Stages of Change in Recovery

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

Stages of Change in Recovery

Everyone moves through the stages of change when making any shift in their life at their own pace. There is not a right or wrong way for change to happen as each individual has unique experiences. Knowing about the stages of change while in recovery from substance use and mental illness can help individuals know where they are in their own process of change.

The Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change)

The Transtheoretical Model, or the Stages of Change, is a framework through which to view change that can be applied to an individual’s life when they are looking to make a change. This can occur whether that be at the beginning of recovery or throughout anything else in life. There are six stages of change, and everyone moves through the stages at their own pace.


The first stage of change is precontemplation, where individuals may not even know change is possible for them. Individuals may find themselves stuck here until they become aware that something in their life needs adjustment and move into contemplation.


The contemplation stage can be described as the stage where individuals begin having the awareness that perhaps they could change. Maybe an individual is tired of feeling anxious, stressed, or depressed all the time and begins wondering if freedom is possible.


In the preparation stage of change, individuals start to gather the resources they need for change to happen. In the case of substance use recovery, individuals may call an addiction treatment center to see what their treatment options are. Preparing for change is what allows them to take action in alignment with their goals and have support while doing so.

Taking Action

While in the action stage of change, individuals actively pursue goals they have. This could look like following their treatment plan, going to therapy, creating new relationships, and learning healthy coping skills that support their new way of being.


The maintenance stage of change is about sustaining the progress someone has made. This is typically the stage people spend the longest in. The process of change does not end when the shift has been made. Instead, it requires long-term vigilance and upkeep. It is important to note that this stage tends to be where relapse may happen—although it can happen in any stage.


Just because someone may be in the termination stage of change, they are still actively taking steps that allow them to maintain the changes they have experienced in their healing journey.

Although not the only part of substance use and mental illness recovery, the Stages of Change can help individuals identify where they are in their process of change and begin to move through the stages at their own pace. Knowing the stages can help individuals make sense of their progress and motivation.

The Stages of Change is a model that helps individuals move through change at their own pace in a way that makes sense for them. At Avalon Malibu, we recognize how hard it can be to effect lasting change, especially if you’re not sure you want to change yet. Our team of professionals is here to meet you where you are in your journey and guide you through recovery and change. If you are ready to begin your journey, call Avalon Malibu at (844) 857-5992 to learn about our recovery programs.

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