Most experts agree that life improves once addicts treat their conditions. According to the World Health Organization, good health is about much more than just the absence of a disease1. “Quality of life” is a term that describes how someone feels about her wellbeing: someone with a good quality of life will often have a positive perception of herself, the feeling that she fits in with her culture and community. She may also think that her life meets her hopes and dreams. In fact, people with a good quality of life often feel relatively healthy, mentally well and independent even though they are probably still socially connected to many other people2.
Unfortunately, it is completely impossible to have a good quality of life while you are in active addiction either to drugs or to alcohol. Because addiction causes people to depend upon substances for their happiness, those people will lose independence, community and ultimately their health to this devastating disease. Addiction takes a serious toll on how well someone enjoys his life. In fact, the substances that someone once used to relieve pain or help make life seem more fun will soon become the chains to a miserable existence.
When you are addicted, the thought of treatment may seem scary. It may seem daunting to consider changing a major part of your life, especially when you have become dependent upon that substance simply to feel normal. There are some stages of change that most addiction recovery programs can help you work though, so seek help to get and stay clean.
Addiction and the Stages of Change
The US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association has identified the following six stages of addiction recovery change3:
- Precontemplation – During this time, addicts do not think that they have a problem with drugs, so they see no need to seek help overcoming addiction. In fact, many addicts who are in this stage fail to see that there is anything unusual about their drug habits. As a result, addicts need help to link their problems to substance abuse.
- Contemplation – During the contemplation stage, addicts are aware that their drug habits constitute abuse, and they may think that this behavior is a problem, but they are unprepared for any kind of change in this behavior. At this point, a family intervention may be a good idea to show the benefits of changing or treating the problem at hand.
- Preparation – This stage occurs when the addict is aware of a problem and would like to change it. At this point, she may research treatment options or begin reading more about how to quit using drugs. In fact, she may actually prepare to enter treatment during the preparation phase and sincerely intend to go.
- Action – The action phase is the most readily visible stage of treatment. This stage may begin while the addict is in inpatient rehab or during a supportive group or individual counseling experience. On the other hand, it may occur with or without peers, although an addict is much more likely to succeed in recovery when he seeks some support from other people. Any addict can quit using a drug for a short time, but long-term sobriety is not guaranteed, as recovery requires active support and guidance. To navigate this phase successfully, it is essential for a recovering addict to be involved with some type of support group, treatment program or family unit.
- Maintenance – This stage occurs when an addict maintains sobriety for a long-term basis, which will only occur with some hard work. Maintenance is best held with the support of a recovery group or family members. This step takes ongoing help for the addict to avoid substance use triggers and concerns. During this time, evaluate what methods work for you and which ones do not to keep up long-term wellness.
- Relapse – Do not become afraid due to the fact that there is a relapse phase. Some recovering addicts never experience relapse, while other people experience relapse many years down the road well after their treatment has ended. Other addicts experience relapse right out of treatment, and still others may experience relapse many times over before they become sober for the long haul. In many cases, patients will return to action and maintenance phases after the first stint in treatment ends.
As you may see from these stages of change, overcoming addiction is an involved process that takes time and effort4.
Addiction Treatment Help
Are you concerned about your drinking habits or a loved one’s? Sometimes it is difficult to tell when drinking has become a serious issue, because, even if alcohol or substance use damages your life, you may not know what to do. However, we can help: please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline right now to learn how our admissions coordinators can help you or a loved one overcome addiction. With the right support and the best environment for wellness, your new life can begin as soon as possible.
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8560308. The World Health Organization Quality of Life assessment (WHOQOL): position paper from the World Health Organization. Retrieved 12/7/2015.
- http://www.who.int/mental_health/media/68.pdf. WHOQOL Measuring Quality of Life. Retrieved 12/7/2015.
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64241/ Appendix G Stages of Change. Retrieved 12/7/2015.
- http://www.csam-asam.org/sites/default/files/pdf/misc/StagesofChange.pdf. Stages of Change – A Summary of Treatment Needs and Strategies. Retrieved 12/7/2015.