Whether you are just coming to terms with your addiction, or if you are well aware, it is never too early or too late to understand the stages of recovery. No one said these stages will be easy and they also may not be exactly the same for every person, but it’s best to have a helpful roadmap on your journey to recovery.
There are many ways to try and understand the process of recovery, but the most captivating process was introduced in the 1970s by psychologists James Prochaska, John Norcross, and Carlo DiClemente and eventually depicted in their book, Changing for Good (1994). Their method can often be referred to as the ‘Transtheoretical Model’ (TTM). These experts even state that though they try and make the recovery process universal on some level, every person’s journey will be different.
Let’s get to those stages:
Stage One- Pre-Contemplation
The “I’m not ready, but I know I should want to be ready” stage. This is where the individual knows there is something wrong, something they know they can do better to live a more fulfilling life. However, at the same time, they aren’t ready to move forward, with the addiction keeping a stronger hold over them. They don’t think they are ready yet. They are still on the defensive side of their addiction battle.
Stage Two- Contemplation
The “I’m getting ready, I’m almost there” stage. At this stage, the addiction is getting worse and the individual and those around them can see the problem continue to spiral. Now aware of their choices and their consequences, they being to wonder if there is a way out, while at the same time not ready to let go of their addiction.
Stage Three- Preparation
The “I’m ready” stage. The individual now knows for certain that they are ready for a change. They accept that they need expert help and that they need treatment. They know that this big life-changing decision will make their life better. Now is the time that they plan and find a recovery center and treatment that is best for them.
Stage Four- Action
The “I’m doing something about it” stage. After the individual has come to terms with the fact that they need help and have done their research and due diligence to find a treatment center that works well for them, now it is time that they take action. Taking action however is more than just getting sober, it’s staying sober and making a lifetime commitment. This commitment is driven towards a healthier and productive lifestyle. This is typically the current action of a lot of individuals and the most powerful step.
Stage Five- Maintenance
The “I know what I have to do to keep my recovery in check” stage. Just as we keep our homes, car, and personal hygiene maintained, being in recovery will require maintenance. There is no magic switch that is flipped and from then on, you are perfectly content being sober. It will take constant work. You can’t learn a language or how to play guitar overnight or without constant practice, and without both of those, you will lose those skills. The same goes for sobriety. Luckily, there are always programs and support groups that will be there with you along the way. This stage is lifelong!
Stage Six- Termination
The “I know I have transformed” stage. As mentioned in Stage Five, recovery is a constant battle, one that will always require maintenance. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you will always be shadowed by your addiction. This stage means that the individual is aware of their addiction and is working confidently every day to strive towards a better life, but also that they have made huge accomplishments thus far. They may have formed and/or reunited healthy relationships, gotten a stable job and/or other positive life events. What is even more special is that they have no desire or aspiration to go back to their addiction. And all these things signal a job well done and to keep up the excellent work. However, this stage is not always reached, and remaining in Stage Five can be considered equally as successful.
As stated, the process is different for everyone, no one’s road to recovery is the same. But keeping along a similar path can help people find strength in one another and can allow for better and more encouraging support groups. Good luck on your journey, we are with you every step of the way.