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Alcoholism and drug addiction is a disease that develops gradually, and the healing process is also gradual. The specific period it takes to recover from addiction varies from person to person, and it may last anything from a few months to many years. Various factors such as an individual patient’s disposition, the severity of the condition, effectiveness of support systems, etc., may determine the length of the recovery period.

Stages of Alcohol and Drug Rehab Recovery

However, the recovery process takes, it goes through the following steps. The steps were formulated by Psychologists James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente in the 1970s.

1) Pre-contemplation

This is the step where the patient starts to acknowledge the possible adverse effects of their addiction. They, however, try to downplay the impacts or making excuses for the habit. They may argue that they can still work and handle most of their other responsibilities regardless of their drinking. At this point, you will hear many people explain why they drink or use drugs by talking about how stressful their jobs are, how insufferable their relationships are, and so on. At this point, the patient is usually not willing to do what it takes to recover. They may want to change at some level, but they are not ready to engage in the hard work it takes.

2) Contemplation

The patient now acknowledges that they have an addiction problem- they stop arguing with it. At this point, they may try to cut back on alcohol input by themselves and even consider the possibility of seeking help. This stage is characterized by procrastination on the decision to seek help. The patient may give themselves a timeline of some weeks, months, or a year to seek help without a definite timeline. They are thinking about their problem at this stage, but they haven’t set their mind on the solution. The contemplation phase can take years.

3) Preparation

The patient has now made a firm decision to take concrete steps to bring about change, albeit with some ambivalence. They talk to their friends and family about the possibility of change even as they continue drinking or using drugs. The patient should use this time to put a well-thought-out action plan on how to move forward.

4) Action

In this stage, there is no procrastination or ambivalence. The patient has chosen an action plan, and they are executing it. This step takes place in a treatment facility, and the patient will already have started going through the detox process and psychological and social interventions.


The patient has received treatment during the action stage, and they have even been sober for some time. This stage seeks to cement a patient’s habits during the action phase and make them part of the patient’s life. The goal is to prevent the patient from relapsing by helping them develop coping or avoidance mechanisms if they encounter triggers.


The addiction is conquered at this point, and there is no risk of relapse. The patient has adopted a sober lifestyle, and they no longer crave the drugs. The smell of the drugs they once took may even be revolting to them.