The Stages of Change Model

Radical life changes don’t often come out of thin air. Change begins as an idea and then a motivation and then finally, becomes an action; and this process towards change takes time.

The stages of change theory is a psychological model developed in the 1970s that is used to help patients understand how change occurs and to help treatment providers design interventions matched to each client’s needs at distinct stages.

The Stages of Change

  1. Pre-contemplation – In this first stage, you don’t feel that you have a problem that needs changing and so aren’t thinking seriously about taking any action.
  1. Contemplation – During this second stage, you have come to realize that you do have a problem, but you’re not quite sure yet what, if anything, you want to do about it. You may still very much enjoy your drinking or using (although it does cause some problems) and you’re not sure if you even want to stop…Something to think about.
  1. Preparation – You have decided that change is needed and that change will come. You start thinking about how to accomplish your goal of change.
  1. Action – You take action to make your life change. This could be by going to AA meetings or getting into treatment, for example.
  1. Maintenance – You have achieved your goal of change and now you are trying to maintain it. This stage lasts from 6 months to 5 years in duration.
  1. Termination or Relapse – Eventually (after 5 years) when you no longer have any desire to use and no longer require any external support to stay abstinent; you may consider your change terminated. An alternate to termination in the stages of change model is relapse. Relapse brings a person back full circle to step one again.

A person visiting a website on addiction treatment and reading an article on life change would likely be in the contemplation or preparation stage of change.

If you know you are ready for change and would like to see what treatment options are available in your area, please call the addiction treatment specialists at the National Resource Center at 877-975-1243.