The ‘stages of change’ model for overcoming addiction

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Phoenix Durban

Addiction is destroying individuals and families. Addiction may be in the form of drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping or sex.
The ‘stages of change’ model is built on research and is a way of describing the process by which people overcome addiction.  Elizabeth Hartney (2018: verywellmind) describes the following stages of change model:
Model of overcoming addiction
The stages are pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, and action. Additional stages of maintenance and relapse may be included. People can move backwards or forwards in any of these stages.
The word ‘contemplation’ means to consider carefully or think about something deeply.
The pre-contemplation stage
In the pre-contemplation stage, people do not consider their behaviour to be a problem. This may be due to the fact that they do not experience any negative consequences of their behaviour, or because they are in denial about the negative consequences. In this stage, they are not interested in any advice.
The contemplation stage

In this stage, people think about moderating or stopping their addiction. They are receptive to learning about how to quit, without committing to any one of them. This stage concludes with the decision to change their addictive behaviour.
The preparation stage
The person has advanced to planning and preparing for carrying out changes. The person may get rid of substances that he is using, consider how to make changes, research support structures such as psycho-social or admit himself to a detox/ rehabilitation centre.
The action stage
The action stage is where real change happens. It may start in a detox/ treatment centre or in a rehabilitation centre where there are trained professionals to help one through this phase. Identifying and developing effective ways of coping with stress are important at this stage.
The maintenance stage
This stage has to do with continuing to achieve the progress made in the action stage. One has to uphold the goals made in the various areas of one’s life. Relapse can occur because of complacency or stress.
The relapse stage
Relapse can occur before full maintenance is achieved depending on the individual’s commitment and whether he/she is utilizing support structures regularly.
Early referral and treatment is crucial in the fight against addiction.

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