Battling and recovering from addiction is a long-term process. It requires work, support, mental and physical strength, and dedication and commitment. Often relapse happens after a few short days of quitting substance use.
Saying that the recovery process is the same for each person is like saying everyone deals with sadness and happiness the same way. Each individual handles how they deal with the stages of addiction and recovery differently. Overcoming addiction can be difficult and painful. However, understanding the stages of addiction recovery and staying focused ensures a successful sobriety.
What is Addiction Recovery?
Addiction recovery can be hard to explain since each person is different and has different needs to recover. Some may see addiction recovery as what happens when an addict stops using drugs or alcohol, as a long-term process that begins before deciding to quit their addiction, and a chance to regain their freedom and rebuild their lives. However, some may see addiction recovery as a type of prison or jail where they have lost their freedom and are now robbed of what they considered their aid in coping with everyday life.
No single definition can accurately define recovery, but it can be agreed that recovery is not just stopping the use of drugs or alcohol. If that is all recovery is, then addicts would not struggle as bad and would be in recovery long before their addiction got out of hand. Recovery is defined by growth and change within. Recovery occurs when the individual has committed to finding a new way of life that will give them happiness and peace without substance use.
Stages of Addiction Recovery
1. Acknowledging Addiction
The first stage in addiction recovery is acknowledging addiction is present and there is a substance abuse problem. Often, it is hard to admit to the problem until family or friends point out behavior and health issues with supporting facts. Many times, it takes addiction affecting their life with finances, work, legal issues, and even losing friends and family before acknowledgment happens. Even if the person has not come to terms with their addiction and still lives in denial, the first step is important in creating a path to the beginning of their recovery process.
2. Contemplation Stage
Admitting that a drug abuse problem or addiction is present is not enough for recovery. Instead, addicts must believe they can recover from their addiction. For someone who has been living in the shadows of addiction, it can be hard for them to even think about what life would be without drugs or alcohol. When you start to believe you can overcome addiction, you may start to see how behavior has affected those around you. During the contemplation stage, they may start looking for addiction recovery centers such as Serenity Acres or talking to loved ones about the possibility of addiction treatment. When an addict has reached this stage, something has been planted in their brain that they too can be successful in recovery. It is just a matter of time before they fully commit to seeking treatment.
3. Researching Recovery Treatments
Once they have fully accepted and understood they have a drug or alcohol problem, the need for professional help becomes more evident. An addict may only take small steps at first such as cutting down their consumption or trying to stay away from the same crowd they used drugs or alcohol with. They may also research the recovery process and what it is like for recovering addicts to live a sober life. They may reach out to friends or family members to talk about the treatment options available. During this stage is when many addicts take the first step and enter addiction treatment programs.
4. Acting on Sobriety
The early stages are important, but it can also be risky for relapse to occur. Relapse often occurs during the early stages because of the lack of confidence and strength to refrain from previous addictive behaviors, activities, and old friends. During the action stage, addicts should have stopped using drugs or alcohol and started to learn relapse prevention skills. During phase four, practicing new coping skills and healthy habits to help rebuild lost relationships is important. The stresses of trying to shift from addiction to a drug-free lifestyle can cause cravings and hopelessness leading to relapse.
5. Active Recovery
Once a person has reached stage five, they should have made significant progress in their new road to sobriety. Most importantly they have learned what coping skills they will need to overcome their cravings. Active recovery takes monitoring thoughts and addictive behaviors as well as keeping a stable support system. Even though the end of the recovery stages is near, addicts now should know what their life will be like drug or alcohol-free and what it will take to keep this journey going.
Calling the sixth stage of addiction recovery the end or final stage is very misleading and factually incorrect for recovering addicts. The reality of addiction is that the recovery process is never completely over. No one can say “I have gone through treatment and my addiction is over.” Instead, addicts should now know that they are strong enough to overcome the cravings and temptations. They also know that if they return to substance use, what it can do to their lives.
Recovery is more than just overcoming addiction and seeking treatment. Recovery is a life-long commitment as well as learning how to transform your body, mind, and spirit. Some addicts find recovery with just the help of friends and family. However, others may need the education and skills provided by a drug addiction recovery center such as Serenity Acres. If you are ready to experience freedom from drugs and alcohol, Serenity Acres is here to assist in making that possible.