A person’s readiness to change is represented by five stages of change: Pre-Contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, and Maintenance. Many people move through these stages in order, but it is also common for people to move back and forth between various stages in the journey towards recovery.


  • Precontemplation: People in this stage are not worried about their use and they are not ready to admit there is a problem.


  • Contemplation: In this stage, the person might start seeing the consequences or realize they are in danger. They begin to look at what changing might mean.


  • Preparation: This stage is when a person realizes that change is necessary and commits.


  • Action: A change in behavior starts in this stage which is characterized by prolonged periods of commitment when a person will engage in treatment.


  • Maintenance: During the maintenance stage, the individual is working hard to prevent reoccurrence or returning to use. The changes have become part of day-to-day routines and recovery begins.


The path to change is hard and takes time and effort. Remember substance use disorder is a chronic disease and like other many chronic diseases the risk of occurrence or reoccurrence is always present. Both provide an opportunity for a person to learn more about themselves, what triggers them, or what challenges them, and provides opportunities for growth.



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