A journey to curing addiction is not easy. Substances such as alcohol and drugs change the chemical activities in the brain, making it difficult to leave them. However, you can achieve complete sobriety with careful planning and persistent effort.
Curing Addiction: Is Complete Recovery Possible?
There is no doubt that many people fall into relapse after an addiction recovery attempt. On their first attempt, people often fail to change their deeply ingrained habits, such as smoking or eating poorly. Most, however, succeed after numerous attempts.
Ultimately, addiction is a disorder that is highly treatable and can eventually be overcome. Nevertheless, you must understand the stages of recovery, figure out which stage you are in, and find a way out accordingly.
The Stages of Addiction Recovery:
According to two renowned addiction researchers, Carlo C and J. O. Prochaska, there are six stages of curing addiction. Understanding each of these stages help both patient and professionals to understand their issue on a deeper level and personalize the treatment accordingly.
- Stage 1: Pre-contemplation (Denial or Ignorance Stage)
Pre-contemplation is the earliest and the most difficult stage of curing addiction. People in this stage do not find anything wrong with their behavior and are not ready to go for any rehab program.
Fortunately, there are several treatment centers in the US like Serenity at Summit that aim to educate addicts about the negative association of substance abuse on physical and mental health. As per their observation, there are different reasons people stay in the pre-contemplation stage.
- They are unaware that they are suffering from addiction
- They don’t like being told what to do and keep using drugs
- They don’t feel that substance abuse is an issue
- They feel like there is no cure for them
Tips for Getting out of the Pre-contemplation Phase:
If you see that your loved one is in the Pre-contemplation stage, know that they are in the denial and ignorance phase. Therefore, you will need to adopt the following strategies to move them from pre-contemplation to the contemplation stage:
- Identify the triggers and what got them into addiction in the first place
- Convince them to attend awareness programs
- Build trust, persuading them that sobriety is a possibility
- Shift their focus from the cons to the pros of the behavior change
- Stage 2: Contemplation (Conflicting Stage)
Contemplation is also known as the Conflicting Stage since the person is mindful of their problem and wants to change but is not ready to leave the drug yet. Unlike the pre-contemplation stage, the person is aware of the pros of sobriety. However, it comes with a higher cost.
When trying to give up the addiction, the person in the Contemplation Stage faces several challenges, including psychological dependence, mood swings, irritation, withdrawal symptoms, and excessive craving. This, ultimately, results in either two of the following conditions:
- The addict remains in the Contemplation Stage for months, or even years
- They may revert to the Pre-contemplation Stage
How to Progress from Contemplation to Preparation Stage?
Most people never get past the Ambivalent Phase because of their struggles at this level. However, if you follow some careful strategies along with the help of your family and professionals, you can gear up for the next stage. These include:
- Identify the barriers and struggles associated with the withdrawal
- Avoid the triggers
- Join Support Groups
- Keep motivating yourself through success stories
- Communicate with your family that you have a problem and ask for their support
- Stage 3: Preparation (Determination Stage)
Once you get past the Contemplation Stage, you are halfway towards achieving sobriety. At this point, you finally admit that leading an addicted lifestyle is unhealthy and start preparing to change yourself for the better.
The Determination Stage is not only about making a positive impact on one’s own life but also those around them. A person seeking help needs support and encouragement from friends, partners, and family members along the road to recovery.
You become more proactive regarding substance abuse issues as you learn about new treatment options.
Getting sober at home or seeking professional help is entirely your choice. You can begin with small steps such as joining a gym, seeing a counselor, or trying to quit addiction on your own without going to a treatment center.
- Stage 4: Action
Stage 4 is about adopting a change finally and remaining committed to it. The Action stage lasts for about three to six months. You may start attending the support group sessions or counseling sessions regularly, beginning outpatient treatment, or enrolling in the 12-step rehab program. Similarly, you will see the positive impact on different aspects of your life, such as improved routine, peaceful sleep, more productivity, and improved relationship.
- Stage 5: Maintenance / Relapse
The Maintenance phase is about keeping up with the new changes and forgetting old patterns. If you intend to move forward with the new patterns adopted during the Action stage, the chances of a successful termination of addiction increase twofold.
However, you should remember that relapse can easily occur during the maintenance phase. If that happens, don’t be pessimistic or too hard on yourself. Rather, acknowledge your efforts, considering it a minor setback. Minor relapses are common, so make sure that you don’t let them hinder your progress.
The Maintenance stage can last anywhere from six months to five years, depending on the genes, experiences, and severity of the addiction. Some people need six months of abstinence before settling into the new lifestyle. However, to truly break habits and permanently change them, most people need to make a two to five-year commitment.
- Stage 6: Termination
The last stage which everyone aims to achieve is termination. Addiction Termination is a phase where you no longer feel the need for the drug, nor do the triggers threaten you.
You have regained your sobriety and have now adapted to a new lifestyle. Though staying sober is a life-long process, a typical Termination stage reveals improved health, broken unhealthy bonds, and stable employment.
The six stages of healing can indeed feel overwhelming and confusing at times. In any case, the good news is they make recovering from addiction easier and more enjoyable. Simplifying addiction recovery into six stages makes it easier to understand for non-addiction specialists. Furthermore, you can create a plan that works for you or a loved one by understanding each phase of your addiction recovery.