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What Are the Stages of Addiction Recovery?

Removing the mystery often makes things easier to undertake.

That holds true for many of the things that life throws at us and few of them are as potentially overwhelming as the prospect of overcoming and beating an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Understanding the stages of addiction treatment is therefore of paramount importance. Either for yourself, if it’s something you’re personally going through, or as a loved one watching a son, brother, uncle or friend battle addiction.

Addiction Recovery Explained

Knowing is half the battle and first and foremost, this is a process, not some overnight thing.

So what are the stages of addiction recovery?

There are 5 of them for starters and they describe the lifecycle of recovery from before you or a loved one even sets foot in a treatment center through to successful completion of a program.


A person in this stage is squarely in the grips of addiction and very likely doesn’t consider their usage to be an issue at all. On the contrary, their addictive behavior will generally be positive in their minds and they’ll have scarcely experienced a negative consequence themselves. Trying something like an intervention at this stage would be met with extreme denial.

However, those negative experiences will eventually catch up with an addict and move them into the next stage.


The realization stage in other words. The user acknowledges there is a problem with substance abuse. Awareness is another way to put it. People become aware at this stage of the consequences of their drug or alcohol use on themselves, their family, friends, work-life, etc.

Intervening at this stage with information and discussing real options for overcoming addiction could prove successful because as the name suggests, they’re thinking about changing.

A word of warning, contemplation can ultimately last for years and people will either revert to pre-contemplation or move forward.


This is a biggie.

This is where a person understands that the negatives outweigh the perceived “positives” of substance abuse. They’ve committed to moving forward with a change of some kind. The excitement is palpable at this stage and the thought of living a sober life is something they truly want. This is where they’re very receptive to the prospect of recovery and are on the edge of commitment.


Naturally, this is the next step, the tipping point so to speak where the work of recovery finally begins in earnest. 

This is where the familiar elements of recovery come into play. When a person is in the action stage they are entering a rehab facility. They go through detox and, depending on the severity, move on to residential inpatient care.


Last and certainly not least is maintenance and this stage is by no means an afterthought. Recovery is a journey; in fact, it’s often said that recovery is a lifelong process. It’s something you constantly have to work at. What that looks like in practice is outpatient care, aftercare, sober living homes, support groups like AA and NA, etc.

It’s about staying engaged.

Why Are There Different Stages of Addiction Treatment?

The different stages exist because it makes understanding the mindset of addiction easier. It helps you get a feeling for where a loved one is on their particular journey and when they might be the most receptive to outside assistance, advice and care.

What Are the Stages of Addiction Recovery Offered at VRC Agua Dulce?

At Valley Recovery Center in Agua Dulce, we’re well versed in all phases of addiction recovery with a specialization in bringing people through the action stage. Out intensive and highly structured holistic programs can help set you or your loved one up for the sober life you’ve longed for. If you need advice or more clarity on these stages of addiction recovery, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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