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The 5 Stages of Recovery from Addiction

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5 Stages of Recovery:

Transtheoretical Model of Change

How someone gets from, “I don’t have a problem with drugs or alcohol” to, “I have a problem with drugs or alcohol, now what?”  is called the Transtheoretical Model (TTM); basically, it’s the process someone goes through to obtain a healthier behavior and kick a bad habit.

Pre-contemplation Stage

This stage is characterized by denial of alcohol or drug addiction. The substance abuser may not even think he or she has any kind of problem and is absolutely fine with their habit. In this stage you will hear words like, “I can handle my drugs or alcohol”, “I am in control, it’s not that bad”, “I don’t have an addiction problem," etc… A person in this phase is almost entirely unapproachable unless they are willing to believe that they might have a problem with substance abuse.

Contemplation Stage

Uncertainty and conflicting emotions begin to play a role. The substance abuser may start to suffer consequences at this time, like health, legal, & social problems with friends, family, & co-workers.  The problem is starting to become more obvious and awareness begins to take place. Many addicts will bargain with themselves or loved ones in this phase. They want to change but are unsure how and are in fear of treatment, recovery, expenses, detox pain, emotions, and the like. The addict will start to weigh the pros and cons and may make many resolutions, but until an absolute decision is made, nothing will happen. They may stay in this stage until something big enough pushes them to get help or die.

Preparation Stage

The addict begins to prepare for recovery. In this stage they may attend a few 12 step meetings and make a firm resolution to stop drinking or using. This is usually the "trying to control consumption" phase. Some methods are being experimented with, like switching out liquor for beer, replacing their main drug of choice with other drugs, trying to control the amount they take, trying to only do it on the weekends, waiting for a certain time at night to do it, and so on and so forth. The substance abuser may start to become discouraged at this phase because that they can not stop on their own without help. The addict may start to look into addiction treatment at this time.

Action Stage

Usually the attempts and methods in the pre-contemplation stage have failed or are starting to fail. The addict will begin to take direct action towards their recovery. They may attend an inpatient addiction treatment program, and follow a continuum of care after their stay. They begin to learn more about the disease of addiction, work through issues that may be blocking them from growth towards a healthier life, acceptance of not being able to drink or use again, and understanding that they can change.

Maintenance and Relapse Prevention

The most important stage to up-keep, even after treatment, is the Maintenance and Relapse Prevention stage. The alcoholic or addict will focus on maintaining their recovery program as well as implementing the tools they learned in treatment. They will be active in their 12 step program, build support groups, & live life without the temptation to use or drink. Most addicts and alcoholics actions and attitudes will vary between stages and can go back and forth, but for the most part, they will have similar traits.

The Conclusion

No matter what stage an addict or alcoholic is at, if there is breath, there is hope.  As a society, we have come a long way in treating addiction and mental health issues as a whole. With treatment centers and programs like the Watershed, offered all over the United States, there is help out there and we do recover. If after reading this article you identify or know someone that may fit the mold, contact us now to see if the Watershed could help bring your moment to change.

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Posted in Recovery | Tagged , | 2 Comments
  • Dick Dillon

    I appreciated the sentence which began the last paragraph of your excellent report. With nearly 31 years of recovery (come March 13), I reflect that the Latin motto on my family’s Irish crest is “dum spiro, spero” which essentially means “While I Breathe, I Hope”! Thanks

  • AshlingC

    Thanks Dick for your comment. I love what you just shared, I have to remember that Motto, it’s perfect. I am grateful today that we can share our experience so others can have hope. Congratulations on almost 31 years, wow that’s awesome. Hope you stay connected with us and keep commenting! Thanks again.