Changing (Stages of Change)

If you are struggling with an active addiction, you know what the shame feels like when you are not meeting other peoples’ expectations, you are losing relationships and jobs and health. Often, you feel extreme pressure to be changed but you may feel like you are drowning, instead. How do I get from here to there, you ask?

It is important to know how people change because then you can have realistic expectations, start to communicate better with those around you and start making changes in your addictions and other areas of your life!!!

There are various “stages of change:”

The first stage is Pre-Contemplation: this is the stage where a person doesn’t think he/she has a problem. Other people around them may think they have a HUGE problem but don’t see it. In this stage of change it isn’t going to help to push or pull the person and there can be a lot of conflict with those around you.

Contemplation stage of change comes next and is an important turning point. You start to think, “maybe they are right. Maybe something is wrong here.” “ Why have I lost all these things?” This is when the door opens for the possibility of change.

Preparation stage of change is when you have accepted there is a problem and start to think about how you want to go about changing it. At this point, you start to take other people’s suggestions into consideration.

Action stage of change is when you are actively involved in recovery activities, you are no longer alone, fighting to keep it all out. You start to go to 12-step groups maybe, or a church recovery group, engage with a Talkspace therapist, the options are many.

Maintenance stage of change is when you have reaped some of the reward of your difficult road. You have clean and sober friends, clean places to go, ways to celebrate that don’t include substances. Relationships are mended. Is it still difficult at times, absolutely, but you have resources and supports to get you through!

Relapse can come at any point. It is important to know it is often part of the cycle of change. If you relapse, you don’t lose all the wisdom you gained down your road of change. You need to hop back in and do what works, call out every supportive person and resource you have.

-Marie Turco, LCSW, CCPD_D

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