The Stages of Addiction Recovery

Wednesday 30th September marks International Recovery Day to conclude Recovery Month, where we celebrate the gains made by all those in recovery from addiction. We always welcome any improvements made by those who are managing health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease and cancer – so why not addiction too? The observance of Recovery Month reinforces the positive message that people can, and do, recover from a substance use disorder. As we approach the end of Recovery Month and celebrate International Recovery Day, we decided to focus this blog on the 5 stages of addiction recovery.

Learning to live with addiction can be complex and challenging, far more difficult than what many people would recognise. Addiction is a debilitating disease, but recovery is possible for each and every individual suffering from addiction.

Many individuals impacted by addiction require unique treatment as their specific needs will differ, and although addiction recovery is so complicated, multi-layered and unpredictable, experts in the field have noticed certain trends and stages that most individuals suffering from addiction experience on their recovery journey.

There are 5 main stages of addiction recovery that are generally recognised:

Stage 1 – Pre-Contemplation

Stage 2 – Contemplation

Stage 3 – Preparation

Stage 4 – Action

Stage 5 – Maintenance

Some also like to divide them into early, middle and late stages of addiction recovery, but each stage requires various techniques and diverse strategies in order for the individual to be effectively treated. Strategies with an individual in the early stages needs to primarily focus on themselves and abstinence and preventing relapse, whereas in the later phases, strategies shift to focus more on relationships and rebuilding.

Stage 1 – Pre-Contemplation

Pre-contemplation is the first stage of addiction recovery. Frequently at this stage the individual is unaware of the seriousness of their addiction, and may be just going through the motions avoiding conversations that may involve addiction or even the people who talk about it with them. If you do confront the individual about their addiction or even stage an intervention it’s ordinarily met with a stern denial. They usually will blame external issues such as their job or relationships rather than themselves. Often when looking back during their recovery, many say this was the stage when they sincerely did not know there was a problem. It’s not until these feelings and emotions change and the individual begins to recognise that they do have a problem that they move to the next stage.

Stage 2 – Contemplation

The second stage in addiction recovery is contemplation. At this particular stage, the individual has identified that they have an addiction and have come to the conclusion that they have to make changes to their life. However, usually the individual will struggle to identify the cause or causes of their addiction and also will be unsure about what the next step is in order to move forward. It can be easy to stay in this stage for long periods of time, thinking about the next step but never acting on it. They may even continue to use their drug of choice, but not get the same enjoyment from it. It’s often almost a “limbo” stage where the individual has substantial disheartening moments of a hopelessness feeling but also at times has uplifting moments contemplating making a change for the better. It’s that first step to seek help that’s the hardest. It’s a giant step forward in the recovery journey. Throughout the entire recovery journey, but particularly at this stage, it’s vital to focus on a positive future in recovery free from substance abuse, rather than thinking and lingering on the past and mistakes made. Someone at the contemplation stage is generally more open and willing to receiving information on the consequences of their actions and more open to what services are out there to help them with their addiction. Usually the end of the contemplation stage is marked by a mixture of anxiety but also excitement for the future.

Stage 3 – Preparation

The next stage in the addiction recovery journey is the preparation stage. At this stage the individual suffering from addiction has made plans for their recovery by admitting to themselves that they need help and are organising and planning their next steps for carrying out the necessary changes to their life free from substance abuse. It can often be a time of uncertainty for the individual themselves, but once committed to their plan of action are able to progress to the next stage. Here at Tabor Group we are always more than willing to pass on information on each of the services we offer and help identify what treatment is best and help prepare individuals for their treatment to ensure a smooth transition to the next step in the addiction recovery journey.

Stage 4 – Action

The fourth stage in the addiction recovery journey is the action stage. This is the stage where the real change happens in the individual’s life, where they begin the physical process of recovery. In most instances, this involves beginning your treatment in facilities such as Tabor Group’s primary residential treatment centre in Tabor Lodge. This often builds confidence as the individual feels a sense of pride and accomplishment for taking this substantial step in their life. It can be quite a vulnerable and stressful time for the individual, but can also be an exciting time. There is also a feeling of satisfaction associated with the action stage, with the individual proving the worth of their efforts.

Stage 5 – Maintenance

The fifth stage of addiction recovery is maintenance. Often overlooked, the maintenance stage needs to begin immediately after the action stage. Its aim is to continue to achieve the progress the individual has made in the action stage. Once returning home following treatment, the individual may be put in situations or positions that could trigger a relapse. It’s important to remember that recovery is a process and not a single event. It takes a great amount of time as well as inner-strength and dedication. Over time people can become complacent and think a small relapse won’t make a real big difference, but it can. Stress can also re-trigger the addictive behaviour, even after long periods of time.

To help with our client’s recovery journey post treatment, and to help them cope with the demands of day-to-day living, Tabor Group offer a Continuing Care Programme. Our programme involves participation in a facilitated weekly group meeting & commitment to an individualised care plan over 12 months, with an option to continue this for a second year of support. In addition to this, Tabor Group also offer a Family Support Programme. This programme is designed to help concerned persons of the individual with substance use disorder. It has been our experience that when a family is affected by addiction, the entire family can benefit from support and play a substantial role in their loved one’s recovery. Our Family Support Programme includes education, one-to-one support, peer support groups, telephone support, intervention advice and more.

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