What Happens Next? [A Guide on Addiction Recovery]

What Happens Next? [A Guide on Addiction Recovery]

Substance addiction can be one of the most devastating experiences in life. Unhealthy dependency on drugs has been shown to result in:

  • Strained relationships
  • Permanent criminal record
  • Physical and mental health issues
  • Lost career opportunities


While the negative impact of substance dependency is plain to see, the terrain between addiction and recovery is a challenging one to traverse. People often find themselves discouraged, disappointed, which only results in a longer trajectory toward actual sobriety. 

There’s a 40-60% relapse rate for substance use disorders. These may seem like stark statistics, but understanding the addiction recovery process is an important first step to maximizing your recovery success rate. 

Self-understanding plays a huge role in recovering from crippling drug addiction. Knowing why your behaviour is the way that it is and enacting rational change is a huge force for a positive recovery.

Are you or a loved one attempting to recover from the terrible effects of addiction? You may be wondering how to stop drug addiction at the root to ensure a safe drug addiction recovery. 

In this article, you’ll learn about how to deal with addiction, what happens next when you commit to addiction recovery, and the best way to prepare for the process.

Five Stages of Addiction Recovery

The five stages of addiction recovery are useful not just for clinicians, but also for patients seeking a deeper level of self-understanding that might aid them in how to access drug rehab

  • Precontemplation Stage
  • Contemplation Stage
  • Preparation Stage
  • Action Stage
  • Maintenance Stage


Let’s break down what each of these stages mean.

Precontemplation Stage

precontemplation stage

People who are in the pre-contemplation stage tend to be defensive about their addictive behaviour. They focus on the benefits of drug use while overlooking the downsides. 

Addicts at this point are not open to treatment. This could be due to:

  • Lack of education. Not understanding addiction might cause them to justify their behaviour through a misconstrued framework.
  • No faith. People in this stage believe they have no hopes of recovering.
  • Several failed attempts at recovery. The high rate of relapse for substance disorders can lead patients to become cynical, unwilling to receive treatment once more.


Even if an addict believes they are too far gone for treatment, the truth is that anyone can recover from any stage of addiction with the proper preparation and support.

Contemplation Stage

Moving into the contemplation stage, patients accept the idea that drug addiction may have a negative impact on their life and open up to the idea of undertaking treatment. They aren’t yet ready to receive care but are more likely to listen to reason on how to deal with addiction.

Keep in mind that you should never be shaming addicted people in your life. This will only cause them to close off and prevent them from proceeding to the next stage. Treating them with empathy and respect is the only way they will stay open to the possibility of treatment.

Preparation Stage

The preparation stage marks a shift in desire. Addicted people in this stage understand the benefits of sobriety and are preparing to strive for change. Common courses of action include:

  • Visiting a counsellor
  • Researching addiction services
  • Attempting to quit


There’s a feeling of urgency in which the patient actively thinks about how to stop drug addiction and how to deal with addiction. Although this can push a patient to reform their behaviour and get sober for a while, many find themselves struggling to maintain sobriety due to social triggers.

Action Stage

action stage

In the action stage, the patient is taking action to stay sober. They are committed to making a change in their life. At this point, they have an understanding of how negatively addiction has impacted them.

All the same, it can be a challenge to stay on the right track. 

Being motivated to stay sober will likely help addicted people maintain periods of abstinence. However, they still need professional drug addiction recovery assistance to stay away from relapse.

Maintenance Stage

At a certain point, patients will appear to reach a plateau stage where they work to keep up the lifestyle shifts they’ve made to prevent relapse. They are maintaining new habits that are keeping them on the straight and narrow, which may include:

  • Receiving professional counselling
  • Participating in support groups
  • Managing stress levels
  • Exercising regularly


Living a healthier lifestyle can do wonders for people struggling with how to stop drug addiction. However, you’ll have to stay vigilant in your drug addiction recovery process if you want to keep your results positive. 

Thankfully, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The relapse rate is high for short-term recovery. For those who make it to five years of sobriety, however, you have less than 15% of relapsing. You need long-term changes in habit to ensure you don’t lose your progress.

