What are the 5 Stages of Addiction Recovery?

stages of recovery

The 5 stages of addiction recovery are related to the 5 stages of change. 

  • Precontemplation
  • Contemplation
  • Preparation
  • Action
  • Maintenance

Almost no one can doubt the challenge of recovering from alcohol and drug addiction. A difficult and often a long hard road, the process requires courage and grit. However, knowing what lies ahead can help prepare you for 5 stages of addiction recovery. 

From experience, you already know that your situation cannot improve on its own. With guidance from skilled counselors, you can find a path through the stages of addiction recovery.

How do I prepare for the change process?

Action State

Research has shown five steps will help you in this process. 

While it may seem unfamiliar, the stages of recovery they suggest start with the Precontemplation Stage and the Contemplation Stage. Then they find that the next three stages of addiction recovery include Preparation, Action and Maintenance. 

These stages of change can also assist with other aspects of your life as well. 

What happens in the Precontemplation Stage?

In Stage One before you enter treatment, you do not agree that you have a problem. You may even defend your use of drugs or alcohol. Everything remains the same as usual when you have not started to think about changing your behavior. 

Everyday wisdom states that you cannot solve a problem until you admit that you have one. In the Precontemplation Stage, you think everyone else makes a mistake if they think you have an issue with alcohol or drugs.

As you defend against suggestions by your friends and family to get help, you may choose to ignore their concerns. When you do not focus your attention on quitting, you do not want to discuss it. Some people may say that your denial prevents you from seeing the situation as they do. If you try to help someone deal with a substance use disorder, you can see the difficulty of making a point. If you have suffered from addiction, your friends may feel that way too.

How does the Contemplation Stage work?

In Stage Two, you start to get a hint of what people mean when they express concerns for your welfare. You may begin to think about the effects on your body and the relationships that your substance use disorder can create.

Even though you do not want to do anything about it just yet, you may start thinking about it. Far from feeling the same way every day, you like the idea on some days and not others.

Stage Two gives you time to compare the pros of quitting to the cons. While you may think your bad habits need changing, you do not think the result justifies the effort. In the in-between that separates the pros from the cons, the thought of quitting does not appeal to you. Even the possibility of reducing use does not seem right on some days. It may take a couple of weeks to move through Stage Two. 

However, every time you learn something about your habit, it opens your mind to considering the stages of addiction recovery.

What benefits do I get from the Preparation Stage?

As you may imagine, Stage Three lets you move out of the undecided stages where you spent some time. When you figure out that the burden you carry does not deserve your time or attention, you accept the facts before you. 

Some ways of saying that you want to change may occur in conversations with your friends. If you say that you know you must do something, it shows a positive attitude about the stages of addiction recovery. 

You may even say it to yourself when no one else can hear you.

The small confessions that you make silently or aloud show signs of doubt about your habit. It proves that you have thoughts about stopping. A new urge to learn more about the stages of addiction recovery may lead you to call an addiction treatment center or look online for information. 

Stage Three can provide a more important step than you know. For sure, do not bypass it as many people do. A major change to your lifestyle requires careful decisions. When you do the research, it helps you accept what it takes to make a healthy change to the way you live.

What do I get out of the Action State?

Preparation Stage

In Stage Four, you begin to believe you can make a change that benefits you. As a huge step that moves you forward in a big way, you can enjoy making a great decision. You deserve the pride that comes with believing in yourself. It can boost your spirit and make you want to do more. During this stage, you may spend several months making efforts to depend on your willpower to pull you through.

However, other people can run through it quickly. As you make true attempts to quit or change things, you run the risk of relapse more than ever.

Different ways to handle behavior during the Action State depend on the influences that affect you. As you prepare to deal with the challenges you face, slips may occur no matter how hard you try.

The pressures that weigh on you make it hard to stay on your path. At this point in recovery, many people choose to get help from someone who knows how to do it.

What can I expect from the Maintenance Stage?

You reach Stage Five in the stages of addiction recovery when you succeed in avoiding temptations that put you back into your old habit. After achieving so much and working very hard, you deserve to enjoy your new status. It may help to think about the progress you made and what it took to get you here. Some people think of safeguards that can help prevent a relapse. When you can anticipate situations that make you want to return to your habit, you can plan a way around them.

Patience can help you know that your decision to quit gave you a better life. Letting go of old habits takes time, and it may take even more to form new ones. You can benefit from sticking with them until they suit you perfectly. Stage Five has challenges of its own, and you may not make it through the first time.

How do these stages relate to addiction recovery?

The stages track perfectly with the feelings that come with addiction recovery. As you review the defense of your habit as nothing to worry about, you may see that it makes no sense. However, you must go through it to get to the next stage. A complete denial turns into signs of acceptance that a problem may damage your health and hinder relationships.

As you slowly move from one stage to the next in the stages of addiction recovery, it moves you closer to achieving your goal. That does not mean that you can stop defending yourself against temptation. Everyone has an ebb and flow in achieving progress, and normal behavior produces it. However, you can find satisfaction in putting decisions into action. After that, you can maintain your newfound freedom.

How does the Transtheoretical Model help me?

As a path to achieving sobriety, the Model guides you through changes in behavior that can help you. Before you start, it can measure your willingness to find a different way to conduct your life.

When you find something that can predict success in anything, it probably deserves at least a try. Research shows that the Transtheoretical Model works for at-risk populations. The basis of the Model claims that stages of change that occur in a sequence help people make the transition.

With the time required to move through the 5 stages of addiction recovery, you get to avoid any harsh effects. Everyone knows that change takes time, and it requires prep work. Slowly, you become ready to make the progress that helps you recover.

What sort of treatment options give me the best chance to recover?


Treatment options that respect the hard task of recovering from addiction can make your life a lot easier. No longer do you face a struggle alone.

Residential Recovery Program

In a home-like atmosphere, you get to live in a residence with others who have issues like yours. The support you receive from them and your counselors can ease the burden you carry.

When you choose residential rehab, you can get 24/7 help with learning to live without drugs or alcohol. All of your treatment focuses on your safety, security and support around the clock. In a setting that you share with peers, you find that you do not stand alone.

A burden that someone else helps you carry can make it weigh half as much. However, inpatient care may take you out of a comfortable situation. When you do things differently, you may gain benefits greater than you expect.

Inpatient Care

You can receive many of the same options as an inpatient as in residential recovery. Still, it provides some important differences. In a hospital-like setting, the structure of inpatient care provides the support you may prefer. If you have faced the pain of relapse, you may benefit from inpatient care. Later, you can move to a drug treatment program as another option.

Outpatient Care

An option that may not work as well as residential or inpatient, outpatient care provides benefits too. It lets you stay at home with your family or go to work and meet the duties that you must.

Finding Help

At Discovery Institute, our specialists can help you achieve your stages of recovery goals. We understand the challenges you face, and we can help you through them. Contact us to get started on achieving a better life.