How the Stages of Change Model Works with Successful Addiction Recovery

Effective addiction recovery is predicated on meeting a person at their level of readiness to change. Someone in denial about their problem must be treated differently than someone who acknowledges their problem and is motivated to do something about it. Also, personality traits and individual treatment preferences must be considered in order to give an addict the best chance of recovery possible.

In the 1990s, Drs. Prochaska, Norcross, and DiClemente created a change model they call, “The Stages of Change.” They assert that change occurs in a predictable process. By understanding where an individual is in this process, we have found that we are better able to make appropriate treatment interventions that make a difference in the addiction recovery process. The principle researcher, Dr. Prochaska, has endorsed Cliffside Malibu’s use of the Stages of Change model in addiction recovery.

As we use the model at Cliffside Malibu, there are five stages. These are:

  • Precontemplation – the addict either doesn’t know he has a problem or is too demoralized to consider change.
  • Contemplation – the addict recognizes that a problem exists, but isn’t sure that change is possible for him.
  • Preparation – the addict is actively involved in making plans and changing his lifestyle so that change can be lasting.
  • Action – the addict implements the plans made in the preparation stage. Much of this stage will happen as part of the post-addiction-treatment exit plan.
  • Maintenance – the addict is comfortable with the life changes made and is living a new life. Addiction is simply no longer a problem.

This change model is effective with problems other than addiction and can be used with any problem a person may face.

About the Author

Constance Scharff, PhD

Constance Scharff, PhD

Constance Scharff has a Ph.D. in Transformative Studies, specializing in addiction recovery. She is the Senior Addiction Research Fellow and Director of Addiction Research at Cliffside Malibu Treatment Center, and co-author of Ending Addiction for Good with Richard Taite.