THE STAGES OF CHANGE IN RECOVERY
(1979 Prochaska and DiClemente)
The stages of change are built from the foundation that behavior change does not happen in one step.
Each person moves through the stages at their own rate and each individual decides for themselves
when it is time to move to the next one. In each of the stages, a person has to deal with a different set
of issues and tasks that relate to changing behavior.
What are the Stages of Change?
Stage One: Pre-contemplation; in the pre-contemplation stage, people are not thinking seriously
about changing and are not interested in any kind of help.
They may be defensive in the face of other people's efforts to pressure them to quit.
People in this stage tend to defend their current bad habit(s) and do not feel they have a problem. It's the denial stage.
Stage Two: Contemplation; in the contemplation stage people are more aware of the consequences
of their addiction and will spend time thinking about their problem.
Although they are able to consider the possibility of change, they tend to be unsure about it.
In this stage, people are on a teeter-totter, weighing the pros and cons of quitting or modifying their behavior.
It might take as little as a couple weeks or as long as a lifetime to get through the contemplation stage.
On the plus side, people are more open to receiving information about their addiction,
and are aware about their feelings and thoughts concerning their bad habit. They start realizing accountability.
This is the ambivalent stage.
Stage Three: Preparation/Determination; in the preparation/determination stage,
people have made a commitment to make a change. Their motivation for changing is
reflected by statements such as: "I've got to do something about this - this is serious.
Something has to change. What can I do?" This is sort of a research phase:people are now taking
small steps toward quitting. Maybe they have a quit date and are trying to gather information
and resources to help themselves. This is the research and talk the talk stage.
Stage Four: Action/Willpower; this is the stage where people believe they have the ability to change
their behavior and are actively involved in taking the necessary steps to quit.
Mentally, they review their commitment to themselves and develop plans to deal with
both personal and external pressures that may lead to slips. People in this stage also
tend to be open to receiving help and are also likely to seek support
from others (a very important element). The "I Can Do It!" stage.
Stage Five: Maintenance; Maintenance involves being able to successfully avoid any
temptations to return to the bad habit. The goal of the maintenance stage is to maintain the new status quo.
People in this stage tend to remind themselves of how much progress they have made.
People in maintenance constantly reformulate the rules of their lives and are acquiring
new skills to deal with life and avoid relapse. They are able to anticipate the situations in
which a relapse could occur and prepare coping strategies in advance.
They remain aware that what they are striving for is personally worthwhile and meaningful.
They are patient with themselves and recognize that it often takes a while to let go of
old behavior patterns and practice new ones until they are second nature to them.
Even though they may have thoughts of returning to their old bad habits, they resist
the temptation and choose to continue working their recovery program.
Stage Six: Transcendence; eventually, if you "maintain maintenance" long enough,
you will reach a point where you will be able to work with your emotions and
understand your own behavior and view it in a new light. In this stage, not only is
your bad habit no longer an integral part of your life but to return to it would seem atypical,
abnormal, even weird to you. When you reach this point in your process of change,
you will know that you have transcended the old bad habits and that you are
truly becoming a new "you", who no longer needs the old behaviors to sustain yourself.
(1979 Prochaska and DiClemente)
**Take a Moment & Think**
What stage of change do I feel I am at right now?