Skip to main content

It’s no secret that there are phases of recovery. As individuals learn new skills along the way, they become more capable of facing the challenges and risks associated with greater independence. That’s why the recovery process is divided into a number of different treatment options that cater to people at different phases. According to experts, recovery happens in six distinct stages. Understanding what each one entails can help professionals map out the appropriate treatment, and helps individuals better understand where they stand and what they need at each step of the way.


The first stage of recovery might not look like recovery at all. During the pre-contemplation phase, a person doesn’t think about their addiction as a problem — that’s why it’s called pre-contemplation. They may come up with reasons to rationalize their drug or alcohol use, and convince themselves that they don’t need help. At this point, individuals may see their substance use as not harmful, or may even come up with reasons as to why their habit might be beneficial to them. They aren’t inclined to accept criticism of their use, and they may even view their substance of choice as a positive, pleasant agent in their life.

There are four types of pre-contemplators in this phase, which includes:

  • Reluctant – They have poor insight regarding their problem and have no motivation or desire to change
  • Rebellious – They cling to their habit as a way to rebel against authority figures that might tell them to give up their use.
  • Resigned – They may somewhat recognize a problem, but they believe that there’s no hope for change and that substance use is the only answer to their present state.
  • Rationalizing – They create a number of illogical reasons to support their idea that substance use isn’t bad for them.


As the addiction progresses, the symptoms of withdrawal can worsen when an individual goes for too long without a fix. So they end up taking doses in close succession to keep their bodies functional. They may also start to notice that they no longer feel as pleasant or satisfied as they used to, forcing them to increase their dose. During the contemplation phase, the financial repercussions of addiction may start to be felt at a more profound level. They may also start to experience negative effects on their health, relationships, and work, forcing them to think about their substance use in a negative light. While individuals at this stage might begin to doubt the benefits of substance use, they have yet to make a decision about whether or not they need to actually stop. They may continue to use to prevent withdrawal, but they may start to consider a life without addiction.


Typically happening after a major event like an overdose, an intervention, or a divorce caused by their addiction, the preparation phase will have the individual feeling committed to change. They’ll start looking into recovery resources as well as treatment options in their area. As they prepare for recovery, they may feel a strong urge to step away and simply continue with their habit to avoid the anxiety and fear of change. But more often than not, those who reach the point of preparation take sure steps towards a drug-free life.


They’ve checked their options, weighed the pros and cons, and have a deeper understanding of the potential risks and outcomes if they continue down the road of addiction. At this phase, individuals take action to begin their journey to sobriety. Action can look different for everyone — some might try to take action on their own. Others attempt cold turkey, especially if they’re dealing with mild addiction. Most often however, individuals will seek help through addiction treatment and recovery centers. The process will typically start with detox to help cleanse the body of residual toxins. This also helps clients overcome the symptoms of withdrawal so they can move on to other stages of recovery with a clear mind free from urges.


The moment an individual steps into a treatment program, they’re in the maintenance phase of the process. This is a stage that’s characterized by a long arduous effort to stay clean. Individuals will require routine treatment like counseling and various therapies to make sure they stay clean. During maintenance, individuals are at the highest risk of relapse. Falling back into old habits and returning to substance use may be a sign that there were unaddressed issues during treatment, requiring clients and therapists to revisit certain areas of emotional, mental, and physical well-being to improve the outcomes of recovery. To prevent relapse, individuals further along in recovery can join sober living homes near me. The best sober living Dallas has to offer provides just enough structure and support while allowing tenants to explore their independence and skills.


This is the phase of recovery that everyone hopes to achieve. At termination, the individual no longer needs any form of traditional treatment, although recovery from addiction is a lifelong effort. They may no longer be involved in a facility for either in or outpatient services, but they could still be part of support groups just to help solidify their resolve. People who have reached this phase of recovery feel empowered and confident. They’re not ashamed of their past, and they recognize the power of their recovery story. They make great mentors for those who are just starting out in their recovery journey and provide valuable insight for professionals hoping to develop a deeper understanding of addiction recovery. Many of those who reach termination may explore their opportunities in a recovery coaching program.

One Step at a Time

There’s a lot more to recovery than meets the eye. Understanding addiction and the many different phases that it has can make it easier to recognize where you stand and what you need. And while a lot of times, it might feel like you’ve got a long way to go, remember that addiction recovery can take time. But it doesn’t matter how slow you go — just as long as you don’t stop.

Learn more about our recovery services or contact us below to discover how Lighthouse Recovery can help you on your road to recovery today. Thank you for your trust.