The 5 Stages of Addiction Recovery
Just as each person in the world is unique, so is everyone’s experience with addiction. No two people will share the exact same road to developing their addiction, and likewise the path to recovery will be equally as diverse. This is because addiction and recovery vary based on many factors, both external and internal.
Some of these influencing elements include:
- Prior drug use
- Type of drug
- Duration of addiction
- Family history
Nonetheless, while the experience is different, for most people it can still be analyzed and broken down into a progression of stages. While specialists identify seven stages for developing an addiction, they map out five stages for recovery. Knowing the steps is valuable for helping a recovering addict on their journey to sobriety.
These five steps are:
- Exploring Recovery
- Early Recovery
- Active Recovery and Maintenance
While there are only 5 stages, recovering from addiction is a process, and support and encouragement are essential for ongoing success. It can feel impossible to quit a drug once a user has developed a substance use disorder, but with the help of the experienced and dedicated team at Brookdale, a life…recovered is always possible.
Stage 1: Awareness
An addict starts their recovery process by becoming aware that their substance abuse is a problem and deciding to do something about it. For this reason, this step is sometimes alternately called “recognition” or “acknowledgement.” Regardless of its name, the key component is that the addict, not a friend or family member, admits there is a problem that needs to be solved and develops a desire to make it happen.
In many cases, this stage is triggered by what is called a crisis event, which is an impactful moment that forces the addict to face the facts of their substance use disorder and recognize how dangerous it has become. This event can be a dangerous incident like a car crash from driving drunk, or it can be emotional, such as a partner or close friend leaving. In either case, the event is a wake-up call that washes away any delusion that the addiction is not affecting others, spurring the individual to reflect on their life and make a change.
By itself, Stage 1 does not break the individual away from their substance abuse, but it is a pivotal moment that is crucial for starting the recovery process.
Stage 2: Consideration
Once an addict has recognized that their drug use is a problem, the next step is for them to reflect further on their life and begin to research more about addiction. This can be to understand how it happened to them, how strong its hold can be, and most importantly, what can be done to escape it. At this stage, the user will have a clearer understanding than before and seek to learn more about the damage they caused, and the lives of family, friends and colleagues.
While the individual may not be making any direct recovery effort at this point such as entering a rehab program, it is still important for them to better understand the power of their addiction. This allows them to realize that they need outside help to overcome their addiction, and that the opportunities for a safe recovery do indeed exist.
Stage 3: Exploring Recovery
After the addict has acknowledged their addiction and taken more time to learn about it, it becomes time for them to begin figuring out what their options are for getting help. This can happen in multiple ways, such as talking with friends and family that have been in their position before or doing more research online. At this stage, recovery moves from reflection, research and desire to actively starting down the road to becoming drug-free. Stage 3 is where many addicts decide to visit a rehab center to explore the possibility or even take the leap and enter a rehab program.
In some cases, the stage is also referred to as the preparation phase for recovery. This is because it is here where the addict begins setting goals and making a genuine action plan to end their addiction. Doing this helps to strengthen their resolve, and experts recommend that addicts take their time in this stage. More time spent preparing gives them more motivation to overcome the challenges that are to come.
Stage 4: Early Recovery
If the addict has not already entered a rehab center, this happens at the beginning of Stage 4, which is characterized by the individual putting their recovery plan into action and making the effort to see it through. The first step of this will be choosing what kind of recovery program would be best for them. There are many different options to choose from, but the most effective of these is known as inpatient care, which is when the patient resides at the facility while receiving treatment.
In most scenarios, treatment begins with a process known as detoxification, also known as detox. During detox, all addictive substances are carefully removed from the patient’s body, under the supervision of qualified medical professionals. Due to the adverse side effects associated with withdrawal, it is imperative to undergo this process in a medical setting. When attempting detox alone, it can be quite difficult, and sometimes, very dangerous.
Thankfully, when withdrawal occurs at a rehab center, the medical team can help mitigate uncomfortable and painful symptoms, through various medical and clinical interventions. While these interventions vary depending on the rehab facility you choose, some solutions include medication, clinical therapy and holistic approaches, such as yoga and meditation. In most cases, the most severe withdrawal symptoms pass within three to four days, although more moderate symptoms can persist for weeks after, as the body readjusts to life with drugs and alcohol.
In cases of severe withdrawal, such as alcoholism or opioid addiction, the staff may utilize specific medications that lessen the effects of withdrawal, in order to make the process less dangerous. If not for these, the recovery process could easily become dangerous thanks to the severity of the addiction.
Once detox has been completed and broken the physical dependency of a substance, the patient can then undergo therapy to better understand the underlying causes of their addiction and how to tackle obstacles outside of treatment. This stage of care is known as residential treatment. It is also during this time that patients will work with a therapist and other clinical support staff to develop habits and skills that will become necessary for overcoming triggers and avoiding relapse. The exact nature of this therapy will vary based on each patient’s individual needs, ensuring that they are given the best chance for success, but some therapies may include, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing, relapse prevention, 12-Step integration, skill-building, yoga, and meditation.
Stage 5: Active Recovery and Maintenance
As addiction is a chronic and progressive brain disease, there is no way to completely cure it. Instead, the most that can be done is to help a person overcome their substance abuse and provide them with the necessary tools to maintain abstinence on a daily basis. Up until this point, the addict and staff at a rehab facility have been working towards this goal. By the time Stage 5 begins, the individual will have put in much effort to overcome their substance use disorder and have received the necessary tools to begin recovery.
Recovery is an active process however, which means that it will be ongoing for the rest of the individual’s life. The temptation to use drugs or drink alcohol may always be a possibility and recovering individuals must learn how to address their thoughts and behaviors that influence their addiction. This can sound like a daunting task, but thankfully over time and with the help they received during rehab, they will be better prepared to manage it than ever before.
To make this stage easier, it is important for addicts to have a support system in place, not only for times of difficulty, but also in times of success and everyday living. Before leaving rehab, every patient should receive a customized aftercare plan that is conducive to their recovery efforts. This can include a variety of options, but some common features of an aftercare plan include intensive outpatient counseling, vocational resources, family therapy and introduction into a local recovering community, such as AA or NA. This comprehensive plan is essential in Stage 5, as the support and empathy of others allows the individual to maintain their recovery goals.
In Need of Substance Abuse Treatment?
If you or someone you love is currently battling a fight against addiction, Brookdale Addiction Recovery can help.
Through a patient-centric approach to treatment, our program will provide you or your loved with the individualized care you need to begin your life…recovered. With various treatment options and modalities, including detoxification, residential treatment, 12-Step integration, family therapy, holistic approaches and comprehensive aftercare planning, each patient receives the necessary tools to overcome substance abuse and begin living a life full of meaning and purpose.
To learn more about our program or to speak with an Admissions Specialist today, please call us at (855) 575-1292.