Addiction is a very personal disorder, but it’s not one that anyone has to battle alone. Whether you slipped into addiction slowly over years of alcohol use or find yourself with cravings and withdrawals after only one or two uses of a substance such as heroin, addiction treatment programs can help you break the cycle of substance abuse and see success with the following steps to overcoming addiction.
And while the journey through recovery and the subsequent lifelong path of sobriety is unique for everyone, there are some common stages of addiction recovery. Understanding those steps can help you know what you need to do next on your own road to recovery or how to help someone in your life who is struggling with addiction.
1. Acknowledgment of Addiction
The first of any addiction recovery steps must be acknowledgment of the issue. You can’t seek help for an issue you don’t know — or refuse to know — that you have.
Generally in this stage, a person comes to the realization that his or her drug or alcohol use is causing a problem in their life. They may also begin to realize that they can’t break out of the cycle of addiction on their own.
This first stage of addiction recovery is about awareness, not action. In many cases, the person may not yet be ready to take action, but he or she may begin moving into stages that involve talking or thinking about action.
2. Considering the Need for Help
After realizing that substance abuse is a problem and that they can’t quit drugs or alcohol on their own, many individuals first begin considering the need for help. This is an important addiction recovery step because, during this time, you begin to realize the impact of substance abuse on the lives of those around you. For many people, the impact of their own addiction on those they love is a driving factor to move forward toward other stages of overcoming addiction.
3. Research About Recovery
In this third step to recovery, the person takes action. Individuals may begin reaching out to others for information or assistance. That includes discussing addiction with family members and asking for support from loved ones in the next stages. Other steps individuals may take during this third step include:
- Researching addiction and treatment options online
- Talking to trusted medical providers, such as primary care physicians, about addiction
- Bringing up addiction to counselors
- Reaching out to addiction treatment professionals via online contact forms, email or hotline phone numbers
It’s during this third step that many people make a serious decision to seek professional help with recovery.
4. Detox from Drugs or Alcohol
The fourth stage of addiction recovery is detoxing from alcohol or drugs. Detoxing involves allowing the drugs or alcohol to leave your body without replacing them (by continuing substance abuse). The result can often be withdrawal symptoms, which include issues such as sweating, anxiety, depression, nervousness, vomiting, diarrhea, nightmares, tremors and even muscles aches and pains.
This stage of addiction recovery can be extremely difficult to go through and is a common barrier for many people. Without the right support, withdrawal symptoms can easily drive someone back to substance abuse.
In a residential recovery setting, individuals get constant support from doctors, nurses and counselors during this time. Medically assisted detox allows you to go through this phase of recovery in a much more comfortable position, often without feeling many of the withdrawal symptoms.
5. Recovery in a Professional Setting
During detox and throughout residential recovery, which can last from a few weeks to a few months on average, individuals work on active recovery. During this time, they learn more about the cycle of addiction and identify root causes of addiction in their own lives as well as triggers for alcohol or drug abuse.
Through group and individual counseling, recreational therapy and other means, individuals develop new, healthier coping mechanisms and practice putting them into action. They may also learn holistic health skills, including diet and exercise, stress reduction techniques and even communication skills to help them live a sober, positive lifestyle in the future.
6. Transitioning Out of Residential Recovery
Inpatient treatment is often a critical step for individuals because it lets them break away from the world to concentrate on themselves and overcoming addiction. But everyone must eventually return to regular life, and the transition from residential recovery to daily life can be challenging.
To support individuals transitioning out of inpatient recovery, treatment teams usually create an aftercare plan. That includes follow-up appointments with doctors or counselors and referrals to group therapy or outpatient treatment options, including AA or NA meetings. It’s important that individuals remain focused on recovery during this sixth stage, because they can be at increased risk of using drugs and alcohol again as they integrate back into regular life and must again deal with the stresses that come with it.
You may want to talk to your recovery treatment team about a transition plan that includes more than just follow-up appointments. Talk about what your plans are for returning to work, school or family life, what social situations you may want to avoid and how you can put your newly learned coping skills to work.
7. Follow-Up and Maintaining Sobriety
The last step to recovery is holding your own in the world. That means maintaining sobriety by following up with your plans, attending AA or NA meetings, seeing a counselor and working with a sponsor. It may also mean working with loved ones who can provide ongoing support for you as you seek to live a sober lifestyle.
It’s also important to remember that, as with a chronic physical condition, relapse can occur. Some people go through the steps in addiction recovery more than once in their life.
Whether you’re just realizing you have a problem with alcohol or drug abuse or you’re back at step three after years of sobriety, Transitions Recovery Program can help. Contact us today or call 800-298-1783 to find out more about our residential drug rehab program.