Substance abuse is a devastating behavioral and mental health problem. It used to be viewed as a result of a person’s character, but thankfully, that’s no longer the case. Ample research has shown that addiction is an illness, which is good news because illnesses can be treated.
With treatment, many who suffer from substance use disorders can find ways to stop using drugs or alcohol and return to living normal, productive, and satisfying lives. This article will outline the treatment and recovery process to make it easier for addicts and their loved ones to understand that help is available and change is possible.
Stage One: Precontemplation
Every recovering addict starts as someone actively struggling with substance abuse. These people are in the precontemplation stage, in which they have little insight into the negative impacts of their behaviors and don’t have a strong desire to change or believe they can. In reality, though, anyone can enter recovery.
Stage Two: Contemplation
The process of recovering from substance abuse begins with the contemplation stage. People in this stage are beginning to notice the negative consequences of their substance use and to see a need for change. Most people in the contemplation stage are not ready to enter treatment yet, but they may be open to hearing about what recovery could look like.
Stage Three: Preparation
During the preparation stage, soon-to-be-recovering addicts begin to experience a sense of urgency regarding the desire to get treatment. They may have made some steps towards attempting to quit, already and often go for a day or two without using their substances of choice. Now is also the stage where people are most likely to begin researching treatment facilities, determining how to change, and asking for support.
Stage Four: Action
The action stage can begin once someone decides what changes to make. This often includes entering detox, attending rehab, and attending support groups. Not everyone is trying to quit using substances entirely, so some may only make smaller changes to their daily habits and routines, such as reducing exposure to relapse triggers. Either way, people in the action stage require ongoing help to make and commit to change. Self-care and self-awareness can help, but counseling is a must for staying the course and avoiding relapse.
Stage Five: Maintenance
During the maintenance stage, the recovering addict works hard to prevent relapse and keep up positive lifestyle changes that help them stay sober. Their confidence begins to rise, and they believe that it’s possible to maintain long-term sobriety as urges to use become less frequent and less intense. Although the maintenance stage can begin as early as six months into the recovery process, most people must commit to at least 2 to 5 years of sobriety to break their habits.
Stage Six: Termination
Termination is when a person’s desire to go back to abusing their substances of choice diminishes to the point where it no longer governs their lives or even stops completely. Not everyone enters the termination stage. While some people’s cravings completely disappear, others remain in the maintenance stage for the recovery process. However, most people do recover.
The Importance of Seeking Professional Help
People struggling with substance use disorders rarely change to long-term sobriety alone. Most need help and support, not just from their loved ones but also from experienced and knowledgeable addiction treatment professionals.