5 Stages Involved In Addiction Recovery

Alcoholism and drug addiction are a complicated ailment. It affects millions of Americans each year. Overcoming this illness is a big challenge with no set timeline. Each individual who has taken to substance abuse will need a different treatment. Yet, most addicts prefer not to start the treatment due to a set of fears and unwillingness.  

There are five steps for recovery from addiction: Pre-Contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action and Maintenance. This five-stage model developed in 1977 by James Prochaska and Carlo Di Clemente helps assess an addict’s state of willingness to enter into the recovery stage. It also helps the family members of the habitual addict understand the motivation factors that can lead to recovery.

The recovery period varies with the duration of addiction. Some substance abuse experts also associate de-addiction episodes with trends. Every stage of de-addiction needs a different treatment approach for best results.

Each recovery phase can be further classified into early, middle and late stages. A client in the contemplation phase is in an early recovery phase. Some of the concerns of the addicted client are curbing cravings, keeping away from substance abuse and avoiding lapse. The priorities in the later stages of recovery are on rebuilding damaged interactions. Let us enrich our understanding of the five-stage addiction recovery step by step.    

1.) Pre-Contemplation: The Non-Cooperative Stage 

In this stage, the addicted persons are yet to admit to themselves that they have a problem. They rationalize their addiction to alcohol and substance abuse. They also show disinterest in saying yes to treatment. The convincing reasons they have of addiction vary from a stressed job, home life, peer pressure, even genetic bent of mind. This phase is often called a hopeless period in an addict’s life, the rock bottom stage. 

The treatment team helps the addicted client to move towards contemplation by making the addict understand the fallout of addiction. The task is challenging but with the help of motivational interviewing techniques, the treatment team is able to persuade the addict to consider a change.      

2.) Contemplation: The Thinking or Considering Stage 

This stage marks a shift from the negative to a positive phase. In the Contemplation stage for addiction recovery, the patient realises the consequences of addiction and expresses a desire to seek treatment and help. It is a huge mental shift and a major step for the client. The only unsure part is how to move forward.

The addicts can stay in the contemplative stage for months, thinking about the potential courses of action, and expected results. Procrastination is common in this stage. Feelings of guilt are common as the addicts find themselves at a crossroad.      

The addiction treatment specialists during this stage make the client weigh the aftermath of practicing addiction and how de-addiction can help change the situation. The interviewing techniques work to strengthen the client’s thought process to go in for de-addiction.

3.) Preparation: The Positive Stage for Change  

For the addicts, this stage is one of excitement. It involves making concrete plans for those who have made up their mind to go on the path of de-addiction. The counsellors work out a treatment plan customized to each client depending on the magnitude of addiction.

Often patients skip the initial preparation stage to enter the action stage. It is inadequate for the patients. Counsellors make sure the addicted patients follow the step-by-step course and avoid jumping to the last stage of treatment. 

4.) Action: The Happy Stage that Starts De-Addiction 

The word action signifies movement, feat, and achievement. For addicts, the action stage is a formal start to recovery, backed by a sense of cooperation. The addicts believe that they can change their negative thoughts, habits, and ideas. The client’s recovery is in line with the strategies and skills of the counselors. The local meetings between the counselor and the addicted individual can play a vital role in changing the behavior and surrounding of the addict.

The addiction recovery takes place at an accredited rehabilitation facility. These changes aimed at bringing moderation help to build confidence and a sense of accomplishment in the addict in the longer run. The active stage requires more effort as compared to other stages; hence it is important. It is the first time when addicts get to experience the outside world. That is why the feeling of satisfaction the addicts get at this stage proves their efforts and cooperation with the outside world to get well.

5.) Maintenance: Keep the Positivity Going

The transition from action to recovery stage is the most important phase for an addict. Recovery is not an immediate happening. It takes time and calls for dedication and inner strength. The recovering addict can return home to normalcy.

To maintain recovery, the addicts should involve themselves in an engaging activity. Attending Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings, or living in a sober home are ways in which drug and alcohol addicts can get to maintain their state of moderation and soberness. 


The five stages of recovery itemized above take time, determination and patience on behalf of the addict. If followed well, the results lead to a meaningful life not governed by alcohol. At times, there are cases where those who have started the treatment feel an urge to go back to addiction. The recovery stage also calls for support and attention from the loved ones.

It is an overwhelming experience full of emotions. It is also a learning experience for treatment specialists to develop individual-focused plans for recovery. To make an addiction recovery successful needs like-minded commitment from the society as well. The process of change may not be easy but the rewards are immeasurable. 

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