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Stages of Change

The “Stages of Change” model is a five-step plan to help addicts, specifically alcoholics, understand their addictions and motivate them to change. The model is based on observations of modifying problem behavior such as smoking, overeating and alcoholism. The five stages…

include pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance.


Individuals at this stage of the five-step model have not yet thought of overcoming their addiction. They may not see their addiction as a problem or at least perceive it as inconsequential. Those in this first stage are generally reluctant, rebellious and often rationalize their behavior. They may also believe that there is no hope in changing their circumstances.


Addicts at this stage are willing to consider that they might have a problem. They are also able to consider the possibility of change. However, contemplation is not a decision to change; rather, it is a stage of indecision. Those at this stage of the five-step model acknowledge that drinking heavily, or other consequences of addiction, is unhealthy and often become interested in health risks.


The third stage, determination, occurs when an individual decides to take action and overcome their addiction. Most addicts will make a serious commitment at this stage to end addiction. At this stage, the help of professionals and other members of a support system are helpful. Those attempting to overcome addiction will make a serious attempt to anticipate problems or hiccups and create solutions.


Individuals at this stage put their plans to change in action. This might include making a public statement, entering counseling and/or attending group support meetings. Making recovery public helps build support groups and external monitors.


Even after recovery, relapse is still a possibility. During this final stage of the model, an individual may experience temptation to return to addiction or experience a slide back. Maintaining recovery status is sometimes the most difficult part of recovery. Source: Psych Central

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