What Are The Stages of Change?

There is no magic formula when it comes to recovering from addiction. It demands a complete lifestyle change, which can seem incredibly overwhelming. However, there are milestones of change that you will reach in your recovery process, which will ensure you keep those motivation levels and continue to feel a sense of achievement. With that being said, let’s take a look at the stages of change in further detail so you can get a better understanding. 

1. Precontemplation

The first part of the stage of recovery is known as precontemplation. This is when the person may not think about their behavior as an issue. During this part of the process, those with addictions can be categorized into four different categories, which are as follows:

  • Rationalizing pre-contemplator – This is a person who thinks they have all of the answers and reasons why substance use is not a problem for them. 
  • Resigned pre-contemplator – This is a person who is overwhelmed by their addictive behavior to the point whereby they have given up hope for the possibility of change. 
  • Rebellious pre-contemplator – This is a person who does not want to let go of their addictive behavior, as they do not like being told what to do. 
  • Reluctant pre-contemplator – This is a person who does not have any awareness of their issue, and so they do not have the motivation to make changes.

2. Contemplation

The second part of change is known as contemplation, which is when someone realizes that they have an issue. They may feel like they wish to change but they do not feel like they are able to commit to this fully. 

In this stage, the person tends to be more receptive to learning about the consequences that could arise due to their behavior, as well as the different treatment options available. 

However, they are still contemplating at this point, and so they have not made a change or committed to a certain strategy. For some people, this stage can last for years. Some people end up reverting back to the first stage.

3. Preparation

This is a person who is committed to making the changes that they need to make so that they can get their life back. 

They may meet with a healthcare expert to evaluate where they are and to figure out options for their long-term addiction treatment program.

4. Action

Next, we have the “Action” part, which is where real change happens! For a lot of people, the action starts in a residential or detox treatment center, where medical and clinical professionals can navigate a person through the start of their recovery. 

In this stage, the person is going to start their addiction treatment, which will help to address the underlying causes of addiction. Both group and individual therapy can be used to help the person better understand their addiction and themselves, as well as complementary, alternative therapies that can promote holistic wellness, boosting their recovery. 

During this part of the process, the person is going to be equipped with effective and healthy strategies for coping with triggers and stress that enable them to progress through the maintenance stage without there being a relapse.

5. Maintenance

Change is something that requires time and effort. You cannot click your fingers and expect everything to happen overnight.

In the maintenance stage, a person starts to adapt to their new lifestyle, as the momentum builds, going to back old habits is not as much of a threart. 

However, a relapse is something that can happen to everyone, despite acquiring the new tools and skills needed, and so it is important to recognize the signs and reach out for help when it is needed. 

6. Termination

The final stage is what is known as a termination. This is the ultimate goal for anyone who has had a substance abuse issue.

Termination refers to a state whereby you do not feel threatened by the substance you have previously abused.

At this point, you feel comfortable and confident living life without substances and the fear of relapse becomes less and less every day.