Let’s break the stages down in a quick chart:

Stage What Does it Look Like? 
Precontemplation Stage Defensiveness about addiction, unwillingness to change, lack of faith in the recovery process
Contemplation Stage Opening up to the idea that addiction is a negative force in life, increased interest in receiving drug addiction recovery treatment
Preparation Stage Understands the benefits of sobriety, preparing for addiction recovery, remains easily susceptible to social triggers
Action Stage Taking action to stay sober, has self-understanding of drug addiction’s negative influence, can maintain periods of abstinence but needs support to remain sober
Maintenance Stage Actively maintaining healthy habits, gaining confidence in their ability to stay sober, decreasing dependency on addictive behaviours

With this understanding of addiction and recovery in mind, now it’s time to take a look at how one should prepare for the recovery process.

How to Prepare for Each Stage of the Recovery Process

drug addiction recovery

Getting sober is going to be challenging no matter what, but there’s preparation work you can do to make the process easier. Stage by stage, let’s review how you can prepare for the drug addiction recovery process.


It’s hard to force substantial change at this stage since the addicted individual is usually still in denial about their problem. Nevertheless, there are a few steps loved ones can take to prepare for the early stages of treatment.

  1. Learning about the addiction recovery process. Gaining an early understanding of addiction recovery may help addicts feel that recovery isn’t so unattainable.
  2. Reconsider denial. Even if the patient can’t fully shake a defensive mindset, they can start working through the reasons why they are in denial about addiction. Denial might be due to fear of failing at recovery, or a host of other reasons.
  3. Figure out addiction mindsets. How do they feel about their addiction and recovery? Are they intimidated by how to deal with addiction? Understanding their mental roadblocks will help them move through them down the line.


In the early stages, compassionate non-judgemental listening may be the best approach to addiction.


When patients open up the idea of accepting change in their lives, it’s the perfect time to start preparing more actively for drug addiction recovery.

  1. Identifying triggers. What are social or environmental triggers leading to addictive behaviour? Removing these triggers before jumping into the recovery process can be extremely helpful and improve the success rate of a drug addiction recovery.
  2. Studying addiction. Fully understanding the negative impact of addiction on oneself in addition to loved ones may provide better motivation to strive for recovery. If your loved one is an addict, be frank with them about how their addiction is affecting you.
  3. Finding information about the best addiction services. If the patient is equipped with a basic understanding of drug addiction recovery, it’s time for them to start receiving more information about what intervention and treatment programs they might enlist to help with their recovery process.


The main course of action here is to open up from contemplation into a more proactive attitude. With a better understanding of what’s triggering their behaviour, the patient should be able to take steps toward accepting treatment.


support from loved ones

People are already taking early action to ease themselves away from addiction, although their efforts may still be limited. Here is how to help:

  1. Learn about intensive treatment options. Normally the next step forward from the preparation stage is to attend an inpatient or outpatient program. Knowing what’s next can be immensely helpful for a patient who is attending counselling and looking for further improvements.
  2. Receive support from loved ones. Friends and family can make or break a treatment plan. The addict is gearing up for a challenging road to sobriety. At this stage, they need to hear statements of support from their loved ones to empower their journey.
  3. Seeking counselling. If the patient isn’t already doing this, they should be. Receiving professional advice on how to stop drug addiction will guide someone from preparation to action.


Preparing for active treatment is a huge step. The patient should receive every aspect of support possible from their counsellors, friends, and family to increase the odds of success.


Reaching the action stage is a sign that the patient is making great progress. Here are some great ways to prepare for the action stage:

  1. Register for an inpatient/outpatient program. Signing up for an official addiction services program can make a huge difference in recovery and assist the patient in making the next step toward sobriety.
  2. Improve self-care. There’s been an increased level of self-understanding throughout the last few stages, but at the action stage, the patient needs to take time to initiate self-care rituals for better recovery. This might be something as simple as finding proper time for rest, developing a workout routine, or practicing mindfulness.
  3. Explore other methods of healing from addiction. Addiction services are the main way one can recover from a debilitating addiction issue. However, at the action stage, the patient needs to make holistic changes in their lifestyle in order to maximize success. Establishing a routine of support through a healthy lifestyle, reaffirmation from loved ones, and other methods can be the deciding factor in drug addiction recovery.


