Stages of Change


Precontemplation

Contemplation

Preparation

Action

Maintenance

Relapse

Pre-contemplation
In this stage, an individual may not even recognize that she or he has a problem. People are not yet thinking about changing their behavior directly, and may believe that other people are
overreacting to them and their behaviors. Reasons to be in precontemplation can be broken down into four categories:
•Reluctant: May not have enough information to identify the problem.
•Rebellious: Are so habituated to their behaviors that they become hostile or resistant.
They do not perceive that they have choices and options and do perceive suggestions as
“being told what to do.”
•Resigned: Believe in the inability to change and thus remain stuck.
•Rationalizing: Take the time to think out their behaviors and justify their choices. The
problems are someone else’s.

Go back to the top
Contemplation
This is the openness to consider that a problem exists, and that there may be a need to change one’s behaviors in order to correct that problem. A commitment to change has not yet been made; there is not yet direct action although one may undertake to learn more about the nature of
the problem.

Go back to the top
Preparation
The person has made a decision to stop using, to make a change. This Stage is referred to as Preparation, as the person begins planning a course of action to initiate change in their life.

Go back to the top
Action
The person recognizes and admits that a problem exists, and has developed a plan to make changes. They modifies their behaviors, environment, relationships, and experiences to overcome the problem. Then puts the plan hey made in the Preparation stage into action.

Go back to the top
Maintenance
Change has been achieved - a pattern of addictive behaviors has been replaced with sobriety and strides into recovery. In Maintenance, the person recognizes the benefits of successful change, however, work must still be done as the risks remain for returning to old behaviors.

Go back to the top
Relapse
It has been said that “Relapse is part of recovery” and as such, the person must be on guard
against triggers to relapse. If a relapse does occur, the person must re-enter a Stage such as
Contemplation or Determination. In some cases, the person returns back to Precontemplation.

Information courtesy of the Oregon Judicial Department
-Adapted from Prochaska, J.O., & DiClemente, C.C. (1984). The Transtheoretical Approach:
Crossing traditional boundaries of therapy. Homewood, IL: Dow Jones-Irwin

Other Addiction FAQ Pages