What Stage of Recovery Are You in?
Authored by Audra Franchini
Much like addiction treatment, there is no one-size-fits-all way to recovery. While some individuals achieve recovery through residential inpatient, others participate in outpatient counseling, or leverage medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
Whatever gets you to recovery is your unique path.
But growth and progress don’t stop once you’re in recovery. As you make your way through recovery, you’ll likely experience different stages.
1. “I don’t have a problem”
According to well-know alcoholism researcher Dr. Carlo C. DiClemente, when someone is in the precontemplation stage, they will likely feel one or more of the 4 RS:
- Reluctant to consider change
- Rebellious when they feel they’re being told what to do
- Resigned and given up hope in the possibility of change
- Rationalized why their drinking or drug use isn’t a problem
Even if the person acts reluctant or rebellious, doubt begins to build and they start to wonder if there may be a problem.
“No matter how dark the night may get, your light will never burn out.” – Jeanette LeBlanc
2. “I have a disease”
Becoming aware that there’s a problem, whether it’s through a tough conversation with family members or a true awakening such as job loss or legal problems, is often the first step in recovery. This could be rock bottom for some or a jolting moment of reality for others.
Even if the person is still in active addiction, the early acknowledgment of the disease is setting the stage for recovery. Eventually, the simple awareness of a problem being present will shift to an awareness that treatment is needed.
“When you can stop, you don’t want to. And when you want to stop, you can’t. That’s addiction.”- Luke Davies
3. “I need to do something”
This is the stage where the person takes the next step towards change. While it looks different for everyone, it may involve the person checking into an inpatient facility, considering MAT, changing their environment to get away from unhealthy people, places, or things, or even just the commitment to do something.
No one has a say in their addiction – it’s a disease. What they do have a say in: Seeking treatment.
Not only does this lay the groundwork for recovery, but it also starts to revive something the person likely lost – values, confidence, self-worth. It’s that small spark of relief of finally taking a step towards change.
Of course, hardly anything that’s worth it comes easy. It’s a vulnerable time; they have to put their true selves out there for everyone to see, flaws and all. It’s likely the first time they’re going to be honest with their loved ones and themselves.
But the overwhelming feeling of relief and satisfaction that comes along with this revelation of true self propels people to the next step.
“The worst part about anything that’s self-destructive is that it’s so intimate. You become so close with your addictions and illnesses that leaving them behind is like killing the part of yourself that taught you how to survive.” Lacey L.
4. “I need to find my new self”
After detoxification, the mental work of addiction treatment begins. At Recovery Centers of America, we treat all aspects of the disease of addiction. That means our patients and their clinical team will dive into possible reasons contributing to the addiction. For some, this could be a lingering trauma, being an older adult and not receiving specialized care, or the difficult situations that come along with being a first responder.
This is where specialized care makes a huge difference. To increase the likelihood of achieving and maintaining sobriety, addiction treatment should mold to your needs, not the other way around.
With that said, that doesn’t mean patients come in and bare it all. Rather, our team of clinicians will work with each patient to see if there’s anything that could be fueling an addiction, such as trauma or multiple attempts at recovery. Then we address that alongside the addiction.
“Before you can break out of prison, you must realize you are locked up.” – Donna Cardillo
5. “I need to stay strong”
If you’re in this stage of recovery, you know this is true: Recovery isn’t a destination. It is a constant journey, one where you have to remain vigilant and strong. Follow up programs, such as partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient and general outpatient, can help ease someone back into their lives. This way, their recovery is still their top priority, but they’re also working on getting back into a routine.
The key here: Not becoming complacent.
Staying involved in support groups, such as an alumni recovery group, can help keep someone engaged in their recovery, as well as continuing to seek support from family members and staying active in the recovery community. And while hurdles will happen in life, it’s important to take some time to pause, reflect on successes and techniques that have worked in the past, and reground in the moment.
“One step at a time. One day at a time. One hour at a time.”
- Not thinking about changing behavior
- Don’t see addiction as a problem
“I don’t need help!”
“I’m not addicted!”
“I can stop any time!”
- Aware of personal consequences of addiction
- Spend time thinking about the problem
“Maybe I do have a porblem”
“I might actually feel better if I stopped”
- made a commitment to change
“I need professional help”
“I am ready to make a change in my life”
- Believe in the ability to change
- Actively take steps to change
“I am putting my treatment plan into
action every single day”
- Avoid temptation and relaspe
“I now have the knowledge and tools
needed to achieve lasting sobriety”