“All the world’s a stage,” says one of William Shakespeare’s characters in As You Like It. It’s something of a meta moment. Here’s an actor on a stage saying that the whole world is a stage. When you are in the audience and you hear those words spoken from the stage, it can inspire a real moment of reflection about the many roles we all play throughout our lives. Of course, the word “stage” has another meaning as well. It can be used to describe a step along a longer process. You might think of the stages of early childhood development or the stages or your career or the stages of grief. You can also think of recovery from a substance use disorder as a series of stages. Let’s take a look at five stages of change that lead to reclaimed—and maintained—sobriety.
First Stage to Recovery: Precontemplation
In a certain sense, this hardly seems like a stage at all since it is a name for the period before you even start thinking about making a change. But it is important to recognize it for what it is—a period of time when you may not yet be willing to admit that drugs or alcohol are a problem for you. During the precontemplation stage, you may still be making excuses or rationalizing your substance use. You may still believe you could stop at any time.
But toward the end of this stage, you will start to get an inkling that you may have an issue that you need to address. The trigger could be any number of things, including an accident while driving under the influence, financial issues related to drugs or drinking, or a relationship that is damaged as a result of your substance use. Whatever the trigger, it pushes you to the next stage.
Second Stage: Contemplation
Now you are thinking about the problem. That doesn’t necessarily mean you are ready to do anything about it, but at least you have reached the point where you acknowledge that a problem exists.
For some, the admission that there is a problem to be addressed actually leads to more drinking or drug use. That might seem counterintuitive, but the realization that you have a problem without a sense of how to fix that problem can lead to feelings of hopelessness that in turn lead to more substance use.
The key to making it to the next stage is to turn your attention toward the future and the ways in which yours might improve if you put drugs and alcohol behind you.
Third Stage: Preparation
Shifting from hopelessness to hopefulness is a key part of the preparation stage. Now you are looking for the right treatment center, making arrangements to take a leave of absence from work or school, getting support from family and friends, and the like. Getting your plans in order smooths the way to the next stage of change.
Fourth Stage: Action
Here is the heart of things. Now that you have made your plans for getting help, the next step is…to actually get the help you need.
At a treatment facility like The Aviary Recovery Center, you will go through medically supervised detoxification to regain your sobriety. That will be followed by a rehabilitation program centered on individual and group therapy—and that includes treatment for any co-occurring mental health disorders that may be in play. When your time in residential treatment comes to an end, you will continue to be supported by The Aviary’s commitment to a continuum of care.
That ongoing support is essential as you enter the fifth stage of change.
Fifth Stage: Maintenance
For a person in recovery from a substance use disorder, the maintenance stage is ongoing. You must be intentional in your efforts to maintain your hard-won sobriety—and you must be vigilant so that you are not tripped up by cravings or other triggers that could cause you to return to drugs or alcohol.
And in the event of a relapse, it is absolutely essential that you return to treatment to regain your sobriety again and restart your recovery journey. While a relapse is a setback, it is not the end of your recovery as long as you are willing to return to the action stage to get back on the path to long-term sobriety.
When You Are Ready to Take Action, We Are Ready to Assist You with Recovery
It is not necessarily easy to get on the path that leads to a significant change in your life, especially if that change involves overcoming a substance use disorder. But the journey back to sobriety is always worth it.
At The Aviary Recovery Center, near St. Louis, MO, we can help you when you are ready to take action to reclaim your life—and we can provide the ongoing support you need to start your recovery journey with confidence. The time to make the change is right now.