I offer the Stages of Addiction Recovery to guide the way towards health…

Stages of Recovery

As far as I know, I am the first to develop and publish a “stages of addiction recovery.”  I’ll let my readers review the image contained in this article on their own, but I do want to explain why I put them together.  All too often, people assume that “recovery” is the process through which addicts stop using their substance (or process) of abuse. However, I developed these “stages” as a way to both understand the needed consciousness expansion and to better evaluate where a person stands with respect to his/her recovery.  I do not see addiction recovery as an either/or relationship between an addict and the substance of abuse; that is, I don’t think addicts simply become healthy by virtue of not using a substance.  Nor do I think an addict is strictly unhealthy because he/she uses (abuses) a substance.

More and more, theidea of recovery capital is gaining credence.  Recovery capital is a collection of resources that can be applied along the path towards recovery.  My stages of recovery also recognize -that a person must expand his/her vision of life from the single-minded pursuit of a substance to rebuilding and maintaining healthy relationships with both self and others.  This expansion reflects an ongoing process and, really, the deeper the addiction, the more complex the solution.  With more complexity comes a far bigger need for resources.

Which is why evaluating someone’s recovery is necessary, especially for clinicians who need to acquire and apply recovery capital.  When someone is in the “recognition” stage, he/she will probably need far more resources (and counselor intervention is a resource, for example) than will someone in the “independence” stage.  Furthermore, it becomes far easier to “meet a client where he/she is at” when there’s some kind of guide to which clinicians can turn for some kind of framework.

I do hope these stages are useful; the reality is that something is better than nothing.  Addiction treatment can be like climbing out of a dark cave without much light to guide the way.  The stages I developed have been useful for me and I honestly believe in their value…

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The Stages of Recovery from Addiction

I’ve written about the Stages of Addiction, the Stages of Change, and the Substance Abuse Spectrum. However, I was challenged with the idea of the “Stages of Recovery from an Addiction” from someone visiting my blog. Really, there isn’t a lot in the literature about recovery stages; it appears that the Stages of Change model serves as the model for all behavioral changes, including recovery.

But, that’s just not good enough for me. Though no one’s recovery is the same, and although there are all kinds of treatment models to treat Addiction, there is definitely a pattern within someone’s behavior who is recovering from an addiction. Therefore I propose the following four (4) Stages of Substance Addiction Recovery (each item is a hallmark behavior that indicates the stage):

  1. Recognition Stage
    1. Acknowledgment of substance’s detriment
    2. Former gains no longer achieved
    3. Purpose no longer served
  2. Experimental Stage
    1. “Dabbles” in abstinence
    2. Attempts to understand the addiction through relapse
    3. Begins to see value in a life without substances
  3. Growth Stage
    1. Seeks to rebuild healthy relationships
    2. Looks for activities in which to participate that are not substance-related
    3. Substance use diminishes
    4. Develops resources for managing negative emotions
  4. Independence Stage
    1. Acceptance of self and past behaviors without self-judgement
    2. Conscious approach to day to day life
    3. Substance no longer sought/used compulsively
    4. Maintains skills for emotional regulation

As is the case for all “Stage Models,” I propose these four (4) stages not as a linear and absolute process, but as a continuum through which people in recovery progress on their way towards a healthy life. Also, each stage presents a clinical backdrop for goal and value building exercises. These four (4) stages are a living entity that I hope to continue developing and building. I welcome any thoughts or challenges about/to it such that I can beef it up and strengthen it.