In previous articles, the Stages of Change model has been presented. It’s a model that outlines the process of ending an addiction and provides a roadmap for transformation. In 1983, clinician James Prochaska and others developed this model which points out six stages of transformation leading to sobriety. The model is a way to seek sober help because you can position yourself on one of the six stages and discover next steps to reach sobriety or achieving other changes in your life.
The stages and their definitions are listed below. They can be used as a map if you or someone you care for is attempting to make such a transformation. In addition to providing a definition of each stage, this article will also provide suggestions for sober help by including interventions to use at each stage.
Pre-contemplation: At this stage, an addict may not recognize there is a problem. There are no thoughts about making any change at all. If anyone points out a concern, anyone in this stage would feel that that he or she is exaggerating. The impact of the problem has not become conscious and there is no consideration to make any adjustment to one’s life.
Intervention: Ask yourself or the person you’d like to help about the risks or problems that he or she may be experiencing with the current level of drug use or drinking.
Contemplation: Adults in this stage are willing to consider that there might be a concern. However, their ambivalence is high. They haven’t made a firm decision to change; rather, they know that the drinking or drug use is problematic and are willing to look at pros and cons to sobriety as well as seek sober help. At this stage, a counselor or therapist might accompany an individual through a risk-reward analysis. Together, they might examine previous attempts to change in the past, causes for failure, and benefits and barriers to change.
Intervention: Evoke reasons to change such as “By stopping your drinking, you won’t have chronic headaches, you’ll feel better, you’ll have more energy, and you can restore your health.”
Determination: The hallmark of this stage is that a decision to change has been made. Although there continues to be some ambivalence, the determination to change is strong enough to outweigh any obstacles. There is a serious attempt to change with a realistic look at anticipatory problems, concrete solutions, and a sensible plan for seeking sober help and achieving recovery.
Intervention: Help others or yourself (or find someone to help you) determine the best course of action for achieving your sobriety and avoiding relapses. What kind of treatment or support do you need?
Action: As the energy of determination continues to build, an individual takes action and chooses to implement his or her recovery plan. A person might make their commitment to change public by telling friends in order receive external validation for their efforts. This stage might also include attending support groups, AA meetings, or individual therapy. As a recovery plan succeeds, emotional rewards might also become evident such as self-confidence, happiness, and optimism.
Intervention: Help yourself and others take the steps toward change.
Maintenance: Although a recovery plan is in place and a recovering addict has taken action towards that plan, maintaining sobriety can be challenging. This stage might even include relapse, but the foundation for a sober life is becoming firm. The person in recovery is becoming more aware of old habits and is growing the ability to make healthier choices. The test of this stage is maintaining the new behavior in order to create a life-long change.
Intervention: Help yourself and others identify and use the strategies to prevent relapse.
Termination: Some clinicians do not include this stage in the TTM model, particularly when applied to substance abuse. Some clinicians believe that once there is an addiction, there will always be one and that the stage of maintenance is ongoing. However, other clinicians see this stage a time when the individual is no longer tempted or threatened by any substances. He or she has complete confidence in his or her sobriety.
Intervention: Provide validation and acknowledgment of success in being able to make such a difficult transformation.
Whether you or someone you care for is searching for sobriety or freedom from other unhealthy behaviors, the stages above present a roadmap for change.
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