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As more research has been conducted on substance abuse, addiction, and recovery, it has become increasingly apparent that there are multiple stages to the recovery process. These stages are known as:

  1. Pre-contemplation. This is the very first stage of recovery, when addicts come to the realization that there are repercussions associated with their addiction. However, rather than moving forward to the next step of recovery, they decide to justify their choices and view them as a benefit rather than a deficit.

  2. Contemplation. In the second stage of recovery, addicts realize the greater consequences of their choices. In spite of this slow shift in outlook, they may still question whether it is worth changing their ways, or if they are already in too deep to try. However, before they can move to the third step of recovery, they must accept that the costs of their addiction greatly overshadow its perceived benefits.

  3. Preparation. During this stage, addicts are slowly coming to the realization that they have control over their choices and do not have to fall victim to the substances they have abused. Throughout this stage, those in recovery must be reminded that, while they are going through this process for themselves, they do not have to endure it by themselves.

    If you or a loved one are currently going through the process of recovery, be sure to provide them with emotional support as well as referrals for professional support as well. This is the most crucial time in one’s recovery, as it is very easy to backslide, so ensure they have an arsenal of support to turn to when temptation comes their way.

  4. Action. This is the stage of recovery where addicts adopt new, positive and constructive mindsets by immersing themselves in their own recovery — as opposed to just abstaining from the substance(s) they once relied on. This is when those in recovery must be reminded that their pasts do not make up their futures, and that the ability to genuinely turn their lives around is right within their reach — meaning they must not give up, even when the going gets tough.

  5. Maintenance. Those who have struggled through the fourth stage of recovery ultimately wind up in the maintenance stage, when they have learned how to maintain their new, healthier habits in their everyday lives.

    However, this stage is not simple to surpass, as those in recovery are becoming exceedingly aware of the different stimuli that could trigger them to relapse. It is imperative that additional help, support, and guidance is sought throughout this time, as those in recovery will need as much encouragement as possible.

  6. Termination. This is the stage that every recovered addict has fought to get to. For some, it takes months; others, years; and others may struggle for decades before they are able to look back on their previous life and claim that they no longer want any part of it. Although it takes massive amounts of determination, blood, sweat, and tears to make it to this point, many who do remain confident in their choice to never return to their old lifestyles, but focus on building up their new lifestyles instead.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the stages and styles of addiction recovery. Keep an eye out for the second installment of this series, which will be coming soon!