Discover the 4 Stages of Addiction Treatment and Recovery

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Addiction Treatment and Recovery

Substance abuse is a heartbreaking reality in the modern world. Besides turning lively individuals into desperate, lonely husks of their former selves, it also tears families apart. In fact, addiction is often linked to higher divorce rates in the United States.  

Even though the impact of drug addiction is devastating, there is hope. Proper treatment can stop the progressively worsening symptoms of substance abuse and help anyone turn a new leaf. All they must do is trust the process, and they can get back on their feet in no time.

That said, recovery does not happen in a day. When an individual decides to enter an inpatient/outpatient rehabilitation program, they pass through four distinct stages to re-cultivate a healthy mindset.

4 Phases of Addiction Treatment and Recovery

In this post, we’ll walk you through each phase of addiction treatment in detail. Let’s dive in!

1. Awareness

Most addicts start their recovery journey by accepting their addiction and deciding to get clean. In this regard, it’s essential that the addict- and not their friends/family- admits to the problem and desires to resolve it.

This realization might be triggered by a crisis event- a dreadful moment that forces the patient to face their demons and identify how dangerous their drug problem has become (for example, a drug-influenced road accident or a sudden separation). The incident serves as a wake-up call and washes away the delusion that their addiction is not affecting others.

It’s worth mentioning that Stage 1 is not enough to break the cycle of substance abuse. However, it’s a pivotal moment that can push the individual to receive drug addiction treatment.

2. Initiation and Early Abstinence

Next, the addict may reach out to a professional drug addiction treatment center to kickstart the first portion of their recovery- treatment initiation.

During the early stages of rehab, the addict may be unsure about renouncing their drug habits. This mentality, although common, is dangerous. It’s important for the addict to feel confident in the road they have chosen so that they can continue on it successfully.  

Treatment for addiction usually begins with detoxification, wherein all addictive substances are carefully removed from the patient’s body under medical supervision. Given the multiple side effects of drug withdrawal (anxiety, depression, impaired executive control, fatigue, hallucinations, and nausea), this procedure must take place gradually in a medical setting. Quitting cold turkey is often difficult- and more alarmingly- life-threatening.

Once detox is complete, the patient will undergo therapy to understand and fix the underlying causes of their addiction. Generally, they will work with a substance abuse counselor to:

  • Look at the damaging effects of their addiction
  • Explore their feelings of denial
  • Find a new zest for life  

Early abstinence is touted as the most intense part of the addiction treatment process. This is when the individual has to deal with persistent withdrawal symptoms, physical cravings, and triggers that can push them to relapse. But by working with a trained addiction counselor, they can learn the skills required to lead a sober lifestyle.

3. Maintaining Abstinence

Patients who remain abstinent for about three months can move on to the third stage of addiction treatment. If the person started in an inpatient/residential treatment program, they may continue their counseling and therapy on an outpatient basis from here on.  

The primary goal of this stage is to prevent a relapse. The patient can use the techniques learned in early abstinence to overcome temptation, as well as:

  • Avoid replacing one addiction with another
  • Learn new employment and financial management skills
  • Focus on health and nutrition
  • Manage impulses
  • Build/repair relationships with friends and family

Addiction recovery is an active process, meaning it will continue for the rest of the patient’s life. Recovering individuals must actively try to address thoughts and behaviors that influence (or trigger) their addiction. While this may sound daunting, it gets easier over time.

We also recommend that patients have a support system: not just to help them through their struggles, but to also celebrate small victories. Things like intensive therapy, family therapy, and working within the local community can help the person stay on top of their recovery goals.

The maintenance stage should last about five years, following which the patient will enter the fourth and final stage of addiction treatment and recovery.

4. Advanced Recovery

At this point, the patient can take all the skills and tools acquired in the previous stages and use them to move forward with their life.  

But note that recovering from addiction isn’t like getting over a cold. Substance abuse is a progressive, degenerative mental illness that requires significant lifestyle changes to control.

Hence, people in recovery must make deliberate efforts to remain sober in the future. For example, they can:

  • Draft long-term goals for their life (career growth, marriage, children)
  • Establish a consistent schedule
  • Form social relationships with other sober people
  • Steer clear of recreational activities that involve drugs or alcohol
  • Find solace in different mediums, such as religion, spirituality, social activism, and community service

Aftercare helps recovering addicts stay on track and continue on the path of sobriety. It enables them to become healthier people, better parents/spouses, and more contributive member of society.  

That said, patients must be wary of becoming complacent or overly content with their recovery, as that is often a one-way ticket to relapse. Relapse risks in the advanced recovery stage are as follows.

  • Forgetting or denying that the addiction ever existed  
  • Not attending scheduled self-help meetings
  • Shelving vital self-care habits
  • Juggling too many responsibilities at once
  • Repressing cravings
  • Having a false sense of confidence in being able to control a relapse

The Bottom Line

Understanding the four stages of addiction recovery can help addicts and their loved ones better prepare for what’s to come. Remember that it is possible to beat drug addiction, no matter how far gone you think someone is. Hopefully, this post has given you some insight into the four distinct stages of addiction treatment and what happens in each one.

Are you or a loved one seeking addiction treatment in Utah? At Peak Health & Wellness, we provide compassionate outpatient rehabilitation for individuals battling substance addiction. We tailor our services to suit your unique needs and ensure you receive the best care available. For more information, feel free to contact us today!