5 Stages of Recovering From an Addiction

Updated on October 23, 2020
5 Stages of Recovering From an Addiction

Everybody’s recovery process is different, which means that there isn’t necessarily a universal guideline to follow to achieve sobriety. That said, certain patterns have emerged pertaining to the stages that most people experience to break their addiction to substance abuse. In many cases, it is beneficial to break down the recovery process into generalized actionable steps. Doing so will provide a basic idea of what to expect along the way and help people understand where they are on the road to recovery. To learn about the five common stages of recovering from an addiction, continue reading.

Resistance To Change

The first stage in the recovery process is resistance or reluctance to change. During this stage, the person who has developed the addiction is likely uninterested in seeking help and doesn’t recognize the need to change their behavior.

They may be in denial that they have an addiction and will often try to rationalize their substance abuse or become defensive when loved ones bring up concerns. To move into the next stage of the recovery process, the person with the addiction must become aware of the consequences of their actions and recognize that they have a problem.


The next stage in the addiction recovery process is acceptance. In this stage, the person has recognized that they have a problem and experienced some of the significant consequences of substance abuse. As a result, they recognize the need to make changes and are now willing to do so, even if they aren’t sure how to move forward yet.

Those in this stage may start to open up to loved ones regarding their addiction but will likely continue to abuse substances. While this stage is a step in the right direction, it can often elicit feelings of hopelessness or anxiety as people recognize the need to change yet struggle to do so.


Once a person has accepted that they have an addiction and recognized the need to change, they will likely enter the planning stage. This stage involves making actionable plans for recovery. The person with an addiction may start to research treatment options or look into support groups to join. 

While some people may try to skip this stage and simply cut themselves off from a drug completely, such an attempt will likely be unsuccessful and can be dangerous. As such, it is important to take the time to come up with a well-thought-out recovery plan.

Taking Action

After outlining a recovery plan, the next step is to take action. During this stage, the person with the addiction will begin the physical recovery process by altering their behavior and starting to reduce their drug use. To do so, they may receive professional treatment at an accredited rehabilitation facility.

Relapse Prevention

Recovering from an addiction is an ongoing process, not a final destination. The recovery process doesn’t simply end after someone has stopped using drugs for weeks, months, or even years. To stay drug-free in the long-term, a person can’t neglect the final stage of recovering from an addiction, which is relapse prevention.

This stage should commence immediately after treatment and extend for the rest of one’s lifetime. It will include learning how to successfully avoid addiction triggers, stay engaged in the sober community, and maintain one’s dedication to avoiding substance abuse.

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