Tackling the Stages of Addiction Recovery
Treating addiction is a lengthy process, and it is one that consists of many different stages. In order to achieve maximum health and sobriety that can last, it is important to work through these various stages. Learning about the stages can help individuals get a better understanding of what recovery entails and how it will progress.
The Contemplation Stage
For many people who struggle with addiction, the first step to recovery will be what is sometimes known as the contemplation stage. This is a time when individuals will start to question their actions, their behaviors and their health.
Typically, those who are in the contemplation stage aren’t ready yet to acknowledge that they are addicted to any drug or substance. However, they may be starting to think about whether that is a possibility.
Things that might not have been noticed in the past are now beginning to stand out to people in the contemplation stage. Individuals might see that others around them act and feel differently, or they might feel frustrated with their reliance on an addictive substance.
For many people, denial is a necessary component of addiction. In order to survive, they need to deny that the addiction is real. During the contemplation stage, however, the curtain gets pulled back. People begin to be self aware about what they are and what it means.
The Action Stage
The next stage of recovery is often called the action stage or the acknowledgement stage. For individuals struggling with addiction, this is when they can first begin to say, “I am an addict.” This acknowledgement can be very freeing, and it also sets the tone for further action.
For many people, the acknowledgement of addiction is the turning point for making a change. A person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, and can finally see that for themselves, might be ready to begin a detox and participate in addiction treatment
Sometimes, people are propelled to the action stage on their own. They might be in an accident or have a legal issue that pushes them to action, or they might have a health scare or a relationship concern that demands attention. Sometimes, however, individuals are put in the action stage by others. An intervention or a concerned word from a loved one can be what it takes for some people to decide to take action and get treatment.
The Early Treatment Stage
The early treatment stage begins with individuals who opt to formally seek help and enroll in some kind of addiction treatment program. Often, the primary focus of early treatment is helping patients break their chemical and physical ties with an addictive substance. For that reason, the early treatment stage may be known as detox or withdrawal.
The early treatment stage can be difficult, and it will often be accompanied by withdrawal symptoms. It is stressful for the body to relearn how to function without its addictive substance of choice, and it may cause unpleasant or uncomfortable side effects. The good news is that this stage only typically lasts one to two weeks, depending on the addiction in question.
It is critical that during this stage, individuals are supervised around the clock. It can be incredibly dangerous to try to detox, or go through withdrawal, without medical attention. Medical treatment does more than just increase comfort, although that is an added bonus. It can also reduce the risks of serious health problems and diagnose any extreme symptoms of withdrawal before they progress.
The Late Treatment Stage
Once individuals have detoxed from their addictive substances, the real work to maintain sobriety can begin. The late treatment stage is characterized by a range of treatment methods designed to get to the root of addiction. Some of the approaches used may include dual diagnosis, behavioral therapy, group therapy or experiential therapy.
Dual diagnosis is a critical part of addiction recovery for many individuals. Mental health and addiction are closely linked, and as many as half of those with diagnosable addictions also struggle with mental illness. Dual diagnosis treatment addresses both concerns simultaneously, ensuring that mental health won’t interfere with a full recovery from addiction.
There are many types of therapy that can be used to treat addiction. Group therapy, for instance, helps patients feel less isolated, and it can create a welcome environment of sharing experiences and tips. Individual behavioral therapy is also effective, and it can include things like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy may try to change behavior and mindset to prevent self-destructive actions and thoughts.
Experiential therapy treatment can also help individuals confront their feelings and push the limits of what they think is possible. Through unusual and exciting activities, participants can boost their self confidence. Alternative, holistic approaches can also contribute to a bedrock of evidence-based approaches to addiction recovery during the late treatment stage.
The Ongoing Care and Maintenance Stage
It is vital to note that even after individuals complete a residential or outpatient treatment program, the recovery process isn’t over. Addiction is a lifelong illness, and it requires continuing care.
After a person is diagnosed and treated for something like diabetes or cancer, they can’t expect to live life completely normally and never need another check-up or dose of medicine. Similarly, those who struggle with addiction will need to include care and maintenance in their daily lives.
A support network is a critical element of lasting care and ongoing maintenance. For some people, family members and close friends can form a supportive network. For others, anonymous group meetings and mentors can provide that level of support. Regular meetings as well as therapy sessions can be helpful to maintain sobriety.
In addition, individuals need to understand that addiction necessitates complete sobriety. A person who was addicted to opiates or alcohol can never safely use those substances again.
In order to recover from addiction in a lasting way, individuals need to work through each of these stages of addiction recovery on their route to healthy, happy and sober lives.