Originally published in Psych Central
(Photo from SmartRecovery.org)
There are a number of stages one goes through when recovering from an addictive behavior.
1. Pre-contemplation — at this stage one is unaware of any problems. Others may point them out, but you have no interest in changing.
2. Contemplation– At this stage one is aware of the problem, but not sure how to change. You may be thinking about changing but ambivalent.
3. Preparation– You develop a plan to change behavior.
4. Action– Modify behavior to put plan into action
5. Maintenance-Able to stick with new behavior with minimum effort and strong commitment
6. (Termination)– In some recovery programs they have a step where you have completed and no longer have the addictive behavior.
(Relapse)-relapse may happen at any time. It is common, but not everyone has a relapse. A relapse is when you revert to the addictive behaviorI was in the pre-contemplation stage with my drinking for years. If people would suggest I had a problem, I thought it was their problem. I started having certain rules. I wouldn’t drink if I had to drive or if I had responsibilities.
When I contemplated changing, I was ambivalent. Not sure I wanted to abstain forever. Not sure it was a problem. I prepared and even started going into action and would stop drinking for a bit, but then I would relapsebecause I had not really made the decision to quit.
I had done cost/benefits (pros/cons) and knew it was beneficial to quit. I knew drinking wasn’t one of my priorities. I knew I would drink more than I wanted to and had trouble abstaining. But, there was a part of me that still said “you’ll miss out on the fun”. And, I may. I will also miss out on any consequences.
I am in active recovery right now. I have been going to meetings and sticking with a plan. I have worked on motivation and controlling urges. I am using cognitive behavioral therapy and other techniques to control my distorted thinking.
I can resist temptations. I have been sober for 5 months straight. Another month of consistency and I believe I will be in the maintenance stage. At my work, they are training a couple of people, including me, to facilitate a SMART Recovery group. Facilitating should help keep me focused.
The end goal of these stages, is to live a life that is complete without alcohol.