Stages of Change for Addiction, Treatment and Rehabilitation

Stages of Change for Addiction, Treatment and Rehabilitation

Prochaska & DiClemente developed a stages of change model that identifies 5 progressive stages of change as they specifically apply to overcoming addictions.

  1. Precontemplation
    • The stage where the inpidual is not contemplating changing any of their addictive behaviors. This stage is often also identified with continuing denial that a problem exists at all.
  2. Contemplation
    • The stage of beginning awareness that change is necessary and desirable without any actions to do so yet.
  3. Preparation
  4. Action
    • Stage is where the change in the behavior actually begins to occur. It is here that the addict actually stops drinking and using instead of simply talking about doing so.
  5. Maintenance
    • Stage where the change initiated in the action stage continues such that the person continues to remain clean and sober. It is at this stage that relapse prevention methods and programs becomes very important to continued recovery.

Rick Murphy, M.A.

Post Discussion

  1. Addict

    Maintenance stage actually last forever, don't you agree? Once an addict always an addict?

    • Addict

      Yes indeed William ;)
      As the stages of change model notes if one does not stay in he maintenace stage the next stage is relapse-which of course is undesireable-good point :)


  2. Addict

    There are some stages that others have added that seem relavant. Anti contemplative which is to say leave me alone I don't have a problem. Prelapse a phase in which thoughts about using occur. Lapse which may be a one time incident and relapse which is full engagement in addiction. I have found the prelapse phase useful in dealing with clients to get them to examine patterns that exsist weeks before a relapse occurs.Coupled with Phases and Warning Signs of Relapse by Terrence Gorski proves to be a very effective teaching tool.

  3. Addict

    Is there any specific time period in which these stages occur or do recovering addicts vary from person to person in the amount of time they actually spend within each stage?

    • Addict

      There is no specific time period that these stages occur, as each person needs to motivate themselves to go through each stage and move on to the next. Also, there is no "rule" that the addict will not cross back over into the first stages, multiple times over.

    • Addict

      There are no quick fixes for the diseases of drug abuse and alcoholism. Recovery is an ongoing process. The skills one learns during intensive rehabilitation treatment must be integrated into everyday life and this takes time. Forllow my link for a comprehensive addiction portal focusing on topics of alcohol and drug abuse.


  4. Addict

    My 21 year old daughter is in rehab for alcohol. She is on day 15 of a 28 day program. She got attached to male patient and now it's starting to come apart. She is really cranky and acts like she hasn't learned anything other than not to drink. Do the rehab programs help them to see some of the bad choices they made and how to change? I don't see her staying sober if she doesn't change how she sees herself and who she picks to have a relationship with. Any advise?

  5. Addict

    This is a fantastic article. Personally after have gone through the process is sounds a lot easier than it really is. I think one other person noted that the maintenance stage really never ends. I think even after you get over your addiction you still have to work hard every day to prevent relapse.

    Vicky- I am so sorry about your daughter. You hope that by sending them to treatment they will get better. Have you thought about switching treatment centers for her?

  6. Addict

    The stages of change are a circular process. Ideally people will remain in the maintenance stage forever but without a new challenge; IE. school a new career, life can get pretty routine and depression can occur, and if that happens it can threaten the quality of sobriety, and lead to relapse drifting behavior. Once a lapse occurs, the person MUST have someone that they can talk to honestly, if shame or guilt forces a person to be silent about a lapse, then the chance of a full blown relapse are much greater and in that case the person is right back in per-contemplation again. I believe that the stages of change can be used for any and all positive change that occurs for people.

Leave a comment


To protect the integrity of our site all comments are reviewed prior to being shown, we apologize for the small delay, but this brings a better experience for our readers. SPAM & rude comments are not tolerated. Using the 'Connect with Facebook' option will get your comment up faster!

Contact A Substance Abuse Counselor

We help people take the first steps toward getting help for their drug and alcohol usage and having drug-free lifestyles. To contact an alcohol/drug abuse counselor, please call 1-800-591-6474(Info iconWho Answers?).

Socialize with us
Close Icon

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Additional calls will also be forwarded and returned by a quality treatment center within the USA.

Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit will be answered by a licensed drug and alcohol rehab facility, a paid advertiser on

All calls are private and confidential.