5 stages of addiction recovery

Understanding The 5 Stages of Addiction Recovery

We tend to think first about the hardship substance use disorder creates for the person suffering from addiction – many times forgetting that their family members and friends are suffering, too.

It’s never easy to watch someone you love battle addiction. But, by understanding the stages of addiction recovery and what your loved one is going through to combat their disease, you can better support them through their journey towards recovery – and better support yourself, as well.

There Are 5 Stages of Addiction Recovery Your Loved One Will Go Through

Every major life change we face follows the path of what experts call “The Five Stages of Change.” Recovery from addiction is a major change and is therefore no different. At each stage of addiction, we move from denial of the addiction to a place of wellbeing and continued recovery.

Understanding the stages of recovery can help family members and loved ones connect with the struggles their parent, child, or friend is facing, and better understand what’s required to overcome a disease as debilitating as addiction.

The 5 Stages of Addiction Recovery:

Stage 1:  Pre-Contemplative

In this first stage of recovery, your loved one likely doesn’t recognize their addiction as an addiction. They don’t believe they have a problem to confront, and they can be very resistant to any conversations that suggest otherwise. Because of this, it’s almost always difficult to have a conversation with the person if they’re in denial or unwilling to recognize the problem.

Most of the time when someone is in the pre-contemplative stage, they’re still suffering from their addiction but haven’t started treatment despite suggestions from family and friends to do so.

In some cases, it may make sense for family and friends to host an intervention to confront the person’s addiction head-on. If they’re open to it, there are opportunities for your loved one to receive an assessment through our Behavioral Health Outpatient Center here at The GateHouse to better understand what’s really going on.

Stage 2: Contemplative

Someone moves from the first stage to the second stage – the contemplative stage – as they begin to identify that they’re suffering from substance use disorder. But, while they’re now aware of the issues surrounding addiction in their life, they’re also having an internal debate about whether they’re willing to change.

During Stage 2, your loved one can struggle to identify which behaviors they need to change to support abstinence. They may not recognize that certain behaviors are undermining their recovery.

This is where The GateHouse enters the process. Most clients who come to The GateHouse have gone through a 90-day treatment program and are in Stage 2.

Our goal in this stage is to raise awareness with our clients about the specific behaviors that fuel their substance abuse and have caused relapses in the past. A person who’s suffering from a substance abuse disorder often makes decisions based on instant gratification. They’ve lost the ability to see the big picture, including the consequences of their actions. In Stage 2, we help them build new insights and objectivity so they can make decisions that better support their long-term goals.

Stage 3: Preparation

This is a pivotal stage in someone’s progression towards lifelong recovery. Stage 3 is the preparation stage. This is when your loved one really starts to gain an awareness of their addiction and identify the specific changes they need to make in order to reach abstinence.

For example, they may recognize the trigger of working at a job around alcohol and determine that they can’t work in a restaurant that serves alcoholic drinks. Or, if they realize that certain family members or friends trigger their substance use, they may think through the boundaries they need to set with those people in their life.

At The GateHouse, our counselors take the lead with clients in the preparation stage. They help clients gain an awareness of their triggers and create a plan for how to change their behavior, so those triggers are no longer in the way of their recovery. They also prepare them with the skills to manage the stress they feel as they move through this stage of change.

Stage 4: Action

Now, it’s about the follow-through. In Stage 4, the action phase, your loved one is ready to take action on the plan they’ve created to move towards lifelong recovery. At this stage, they’re typically employed, abstinent, and just starting to put their plan into action.

Our goal at The GateHouse is to help our clients reach Stage 4 by the time that they’re leaving one of our treatment centers and possibly moving into a recovery house.

However, there are also times when our clients move on while still in the preparation stage. And that’s just fine. Each of our programs is customized to a particular client – there’s no right or wrong treatment plan; just the plan that’s right for that individual.

Stage 5: Maintenance

After taking action, maintaining sobriety and the journey through lifelong recovery is the final stage. It’s here that we encourage our clients to take part in our outpatient services and stay involved with a community of men and women who understand the journey they’re on and can provide support along the way. Again, every client has different needs which is why we have multiple outpatient services, including intensive outpatient treatment, general outpatient treatment, and partial hospitalization treatment.

The need for support and community doesn’t end once the maintenance stage is reached. For many men and women recovering from substance abuse, it may be more important than ever.

One way we’re supporting our clients as they maintain their recovery is through The GateHouse Alumni & Friends Association. Here, people can keep the community connections they created in treatment that became so vital to the start of their recovery journey.

Your Loved One May Flow Back and Forth Between These Stages as They Head Towards Recovery

Despite the way we think about The 5 Stages of Recovery, these stages aren’t necessarily linear. Recovery is a lifelong process that takes work and determination. Your loved one may begin to prepare to make changes, but some days shift back into the contemplative stage as they consider the huge changes that recovery will bring to their life.

That’s okay. And it’s what our team at The GateHouse is here for. We work to help each of our clients navigate their own, personal road to lifelong recovery, no matter how long and windy it may be.

We create a support system for each of our clients to break the cycle of substance abuse and get them on a path towards recovery. We make sure that appropriate interventions are made at any level of care based on the client’s stage of change.  Whether they need our Residential Extended Care program, a transitional living environment, or outpatient support, we are here for them.

Every step is individualized so our clients receive the best care for their personal needs.

When you and your loved one are ready to discuss a treatment plan and start to work towards long-term recovery, our team will be here ready to support you on your journey.

The GateHouse offers addiction treatment services for long-term addiction recovery with locations throughout Lancaster County, PA. We’d love to help you with your next step in recovery. Reach out to us today!



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