How to deal with addiction is never the same for different people. At the action stage, your preparation work should involve each of the elements for recovery: emotional, mental, physical. Addiction is woven into the fibre of your being after a while, and breaking the physical and mental addiction is a huge undertaking. 


While the maintenance stage may appear the most consistent from the outside, it requires hard work to maintain over time. What steps should an addict take to prepare for this stage?

  1. Maintain counselling. While it may be tempting to stop receiving counselling once one is out of a clinical environment, professional guidance is needed to stay sober and ensure the progress isn’t lost.
  2. Seek out real-life support systems. At this point of treatment, the patient may no longer be attending inpatient or outpatient programs. Nonetheless, they’ll need real-life support systems to maintain their mindset and ensure they have the motivation for recovery even during challenging moments. Friends, family, and addiction recovery group meetings can serve this purpose.
  3. Dealing with environmental triggers. Now is a good time to reevaluate your environment and search for potential environmental triggers. You’ll need to learn how to deal with stressful situations that might lead to relapse. The best course of action is either removing yourself from the situation or establishing an emotional routine to get through tough times.


At this point, the patient should have a deep understanding of how to stop drug addiction and just need further maintenance on their part. They need to be prepared for a long period of continuous recovery and find the determination to stay sober. 

Need help breaking it down? Here’s a handy chart to reference for each step of prep work.

Stage How to Prepare
Precontemplation Learn about addiction recovery

Rethink denial

Understanding mental roadblocks

Contemplation Identify triggers

Learn about addiction

Research best addiction services

Preparation Study intensive treatment options

Receive support from loved ones

Seek counselling

Action Register for an inpatient/outpatient program

Improve self-care

Explore other methods of healing from addiction

Maintenance Maintain counselling

Seek out real life support systems

Learn to deal with environmental triggers

This may seem like a lot of work, but being prepared is half the battle. Anticipating what challenges might be faced down the road will only help the addict heal faster. Most importantly, they won’t be afraid to pick themselves up even after a few slip-ups.

The Importance of Aftercare

importance of aftercare

Staying sober isn’t a single-step process. Maintaining sobriety takes constant work. The addict will often have to chip away at addictive behaviours over the course of months or years in order to finally achieve a normal life. 

Just like any other chronic disease, drug addiction recovery requires sticking to major lifestyle changes. Continuous aftercare is one of the only ways the patient will stay sober. As mentioned previously, relapse is a huge issue for many addicts. Addiction forms through fixation, which turns into compulsion over time as the regular brain develops an unhealthy reliance on substances. Breaking the habit is key to getting better.

So what does aftercare look like for the addiction and recovery journey? Here are a few examples:

  • Outpatient programs
  • Counselling
  • Support groups


Finding what works for you is a very individual process. Don’t be afraid to try out various types of aftercare. No matter which of these it is, aftercare will improve your chances of sobriety.

How and Where to Get Help During Your Recovery Journey

With all that said and done, you might still be intimidated to embark on this journey, whether for yourself or for a loved one. How to stop drug addiction, the best way to deal with relapse, what kind of treatment to seek at each step of recovery…none of these are easy questions to answer, even with the internet at your fingertips.

Seeking out professional addiction services is a great way to empower your drug addiction recovery. But what should you look for in an expert?

Let’s take Andy Bhatti Intervention and Addiction Services as an example. They provide:

  • Qualified drug and alcohol interventions
  • Professional counselling for addicted individuals
  • Addiction treatment facility referral
  • Customized treatment plans
  • Long-term recovery support


You want a professional counsellor who can support you or your loved one through every single stage of your addiction recovery journey. Addiction services are a crucial force in recovery, and it’s important that you confirm their qualifications and credentials before receiving treatment. Attending treatment with an experienced interventionist and counsellor can make all the difference in improving your addiction.


Addiction recovery is by no means an easy journey. At the same time, it’s possible to prepare for each stage of the process through hard work, dedication, and learning. Ultimately, you want to:

  • Understand addiction
  • Seek professional treatment
  • Establish a healthy lifestyle
  • Find support systems


Understanding and maintaining compassion for yourself is key. With the right attitude and treatment, you’ll be able to achieve and maintain sobriety. It’s a long path, but will ultimately reward you with renewed passion in life, a better relationship with friends and family, and improved health. 

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