Addiction Recovery: The 5 Stages of Change

March 25, 2024|Mental Health|
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Addiction is a complex and challenging disease that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be difficult to overcome, but with the right treatment and support, recovery is possible. One of the key components of successful addiction recovery is understanding the stages of change. The stages of change model is designed to give you a roadmap for recovery, and provide a sense of structure that can aid in relapse prevention. You can use the stages of change independently, or in tandem with an addiction treatment program.


The first stage of change is known as precontemplation, which refers to the initial phase where an individual may not yet be considering any modifications in their behavior. At this point, they might not even perceive their substance use as a problem or fully comprehend the detrimental effects it can have on various aspects of their life. Consequently, during this crucial stage, it becomes essential for those who care about the individual to express genuine concern and offer unwavering support, without exerting any undue pressure or attempting to force change upon them prematurely.


In the contemplation stage, individuals begin to recognize that their substance use is causing various problems and challenges in multiple aspects of their life, such as their relationships, work or school performance, overall well-being and overall quality of life. They may start to deeply reflect upon their current situation and acknowledge the negative consequences associated with their substance use. This emerging awareness leads them to ponder upon the possibility of change, exploring the potential benefits and drawbacks that such a change might entail.

However, despite this growing recognition and inclination towards change, individuals might find themselves torn between conflicting emotions and thoughts, making them ambivalent and unsure about taking immediate action. They may grapple with a range of feelings and thoughts, including doubts, fears, uncertainties and concerns about the challenges that might arise during the process of change. This contemplation stage can persist for an extended period of time, as individuals conscientiously and thoroughly evaluate the pros and cons of altering their behavior, ultimately striving to make an informed decision about their future actions.


During the preparation stage, individuals have made a conscious and determined decision to bring about a meaningful transformation in their lives, understanding the necessity of change and embracing it wholeheartedly. They are actively engaged in meticulously planning their path towards this transformation, meticulously considering every step required to embark on this journey of self-improvement. They enthusiastically begin seeking out various resources and support systems available to assist them in their endeavor, eagerly delving into research to explore an array of treatment options and gain a comprehensive understanding of the diverse methods and approaches that exist. 

Moreover, they actively participate in attending support groups, where like-minded individuals offer solidarity, empathy and encouragement, fostering a positive and nurturing environment that aids their progress. Undeniably, this stage is absolutely fundamental for laying down a strong and solid foundation that is pivotal in ensuring the realization of a successful and impactful change.


The action stage, which is the third stage of the change process, is characterized by individuals actively embarking on tangible and practical steps to modify their behavior and make significant improvements in their lives. These steps can manifest in various forms, such as seeking professional help through therapy sessions to gain insights, joining treatment programs designed to address their specific issues or even making alterations to their lifestyle choices that will support their desired change. Engaging in the action stage demands a substantial amount of effort, dedication and perseverance from individuals as they confront the challenges and obstacles head-on. Nevertheless, this stage also holds the distinction of being the most apparent and observable phase of the entire change journey, where noticeable transformations and progress become visible not only to the individual themselves but to their surrounding environment as well.


The final stage of change, known as maintenance, is an essential and crucial phase that goes beyond the action stage. This phase encompasses the efforts put forth to sustain the changes that were made during the action stage, signifying the importance of long-term commitment and dedication. However, it is imperative to acknowledge that this stage can present its own set of challenges, as individuals may encounter various triggers and temptations that can potentially lure them back into their previous drug or alcohol use patterns. These triggers can be external factors such as certain environments, situations or social circles, as well as internal factors like negative emotions or stressors.

Thus, in order to successfully navigate this stage, individuals require ongoing support, both from themselves and from their support systems. This support can manifest in various forms, such as self-care practices, regular check-ins with a therapist or support group, or even reaching out to loved ones who understand and encourage their journey. 

Additionally, the development and implementation of effective coping strategies are crucial during this phase, as they can empower individuals to overcome the challenges they may encounter along the way. These strategies can range from practicing mindfulness techniques, engaging in healthy activities or hobbies, cultivating a strong support network or seeking professional help when necessary. By harnessing this support and implementing these coping strategies, individuals can strengthen their resolve, remain steadfast in their commitment to change and successfully maintain their recovery in the long run.

Finding the Right Treatment Center For You

If you or a loved one is looking to make impactful change in their addiction, Hartgrove is here to help. With a variety of treatment programs, regardless of your needs or priorities, the professionals at Hartgrove are here to help you on your road to recovery. You can call at 773-433-2900 to schedule an assessment, or walk in to our hospital, to get started on treatment today. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, call 988 or get to the nearest emergency room.


Hartgrove Hospital

Hartgrove Hospital is a Modern Behavioral Health Hospital that specializes in personalized treatment for adults, adolescents and children. We pride ourselves on delivering quality care provided by our compassionate and thoughtful staff. Our mission is to restore the emotional well-being of our patients, while giving them the proper resources for their future.

Some of our programs include our inpatient and outpatient services. As well as our trauma and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). These programs are offered with an all-encompassing psychiatric healthcare service that is both effective and efficient. Located in Chicago, IL, our facility has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

To schedule a no-cost assessment or for more information, please call 773-572-7900 .

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