When someone you care about is struggling with addiction, it’s helpful to understand the stages of change as they are applied to recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. They may bounce back and forth between the stages, but no matter who it is – family member, employee, friend – the stages are the same.

What are the Stages of Change?

  • Precontemplation
  • Contemplation
  • Preparation
  • Action
  • Maintenance

In previous posts, we’ve discussed precontemplation and contemplation. Essentially, think of an addict or alcoholic moving from no awareness or acknowledgment of a problem to “Maybe there’s an issue here and maybe I should think about it.”

The next step is preparation, where the thoughts change to “I’ve got a problem and I need to do something about it.” This often includes some research on possible solutions, required behavioral changes, and available resources.
Someone may come to the preparation stage on their own. Or it might happen with attention and prompting from others. It may be something like, “You have a problem and you need to do something about it” and a response of “I guess you’re right.”

Recognizing the problem and considering change show great progress, but also present a problem: How good is the research and decision-making when brain function is impeded by drugs and alcohol?

We can’t always start to change on our own and we can benefit from professional help in research, resource identification, and decisions. We know what’s available and we can bring objective, productive guidance. If this describes someone you care about – family member, work colleague, friend – reach out for help. Talk to us – we know the territory and can help you navigate it.

In Recovery,