The 6 Stages of Addiction Recovery

At the Lakehouse Recovery Center, we understand the 6 stages of addiction recovery and are here to support you through each and every step.

Change. To overcome addiction, you must change.

Change is hard, especially when trying to overcome a brain disorder like an addiction. But you can do it. The National Institute of Health created the Science of Behavior Change program dedicated to understanding how change happens and how to foster it in people with addictions.

Change consists of elements true to each person, like barriers that prevent change, readiness for change, and resources to help make the change.

The most widely used model of change is by Prochaska and DiClemente, who created the Stages of Change Model.

The model is most associated with addiction but can apply to all life areas. Understanding the stages can help you determine where you are in your recovery.

Keep in mind; you can get help at any time during the process. Mental health and addiction specialists can meet you where you are, whether in the first or final stages of addiction recovery.

Stage 1: Pre-Contemplation

The first stage of addiction recovery is called pre-contemplation. If you are here, you are not interested in changing. Not necessarily because you enjoy addiction, but possibly because you fear withdrawal symptoms, have been using your drug of choice as security, and are in denial that your addiction is controlling your life.

For most in this stage, changing is not something you are ready to do. Even if you face legal charges or have lost relationships or jobs, you are not prepared to quit using drugs or alcohol.

There are “4 Rs” associated with this recovery stage: reluctance, rebellion, resignation, and rationalizing.

However, in this stage, you likely realize you would not be able to change without the help of a medical detox and rehabilitation treatment. Recognizing this is a good thing.

Stage 2: Contemplation

In the contemplation stages of addiction recovery, the consequences of addiction are beginning to outweigh perceived benefits. It feels like you are sitting on the fence post, trying to decide from which side to jump.

On one side is continued substance abuse followed by the same problems, only more of them and with greater intensity. On the other side, getting sober can be a long, arduous process but one you know you need to start.

In this stage, you weigh the pros and cons of seeking treatment, but you aren’t ready to make a final decision.

Stage 3: Preparation

In the preparation stages of addiction recovery, your outlook shifts. You now recognize the consequences of addiction are worsening, and the benefits of getting sober seem better and better with each day. You are open to change and want to learn more about how to change.

Even if you have not stopped using drugs or alcohol, you are ready to do so and take small steps towards recovery.

In this stage, you can work with a treatment provider to plan how you will get sober. You can set goals and create specific steps to help you reach those goals. For example, if your goal is to get sober, you may need to go to a medically supervised detox.

Stage 4: Action

Not only are you following through with detox and rehabilitation treatment services, but you are also doing what it takes to end addiction and eager to move through the stages. You are learning and implementing coping skills, practicing avoiding triggers, and asking for help when you need it.

In the action stage of addiction recovery, you are taking full advantage of the resources to help you stay sober. An example of a resource is outpatient treatment.

After completing inpatient treatment, everyone needs continued care, simply because you need more education and time to combat life triggers that can happen every day. Think of therapy as, like the super hero of relapse prevention, it has your back when times get tough. You need this type of support to achieve long-term sobriety.

You can also receive medication to assist with cravings while in outpatient treatment.

There are different types of outpatient therapy to help in your journey. Intensive outpatient treatment benefits those who are still new in their recovery. You can meet with peers two or three times a week in group therapy. You also get to meet one-on-one with a personal addiction specialist. The idea is to provide the support most of the days of the week.

With the pandemic, treatment centers like The Lakehouse Recovery Center have adapted the way they provide services. You can now attend virtual intensive outpatient therapy through their safe, easy-to-use technology.

Other ways to encourage yourself to stay sober include creating a diet and fitness plan, family therapy, continuing your education, volunteering in the community, and setting career goals.

Stage 5: Maintenance

In the maintenance stages of addiction recovery, you have gained the skills and knowledge to stay sober. You have been successfully implemented them with support and now must start doing so on your own.

Your mindset must be on life-long sobriety using the relapse prevention skills you learned in treatment.

Stage 5B: Relapse

The relapse stage of addiction recovery means the temptation to use substances was too hard to overcome. This stage happens to most people seeking sobriety. You can still be successful in recovery. The key is to seek treatment immediately after your relapse. The sooner you get back into treatment, the easier it will be to get back on track.

Stage 6: Termination

It may not seem like it now, but you can reach the termination stage of addiction recovery. In this stage, you have been sober for a while. You have no desire to use drugs or alcohol again. All areas of your life are stable, and your brain has healed from the trauma of addiction.

Your relationships, career, and physical and mental health are doing well. You are relieved and proud of yourself for overcoming addiction.

No matter which stages of addiction recovery you are in, there is help available. Call us today to learn more. Even if you aren’t ready to start the process, let’s talk.


Messages sent through this form are confidential. Required fields are marked with (*).

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.