Recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) requires you to go through various forms of change. Change is not always easy. Fortunately, understanding the stages of change can help ease this process.

This process is generalized to help people understand the overall process of change. However, each step may vary in length between individuals.

What Are the 5 Stages of Change?

To properly address the effects of change on addiction, it is essential to understand the stages of change.

Stage 1: Pre-contemplation

This stage is the beginning of the stages of change. Individuals in this stage have zero to little recognition of their problem and are not currently taking any initiative to create an environment for change. If the problem is recognized or brought into focus, the individual may feel that the change cannot happen.

Individuals in this stage may need coaching to help accept and understand the problem at hand. They may be pushed by family members or other individuals to seek help and begin the change process. Some people can move forward in this stage on their own, but it often requires the push of another individual.

Stage 2: Contemplation

During the contemplation stage, the issue at hand is acknowledged and recognized. The problem has been thought about in terms of potential solutions. While the problem has been made aware of in this stage, a full understanding of the problem may still need to be addressed.

Individuals tend to get stuck in the contemplation stage for a long period. In this stage, there is not yet commitment or motivation to make the change happen, but awareness of the issue at hand. Developing motivation to start recovery can be incredibly difficult. Leaving this stage is a challenge for many to overcome.

Stage 3: Preparation

This is the planning stage of the stages of change. Creating a plan before taking action and finalizing the details of your plan are key focuses during this stage. The plan development process can either set an individual up for success or failure. Ensuring you have a well-thought-out and detailed plan is important to consider during this stage. Commitment is important to obtain during this period.

Stage 4: Action

The action stage is the true state of movement toward change. In this stage, behavior modification and following the plan created previously are essential. This may not always mean there is an adjustment solely in behaviorism. Adjustments can be made in the environment, feelings, emotional regulation, self-awareness, relationships, and similar areas.

During this stage, individuals may choose to admit themselves into a recovery program and seek further assistance to create these changes. Reward systems are often used to help monitor success in your progression. This stage may also be longer in duration, as the development of skills to create long-lasting change in this stage is necessary.

Stage 5: Maintenance

This stage is considered to be relatively permanent in terms of recovery. During this stage, the key focus is to maintain your progress and utilize the skills needed to keep the progress on your own. This commonly refers to maintaining sobriety; however, there may be other goals and focuses on maintaining as well.

Ensuring a relapse prevention plan is in place is a great way to ensure success in the maintenance stage. If a relapse is encountered, the stages of change may take a few steps back. Being prepared with a prevention plan can help eliminate the potential of repeating this cycle for the same problem.

Extra Stage: Termination

This stage is not always recognized as a stage of change and is not considered in the main five stages. However, it can be applicable at times. The termination stage is only acquired when the problematic behavior no longer poses any concern or relapse.

Many consider recovery from SUD to be in the stage of maintenance eternally, as the risk of relapse is always somewhat prevalent. The stages you use to categorize your level of change are up to your discretion.

Using These Stages to Create Lasting Change

These stages can be extremely useful in assessing your readiness to change. This can help you determine where you need to improve and what you need to move forward in recovery. Understanding your state in the stages of change can help you further your understanding of what you need to move forward and ensure you are completing the necessary obligation to make change happen.

Take the time to assess your stage of change and create a plan to move forward. If you are struggling to do this on your own, reach out to your treatment team for assistance. We are here to help you create a plan that is suited to your needs. The process of change is different for everyone, and may take external support to recognize where you fall into these stages. Allow us to help you make change happen at Dream Recovery.

The five stages of change are easy ways to recognize the point you are at in your recovery process. Determining the stage you are currently in is not always an easy task. You may want assistance from an external perspective. You can utilize these stages to help you determine the next steps in your recovery journey and understand your motivation level. It is most often the hardest to recognize the pre-contemplation stage. Once you develop recognition for being in this state, moving through the rest of the process can be much easier to achieve and recognize through each stage. To learn more about making lasting changes, reach out to Dream Recovery at (657) 216-7218.

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