The Five Stages of Addiction Recovery
Recovery is all about changing. While substance abuse recovery is a different experience for each individual, there are common “stages.” The “Stages of Change” addiction model helps people understand their experiences in recovery.
Each person takes their own different path through addiction and recovery. But it’s important to recognize patterns of thought and reactions that substance abusers tend to face, and how to deal with them. It can be a complicated issue to address, but there is help, and there is hope.
However, if you are starting to consider that you might have a substance abuse issue, or you’re unsure where to go from here, reach out to us at 614-502-6247. Our addiction recovery professionals can answer any questions you have about the rehabilitation process and guide you towards successful treatment options.
The “Stages of Change” analyzes the emotional and mental aspects of the recovery process. Click below to see details on each step and how they apply to your desire for sobriety.
Understanding the “Stages of Change” Model
Carlo C. DiClemente and J.O. Prochaska were two respected alcoholism researchers in the 1980s who introduced a model for six stages of change during addiction recovery. This is to help clinicians deal with alcoholics to understand their clients’ experiences and use it to encourage long-term recovery.
The model for the stages of change in addiction recovery is evidence through direct personal observation, not a theory out of assumptions or abstractions.
In addition to observing people with compulsive drinking problems, the researchers also analyze smokers and overeaters’ behavior. Regardless of “what” addiction a person suffers from. They still share common physical and mental experiences.
The stages of change in addiction recovery address the behavioral changes that a recovering addict undergoes while getting sober. For instance, the current model is five categories:
These might sound like vague terms, but they can be extremely helpful for someone with a substance abuse issue to understand. Below, each of the stages is broken down to help you better grasp the ideas behind this helpful model.
The first step in the five stages of change addiction model is pre-contemplation. This recognizes that many addicts either don’t realize they have a problem or believe people around them are exaggerating it.
Dr. DiClemente referred to the substages involved in contemplation as “the Four Rs.” They refer to the typical reactions of a person who hasn’t seriously considered a change to their lives yet.
Precontemplators are reluctant to change. They are often not conscious of their issues, and they lack the self-awareness needed to inspire change. Their lack of knowledge about substance abuse creates resistance to abrupt shifts in their lifestyle. You may not be ready to take action, or you can’t foresee yourself taking action in the future.
Reluctance typically occurs for about six months when a person first considers rehabilitation. It’s natural to think about the rehab process–and whether it makes sense for you–while using your substance of choice. You might find yourself daydreaming about what it would be like to quit and how you think it would affect your life.
Rebellious contemplation is an increased desire to drink and use despite the addiction problem. You might think that you can make your own formulated decisions during this stage, yet find yourself resistant to rehab suggestions. The truth is, no one wants to know they have a problem. As a result, many addicts rebel against this idea repeatedly before moving forward with recovery.
Resignation during contemplation happens when the addict has lost hope in their ability to change problematic behaviors independently. At this stage, you’ve likely tried to quit on your own without assistance and had negative results. You may feel overwhelmed and defeated by it.
Unsuccessful attempts can feel demoralizing at the moment, but don’t give up! Every attempt to quit builds on the last, and it gets easier the more often you try to put down your substances of choice. Fortunately, the longer an issue goes on, the more likely you will seriously consider getting help.
Precontemplators end this preliminary stage of addiction recovery by rationalizing their disorder. You might find yourself listing off reasons that your drinking and drug use is not a problem while comparing yourself to other addicts. Insisting like you are just “doing what everyone else does” is a common occurrence and is a form of self-comforting.
Remember, no other person and no professional can make you commit to recovery. It’s something only you have control over. You have to want to make profound changes. However, it’s perfectly okay to wonder if rehab is needed or if it’s even worth it. Allow yourself to experience your emotions surrounding recovery and then consider whether you might fall into one of these categories. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, then contact us today. Our professionals will be able to help you start living your happiest and healthiest life.
In this stage, an addict begins to understand that they may have a problem. They are not fully committed to their need for help yet. Maybe they are just ambivalent about the entire process. Your curiosity about treatment methods and outside descriptions of substance abuse may ramp up, and you start to realize you might have a problem.
You may even start to list ways that substance abuse has negatively affected your life. This is common during this stage of change in your addiction.
At this point, it can be beneficial to contact a professional in addiction recovery and start a “risk-reward” analysis of your behaviors. You’ll be asked to create pros and cons for negative behaviors and the reasons to seek change. This can help analyze your previous attempts to stop and help you identify why they failed.
