Stages of Recovery

The Stages of Recovery 

The recovery process takes time, effort, willpower, and support—but the sober life at the end is worth it all. 

While every person’s journey to sobriety is unique, you may recognise yourself or a loved on in any of these steps.

 

#001: Pre-a contemplation 

During this precontemplation stage, an individual may be feeling the negative effects of their addiction, but they are not interested in changing their habits. 
 
They will likely be defensive about their habit and even deny that it’s beyond their control.
 
Some of the early signs of addiction can include:
 
• Financial issues
• Relationship struggles
• Legal problems
• Using alcohol/ drugs to deal with stress. 
• Physical Symptoms may include; nausea, restlessness, shakes, insomnia, and sweating.
 

 It sometimes takes a big wake-up call to push them to realise they may have a problem or to move on to the next stage, that so called ‘Rock Bottom”. 

 

#002: Contemplation 

At this stage, an individual begins considering changing at least part of their habits within the next six months, but ultimately feels ambivalent.

This is where they weigh the pros and cons of quitting and may be more receptive to information about their addiction.

It’s helpful during this time for loved ones to make themselves available for honest, non-judgmental conversations. 

The decision to move toward recovery can feel overwhelming, and often the support of family and friends is a crucial factor in moving forward.

 

#003: Preparation

Some people consider this stage to be the first real step toward recovery. This is when the struggling individual has made a commitment to change. 

He or she may start to take small steps away from negative habits. Researching addiction recovery is also common and extremely helpful during this time. 

In fact, jumping into recovery without understanding what it entails can make it harder than it needs to be. For example, the detoxification process can cause severe physical effects if not approached in the right way. 

There are also complicated emotions to work through. Addiction can feel like a relationship, something that they’ve been relying on for support. Losing it can lead into the stages of grief: denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and finally, acceptance.

 

#004: Action

If Stage Three is about committing the mind to recovery, this stage is about committing the body.

The individual is likely to actively seek support during this stage. 

The first action to take is detoxification, or “detox.” If attempting a detox alone, the individual should seek a family member or friend to monitor them throughout the process and be prepared to seek medical help if they start experiencing seizures, hallucinations, and confusion.

During this stage some people will embrace the new, healthy habits. They’ll rediscover favorite hobbies that were left in the past, and oftentimes pick up new ones. It’s also common to make new friends. 

Some people will accept the sober life but won’t pursue any other life changes after detox. These individuals may find themselves experiencing dry drunk syndrome. 

They’re stuck in all of their old habits, minus the alcohol. In this state, it’s difficult to see the benefits of sobriety, and the individual may struggle with relapse until they make real changes throughout the rest of their life.

 

#005: Maintenance

As treatment progresses, the focus will turn from learning about the sober life to practicing recovery techniques every day. 

An individual in this stage will be discovering freedoms in their new life that they may have never thought they could experience. They’ll likely still feel the temptation to use, but they’ll be focused on their goal. 

After all, recovery isn’t about abstaining from a substance—it’s about changing your whole life.

During this time, the individual may begin to feel extreme emotions. The positive emotions can feel powerful and extremely encouraging. Unfortunately, when they stop, the lows can be crushing. 

Recovery can feel like a roller coaster as the emotions work themselves back to normal, and being unprepared for it can trigger a relapse. 

In any stage of alcohol recovery, relapse is a very real possibility. Understand what makes a situation high-risk for you. If a relapse does happen, remember that it’s only temporary.

 

#006: Transcendence

Many people include this stage as the final step in the path to recovery. Someone who reaches it will feel they no longer need their old habits or lifestyle. 

The pain of addiction might even feel profoundly distant from who you are now. While one Harvard study found that this stage occurs after five years of sobriety, every person’s journey is different. 

Keep moving forward, and one day you’ll look back and see just how far you’ve come.

What stage are you at? 

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