All types of recovery tend to undergo certain phases, because change truly doesn’t happen overnight. Recovery is a gradual process that involves highs and lows, with instances of taking a few steps back – as well as a few steps forward – from time to time. Whether you’re reading to get started on recovery from substances or you’re a friend or family member who wants to be more supportive, understanding the gradual changes of recovery can help ease your mind as far as what you can expect. Of course, recovery is experienced differently by everyone, because we all have different genetic makeups, addiction intensities, mental health statuses and more. However, the steps are typically experienced by everyone – even if they come in a different order.
Stage 1: Pre-Contemplation – this is where everyone begins, and it starts with not even recognizing that a problem exists. Friends and family may tell a person they have a problem, but to that person, nothing is wrong.
Stage 2: Contemplation – by this time, a person has started to become weary of the symptoms they’re experiencing. They’re tired of feeling “stuck” in whatever loop they’re in, and they want to potentially do something about it – they just aren’t quite sure yet what that “something” is.
Stage 3: Preparation – individuals are now ready to make a change, and they’re making small, final adjustments to ensure that they’re ready for this. They may still be a little hesitant – but they’re much more “on board” than before.
Stage 4: Action – a person is changing their surroundings and their behavior. For many people in addiction recovery, this means they’ve sought out help. This stage requires the most commitment and energy, and it’s a wonderful feeling for those in recovery to hear others comment on their progress.
Stage 5: Maintenance – the cycle of “change” never ends, so it’s important for a person to maintain their recovery even long after formal treatment has ended. If maintenance isn’t kept, a person may fall back into Stage 1 or 2 of the cycles.
Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.