In this stage of addiction treatment, you’ve decided you’re going to try to quit. You’ve built up some resolve and may have experienced a pivotal change in your attitude.
Of course, you may still have reservations about the recovery process. You’ll be ready to dedicate yourself to the complicated process of a full recovery, and you’re prepared to make an informed decision to break the addiction cycle.
Since the next step of the stages of change in addiction recovery involves formulating a plan, your determination in this period will make that process easier.
Moreover, you haven’t yet acquired the skills or knowledge about recovery you will need to be successful. But your determination is real, and at this point, a knowledgeable treatment professional can be of great help. They can guide you through the difficulties you may be facing as you decide to start treating your issue.
You’ll probably start recognizing the pitfalls of getting sober, but won’t let them keep you from moving forward. When you’re ready to develop concrete solutions to end your substance abuse, it’s time to start building a treatment plan and also consider the ongoing support you’ll need after rehab. Let us help you stay determined. Our experts have the tools and resources you need to start your recovery and stay healthy.
You’ve gone through the previous three stages of change in addiction, and you’re ready to create concrete steps toward full recovery. You can start by telling people close to you that you’re prepared to commit to lasting change. Hopefully, when this happens, those around you will join you in supporting your recovery.
When the people close to you approve of–and are even excited by–your decision to turn your life around, it can significantly improve your chances of a successful recovery. It can be beneficial to know that those around you monitor your actions and commit to your positive progress.
Furthermore, you may also find people who have an adverse reaction to your decision. This is where your resolve is essential. Never let anyone convince you you’re doomed to fail, or that recovery isn’t worth the effort. You’re making a big decision to improve your life, and anyone detracting from that will not help you in your process. If you find that certain people negatively influence, consider reducing how many contacts you have with them. If necessary, stop interacting with them until you are in a better position to do so.
This period can be a great time to attend support meetings in your neighborhood or investigate some books on a healthy recovery. You may also decide to begin with an outpatient treatment program to test the waters before committing to a long-term rehab program.
In addition, it’s always a good idea to start this process after consulting a professional in recovery. They can advise you on the level of your substance abuse issue and make recommendations on programs that would be helpful for you.
Your “recovery trajectory” will change over time. Opinions and thoughts will change, and you may need to be ready to adjust your plans if difficulties and barriers come up. However, as you take each day at a time and build up your sobriety, you’ll find that your self-confidence will grow. This can only help boost your level of determination.
The final stage of change in the model for addiction recovery is maintenance.
You’ve achieved sobriety through determination and commitment, and now you’re focused on sustaining that change for the long-term. The new behavioral patterns you’ve researched and practiced, and your newly developed activities to aid in distraction become routine. New skills and habits are becoming automatic, and your mind doesn’t feel “forced” to do them.
It can take anywhere from 3-6 months for your intentions to become automatic actions. Meaning, it might be a while before your cravings and desires come down to normal levels. Fortunately, the more you use them, the more automatic your behaviors become. Each time you make a favorable decision that reaffirms your sobriety, you gain traction on abstinence from drugs and alcohol being the norm in your life.
Lifelong change is hard. There’s no question about it. While the threat of relapse becomes less intense as you make continuous positive choices, it can be easy to slip back into occasional use. Unfortunately, for most people who try to return “normally” to their substance of choice, things can quickly spiral into active addiction again.
It’s important to stay vigilant about abstaining from substances, and ongoing support groups and monthly counseling sessions can go a long way in helping you for years to come.
To summarize, relapse may happen during this stage, and if it does, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Setbacks in recovery are common, and people rarely quit once-and-for-all on the first try. There is no shame in backing up and starting from a previous point. And since you’re already familiar with the process, you’ll be better equipped for the required tasks.
Remember: It’s Your Journey
It’s ok to experience doubt or even fear when you first begin the recovery process. But if you process your thinking, it will help build the confidence you needed to address your substance abuse.
Your resolve will build over time as you thoroughly think about your addiction. Remember, the stages of change in habit are simply a model for the types of behaviors typically seen during the first stages of the recovery process. Not everyone experiences every situation, and not all people experience them in exact order.
Understanding addiction and giving yourself the tools to succeed is an essential part of recovery. You can acquire skills and habits that will lead to a lifetime of healthy, sober living.
Ultimately, it’s never the wrong time to reach out for help. Please reach out to us at 614-502-6247. Our compassionate professionals can answer your questions about addiction and help find the recovery path that’s best for you.
Written by Kristen Holder