Understanding the Stages of Change Model for Recovery

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Understanding the Stages of Change Model for Recovery

Change doesn’t happen overnight. It is a long and challenging process, especially when you are changing addictive behaviors. Luckily, there are stages of change to make this process more understandable. The stages consist of the time before you realize that you have a problem, when you get help, and when you are learning to maintain your sobriety. We at Avalon Malibu want to help you work through these stages and reach your long-term goals.

The Stages of Change

Stages of change outline the process of coming to terms with your addiction and reaching out for the help you need to overcome it. They can be used to self-evaluate and take steps to change the aspects of yourself that you think need improvement.


During this stage, you haven’t accepted that you have an addiction and need to seek help to overcome it. It is the stage of denial and avoidance. You may attend meetings or support groups because of the pressures of others being put on you, but you aren’t participating or learning from the experience. This is the stage of resistance to change.


You finally realize that there is a problem, and you want to change the behavior during this stage. This stage is marked by thoughts of ways to make the changes you wish to and saying that one day you will do it. There can be multiple plans at this point, and none of them are set in stone. The end of this stage is filled with feelings of anxiety and excitement as you move forward to prepare for the change.


The third stage is preparation, when you make the final arrangements before making the change. This means figuring everything out for the other things you may be responsible for. Some examples include childcare, what type of program and where you will seek treatment, leave of absence at work, housing, and how to afford the care you need. You have a set date for entering your program and are hardened to take action during this time.


This stage is when all that planning and preparation is implemented. You work to change your settings and behaviors to what you need for recovery. The action stage is at least six months long.


During this stage, you are putting the practices you learned during the action stage into effect to maintain your sobriety and stay on your recovery path. You have to put the work in to keep up the new behaviors you started and prevent relapse.

How Can the Stages of Change Help My Recovery?

The stages of change aren’t a straight and narrow process. Changing behaviors takes time and effort, especially if you have been doing them for a while. There is a likelihood of relapsing to the behavior and having to start the process again before you reach long-term maintenance. This is normal, and understanding the stages of change can help you return to where you want to be.

The stages of change allow you to see problems, find solutions, and take the necessary steps to change your behavior. They can also help you reach out for the care you need after a relapse. Knowing the process of addiction and how to reach the recovery stage can help you move through them easier and get you back on track to reach your long-term sober goals. It can also help you self-evaluate during recovery to discover further behaviors you may want to change and work the steps to achieve these changes.

Avalon Malibu Use of the Stages of Change for Long-Term Recovery

At Avalon Malibu, we are a substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health treatment facility that offers customized treatment plans to help you reach your long-term goals. We take a holistic approach because we understand that the mind, body, and spirit need to be in harmony for you to be successful in your recovery. Our SUD programs can be inpatient, intensive outpatient, or partial hospitalization, depending on your needs. Using many different therapies in our programs helps to ensure you are getting the most out of your time with us. These therapies consist of experiential therapy, relapse prevention, acupuncture, nutritional guidance, and physical fitness. The stages of change are also used to help you succeed in your recovery.

You are taught to recognize and understand the stages of change to help you improve your chances of changing the behavior, even after a slip. We know that this process isn’t straightforward and that there will be times when old habits might start. These slips act as a learning opportunity for you to discover triggers and how to cope with them. Our goal is to teach you how to realize you are going back to the behaviors you stopped and to get back on the path to successful recovery.

There are five stages of change: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. These stages describe moving from not seeing that you have an addiction to seeking out and learning to maintain your recovery. Working through these stages can be difficult and time-consuming. They should not be rushed, nor should you push someone into a stage they aren’t ready for yet. Moving through them before you are ready can hinder your recovery progress and make it more difficult to maintain after treatment. If you are struggling to figure out the stages and how to work through them, reach out to Avalon Malibu at (844) 857-5992. We understand what you are working through and want to help you reach your goals. 

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