When we make a change, we progress through five different stages. They will take varying lengths of time. We may bounce back and forth among them, or never move beyond one of the stages, but they’re predictable. When someone you care about – family member, employee, colleague, friend – is struggling with addiction, it’s helpful to understand these stages.

Here are the Stages of Change:

  • Precontemplation
  • Contemplation
  • Preparation
  • Action
  • Maintenance

Today, let’s consider precontemplation. When we’re discussing addiction and alcoholism, what does precontemplation look like? Simply put, it’s drinking and/or drug use with no consideration of stopping. It’s when the heavy drinker is still drinking and not recognizing consequences. Maybe the hangovers are causing sick days, but the job still seems manageable to her. Maybe there’s been one DUI charge, she paid the fines and increased insurance costs, took the weekend diversion class and moved on. Maybe the pain pill user believes he’s just “partying.” Maybe the family raises a flag of concern from time to time, but he says he can stop if he wants to.

Every addict or alcoholic, whether he or she ever finds recovery, experiences precontemplation. It’s when they’re just not ready to stop and really don’t see that they need to. They’re simply not yet consciously seeing that they need to change. An experienced professional can help a family find the best ways to bring recognition to an addict or alcoholic and help them move to the contemplation stage.

If someone you care about is struggling, reach out and let’s talk. We can help design a custom path to sustained recovery.


In Recovery,