a scientifically proven method can greatly increase your chances of success.

Remember, it’s all about recognizing the signals, changing the habit of making choices, rewarding yourself, being persistent and monitoring your progress over time. With determination and the right approach, you can take a lifelong break from unwanted habits and pave your way to a healthier, more positive lifestyle.

FAQ – How Long To Break A Habit Of Something? A Scientifically Proven Method

Is 3 Days Enough To Break A Habit?

3 days to break a habit is not sufficient and the time frame totally depends on some factors such as individual consistency, determination and type of habit. 

What Is The Concept Of 28 Days To Break A Habit?

The concept of 28 days to break a habit shows that individual consistent effort for four weeks can weaken and possibly eliminate a habit.

What Are Some Common Habits That People Want To Break?

There are some common habits that people want to break such as smoking, alcohol consumption, excessive phone use, nail-biting, procrastination, overeating and negative self-talk.

How Many Days Does It Take To Break A Habit Of Smoking?

Quitting the habit of smoking depends from person to person. On average, it takes approximately 66 days to form healthy behaviors, but it may take some more time to quit smoking due to its addictive nature.

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