Researchers of addiction and recovery recognize that addicts go through stages when it comes to their substance use. At first, they may be in an experiential phase, exploring they ways drinking or drug use makes them feel.
They may enjoy this phase as they experience the highs of substance use. It is a gradual process, however, of becoming more and more dependent upon a substance that contributes to poor decision making. And if addiction sets in, then a person may experience compulsory drug seeking behavior and possibly the eventual deterioration of their life.
Why Addicts Don’t See a Problem
One reason why addicts don’t see that there is a problem with their substance abuse is because denial plays such a big role in the illness. What’s common among addicts is that they go in and out of denial.
They may have an insight from time to time about the dangers of their substance use. For instance, a person might have a brief moment of recognition and realize that getting drunk as often as they are isn’t good for them. At other times, they may be too focused on the ways that alcohol helps them feel better, avoid painful feelings, and boosts their self confidence.
When the benefits of substance use still outweigh the costs, a person may not have a reason to even consider that drinking or drug use is problematic in their life.
However, at some point, a person may realize that there is a problem. And this is the moment the recovery process begins. Although there it may take a long time for that person to get help, the moment of recognizing a problem exists is the beginning of contemplating recovery.
In fact, the word contemplation is used in the Cycle of Change model which describes the slow process of going from addiction to sobriety. This model describes the stages a person goes through along the way.
Here Are the Stages to Recognizing Those Stages
Pre-contemplation stage: A person doesn’t see that there is a problem. They may be enjoying the experiences of getting high and ignore any problems with substance use, if there are any.
Contemplation stage: A person realizes that they may have a problem but they don’t feel prepared to take any action about it.
Preparation stage: A person may begin getting ready to make changes such as calling around for help or asking questions about recovery.
Action stage: A person begins to take action to create change in their life. They may attend a 12-step meeting, talk to a drug counselor, or choose to reside at a sober living home. They might also try to cut back on their substance use.
Maintenance stage: At this stage, a person does what they can to continue making the changes in their life. They may have experienced the benefits of recovery and want to encourage the progress they’ve been making.
At any point between preparation and maintenance a person may relapse. And they may cycle through these stages more than once until they’ve arrived more firmly in maintaining their sobriety.
If you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol or drugs, it’s important to recognize that changing one’s life is a process. Remember to be patient, compassionate, and forgiving.
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