What Are the Stages of Addiction Recovery?

Recovery is hard work; ask anyone that has gone through it. However, you’ll find that those who have gone through it and have been sober for many years will tell you that it was the best thing they ever did for themselves despite the difficulty they faced. Recovery is a daunting process. It appears as a massive mountain that towers into the clouds, and you’re just standing at the bottom. However, by focusing on the various stages of recovery, it can be made to feel less overwhelming. By understanding the recovery stages, you may be more motivated to take the first step and go to treatment to begin the process. 


Over time, the physical and mental consequences of addiction take their toll on the individual that is wrapped up in the disease. During this stage, the addict becomes aware of these consequences. They may begin to notice how much different they look compared to old pictures of themselves. They begin to realize they aren’t as happy as they used to be, and old joys have been replaced with pain. Even so, the addict continues to justify their addiction despite these consequences. This continues until the addict realizes that the impact addiction has had on their life is more severe than they realized, and they can no longer justify it. 


An addict enters this stage when they recognize that their addiction is severe, and the impact it has had on their life outweighs the enjoyment of using drugs or drinking alcohol. They begin to become more open to the idea of recovery and treatment but haven’t made the decision to get sober just yet. Even so, it becomes apparent at this point that recovery is likely to happen in the future. They aren’t ready in this stage and often become defensive if someone asks them about treatment, coming up with excuses for not going. 


The shift from contemplation to preparation comes when the addict has made the decision to change their life. Getting help is now something they want to actively seek. They realize that they are capable of making those changes and getting help to better their lives. They are less defensive when the idea of treatment and recovery is brought up, often asking questions and leaning on family for support. Treatment options are researched, and the addict is able to begin taking steps towards treatment. 


An addict is in the action stage when they begin actively taking steps towards getting better. This can be researching treatment centers, making arrangements to go into rehab, and actually going. This stage is defined by the individual deciding to change their life and stop using or drinking. They must realize the positive impact getting sober will have on their life as they work toward this prospect in rehab, support groups, and more. Taking action also doesn’t mean just going to therapy and talking about their issues. This stage also includes exercising, eating right, sleeping enough, and taking care of themselves to support themselves in recovery. 

Maintenance and Recovery

The maintenance stage occurs when an individual has finished their treatment program and is now living life independently. They must make the proper decisions to maintain their sobriety for the long term, taking concrete steps to do so. This includes going to aftercare appointments, joining a support group, getting a sponsor, creating a relapse prevention plan, etc. The stage is crucial because it is often when many recovered addicts slip and relapse. Having the proper resources, contacts, and relapse prevention plan will help them be successful during the maintenance phase. 


It is essential to understand that addiction is a chronic disease, meaning there is no cure. Recovery must be continuously maintained to manage symptoms and keep a person from relapsing. This means staying sober and present in recovery. Termination is characterized by years of sobriety when a person is at the least risk of relapsing. Most individuals in this stage of recovery are unlikely to relapse. They see the gift that sobriety has given them and can confidently stay in this stage and help others in earlier stages. 

The Benefit of These Stages

While looking at the different stages at the beginning of addiction recovery can seem overwhelming and intimidating, having them broken up in this way makes the process of recovery seem more manageable. Each stage is characterized by actions, behaviors, and thoughts of the individual as they go through the process. There is no timeline for healing, and you can move through the stages at your own pace. This makes recovery seem that much more possible and accessible to those that doubt they can get through it. 


The process of recovery takes time, and each individual moves at their own pace. You cannot rush healing or force someone to recover. This is why there are various stages to the recovery process, making it easier for individuals to understand their path. By educating addicts and their loved ones on the stages of addiction recovery, the process will be more straightforward for everyone involved. At Choice House, we support our clients through every stage of recovery. We want to see them meet their recovery goals and grow into independent, motivated, and sober individuals. Through our treatment modalities and client support, we help our clients find confidence in their recovery. After our clients leave us, we hope that they can maintain their sobriety for the long term and even help others that are in the early stages of recovery. Call us today at (720) 577-4422 to begin your journey to sobriety. 

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