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The Solution to the Cycle of Addiction

Most people who struggle with addiction cannot quit on the first try. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 40 to 60% of individuals will relapse after becoming clean and sober for the first time. Some believe that relapse transpires because the person fails to seek professional help. However, even individuals who have completed alcohol or drug treatment may relapse.

It can be challenging to know what to expect when getting clean and sober. Recovery is an all-encompassing adjustment to every aspect of life. How can some people overcome addiction more quickly than others? There is no definitive answer, but the Stages of Change Model can help find insights to understand addiction recovery.

The Stages of Change Model

The Stages of Change Model, also known as the transtheoretical model, was developed to approach how individuals overcome addiction. Carlo C. DiClemente and J. O. Prochaska created the six-stage model of change to help counselors and clients acknowledge and understand addiction obstacles presented on the road to recovery.

The Stages of Change Model is helpful for many other behaviors that people are having trouble changing. Still, it is most known for its achievement in healing individuals with substance use disorder (SUD).

Initially, there were five stages in the model of change which included pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. However, through years of scientific studies, a sixth stage evolved. The final stage is known as the termination stage. Each stage of change provides various effective interventions and techniques to aid in moving to the next stage. Below is a detailed description of each stage.

Precontemplation Stage

The first stage is the pre-contemplation stage. In this stage, individuals do not view their actions and behaviors as problematic. Therefore, they do not seek help for their addiction. Individuals are often unaware that their behavior produces negative consequences. People in this stage do not appreciate the positive effects that changed behavior can have in their life and place too much emphasis on the negative aspects of adjusting their actions or behaviors. Nevertheless, the negative consequences individuals continue to face can ultimately force the person into the next stage of change, known as contemplation.

Contemplation Stage

Contemplation is the second stage; it involves the individual realizing they have a problem and thinking about starting to live a healthy lifestyle. People identify their problematic behavior and begin a more thoughtful and practical contemplation of the positive and negative consequences. An individual in the contemplation stage is usually more susceptible to receiving information about different strategies to control or quit their addictive behavior. However, people in this stage are not yet ready to promise to change their addictive behaviors.

Preparation Stage

The third stage is the preparation stage, where people begin to take action and small steps to change their addictive behaviors. At this stage, individuals believe that changing how they behave can result in a healthier lifestyle. A person may decide how to make the change, obtain necessary resources, avoid triggers, and find a support system. When these preparations are met, the individual is ready to move toward the action stage.

Action Stage

The fourth stage is the action stage. As the name suggests, the action stage involves putting the preparations into action. Individuals exhibit a fundamental change in their behavior and intend to continue forward with improvement. People may demonstrate the action stage by modifying their behavior or acquiring new healthy behaviors. They may start to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings, outpatient treatment, or counseling. Individuals in the action stage are inspired to succeed and have established a support system required to do so. The overall focus during the action stage is on overcoming the addiction.


The fifth stage is the maintenance stage, where the individual has sustained the addictive behavior change for at least six months and aims to maintain the behavior moving forward. This involves staying sober from drugs or alcohol, maintaining a reduced level of addictive actions, or continuing to practice harm reduction goals. People in the maintenance stage work daily to prevent relapse and support the objectives made throughout the preparation stage and behaviors initiated in the action stage.


The termination stage is the last and final stage within the Stages of Change Model. Unfortunately, many people rarely get to this stage because they remain in the maintenance stage. During termination, individuals have no desire to return to unhealthy behaviors. Therefore, the termination stage is not usually considered a part of most treatment programs.

Seeking Help for Alcohol or Drug Addiction

It can feel overwhelming when searching for help with alcohol or drug addiction. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers the behavioral health treatment services locator to help find mental health services by area. In addition, information about treatment facilities that provide specialty care is available with SAMHSA's substance use disorder treatment locator.

Acknowledging the Stages of Change Model is essential in helping you find the solution to the cycle of addiction. If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol or drug addiction, Present Moments Recovery can help. Present Moments Recovery in San Diego, California, provides an individualized and comprehensive approach to addiction, with multiple levels of care to support a successful recovery. We focus on extensive treatment that is less intensive to encourage long-term recovery. From detoxification programs to outpatient programs and aftercare, we can help you form a firm foundation for your recovery. At our family-run treatment center, you will be able to talk with therapists one-on-one, guaranteeing that all your needs are met. Present Moments Recovery believes recovery only happens in the present moment. Call us today and learn more about our treatment options and services at (619) 363-4767.



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Mark G
Mark Gladden brings both personal and professional experience to his role as co-founder of Present Moments Recovery. Now in long-term recovery himself after struggling with addiction for years, Mark understands firsthand the challenges men face in achieving and maintaining sobriety. It was this insight, combined with a desire to help others, that led Mark to establish Present Moments Recovery.

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