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Stages of Recovery


When it comes to addiction, there are many different types including alcohol, drugs, shopping, sex, gambling, etc. Typically, an individual struggling with substance abuse issues go to a detox center where there are medical interventions to help with the withdrawal symptoms. Next, the individual may enter a 30-90-day rehabilitation program equipped to treat the specific type of drug or alcohol abuse they are recovering from. After this inpatient period, an individual may enter an intensive outpatient program, perhaps attending 3-5 days per week for a number of hours. During this time period it is highly recommended that the individual work with a mentor or therapist one-on-one and attend sober support meetings. This is because the complicated part of recovery starts when re-entering society, no longer supervised and supported in a highly-structured environment. It is crucial that an individual struggling with substance abuse issues has the proper tools and support when leaving detox/rehab and going back home, where many triggers and temptations may exist.


There are different stages during the recovery process that individuals may experience. The stages include: Withdrawal, Honeymoon, The Wall, Adjustment, and Maintenance.


Stage 1—Withdrawal (0-15 days): This stage involves detoxing from the drug of choice and can lead to feeling uncomfortable and sick. The intensity of this stage depends on factors such as length and amounts used. It is often recommended to detox in a licensed facility, where the individual can be monitored and medicated as needed.


Stage 2—Honeymoon (16-45 days): This stage is sometimes called “the pink cloud” and involves elated feelings. The individual may feel successful and confident with their recovery, learning to identify triggers, and starting to make major lifestyle changes. It is often advised to be extra cautious during this stage because sometimes overconfidence takes over, which may lead an individual to settings or situations that can trigger a relapse.


Stage 3—The Wall (46-120): When individuals “hit the wall” in their recovery, it often comes as a surprise. The elated feelings diminish and anxiety/irritation may increase. It is recommended to seek support from trusted individuals, attend sober support meetings, and continue working with a counselor during this time period. Having structure and routine is also beneficial in maintaining sobriety and coping with increased feelings of hopelessness.


Stage 4—Adjustment (121-180 days): During this stage, individuals may start to regain hope, energy, and a positive attitude towards the future. A solid routine, structure, and support may be a normal part of daily life and cravings may diminish. People may feel more adjusted to life without the drug of choice, and start practicing acceptance regarding things they cannot change or painful parts of their past.


Stage 5—Maintenance: This stage can last for years and often involves attending meetings regularly, learning to enjoy life sober, and continuing to work on healing. Individuals learn to cope with life stress, manage difficult emotions, and stick to healthy habits.


This cycle is what is most often experienced by individuals in recovery, but duration and experience will differ from one person to the next. If you feel like you are struggling with addiction and need help, speak with a licensed therapist today to discuss your options. You may need a referral to a detox center, or you may benefit from gaining some resources to a local sober support meeting. Or perhaps you are working through some difficult triggers, past trauma, or wanting to learn some better coping strategies. Whatever stage you are in, we have licensed therapists here at 253 Therapy and Consult and we are here to help you. If you are ready to reach out and discuss this issue, call us today!

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