“Old habits die hard”, is a well-known proverb. It is true that fighting and overcoming an addiction is a challenging process. There are several unfamiliar and difficult territories that one has to cross before finally reaching one’s destination. The recovery process has been best explained by psychologists James Prochaska, John Norcross, and Carlo Di Clemente, who broke it down into 6 stages – pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and termination. Each of these stages’ marks important milestones in an individual’s journey from addiction to becoming clean of substance abuse.

The consequences and frequency of addiction are directly proportional to its worsening.

  1. The pre-contemplation stage is one in which the addict has full knowledge of the effects of addiction but chooses to justify them either way. Though the addict might acknowledge that he or she requires treatment to overcome addiction, the individual in this stage would still prefer to continue in active addiction rather than go in for rehabilitation. The individual continues to believe that the rewards of remaining addicted are greater than the costs and consequences.
  2. During the contemplation phase, the addict comes to realize that the effects of addiction are far more acute than he or she had earlier believed. The addict is becoming increasingly aware of the negative consequences of the addiction but isn’t yet completely sure whether the negative effects outweigh the pleasure substance abuse provides. During this stage, the addict begins to acknowledge that he/she has substance abuse problems. The addict becomes open to the prospect of rehabilitation but he/she continues to have some justification as to why recovery should be put off to a later period in time.
  • During the transition from the stage of contemplation to the stage of preparation, the addict comes to acknowledge the fact that the consequences of addiction outweigh the imaginary benefits. He/ she also come around to accepting that treatment is needed and that soberness is an achievable goal. Moreover, the addict begins to accept support from family members and friends. The individual becomes proactive and makes a plan for addressing his/her problem.
  • After passing through the stages of pre-contemplation, contemplation, and preparation, the individual enters the stage of action. During this stage, the individual takes an active interest in the process of recovery by engaging in various rehabilitative programs like a 12-step group or a treatment program. In addition to making an all-out effort to remain sober, the individual also makes drastic lifestyle changes that will help him/her lead a healthy and productive life. The individual also makes plans for his/her health, career, and overall wellness. Moreover, there is a genuine attempt at repairing and re-establishing relationships.
  • The period between the action and maintenance stages calls for the addict to complete the rehabilitation or treatment program and take on the task of remaining sober and abstinent. Individuals who do not take this step seriously are likely to go into relapse. An individual in the maintenance stage needs to practice living in the recovery stage. Those going through this stage can seek help from support groups and alumni programs.

The recovery process concludes in the termination stage. An individual in this stage will, in all probability, has a stable career, is healthy, has healthy relationships, and is confident about remaining sober. It has been noticed that most individuals in the termination stage do not feel the urge to return to their previously addictive habits.

The best part about the six stages of recovery is that they break down a complex process into clear, attainable steps. These steps are beneficial in the following ways:

  1. They encompass various means by which people can fight addiction such as 12-step programs, clinical treatment, etc.
  2. People who are inexperienced with addiction recovery or who are new to the process of addiction recovery find this model easy to comprehend.
  3. Since the whole process is divided into stages it is possible to give perspective to an addict’s recovery experience over time. It also helps determine what resources are best suited for each stage.


At Compass Clinic, we lend a helping hand to all those struggling with various forms of addiction. We provide a safe environment and unmatched expertise to help you return to a life of health and wellness. Contact us to begin your journey towards recovery.