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6 Tips for Each Stage of Addiction Recovery

by Will Long

December 24, 2022
adults joining hands in a group to show support for one another

Recovering from an alcohol or drug disorder during addiction recovery can be hard. That’s why every person who seeks addiction treatment should learn techniques to help maintain their recovery along the way. This helps each and every person work on improving their outcomes and making their life as enjoyable as possible. Here are six tips for three different stages of recovery for those looking to augment their journey.

Early Recovery

Early recovery is the stage when someone has taken the first step towards dealing with their substance use disorder. This is when they agree to go to an addiction treatment center to begin either a rehab or detox program. It ends when they have successfully completed treatment and have learned how to deal with triggers and cravings. During the early recovery stage you’ll gain core techniques for maintaining your day-to-day progress. The most important things learned in this stage are methods to remain firmly in recovery from commonplace drug use. Follow these tips to get through early recovery, but remember, don’t rush things. Recovery isn’t a destination. It’s a lifestyle. 

Establish tangible goals for your recovery.

Establishing goals as a way of making sure you maintain recovery throughout your journey is a great way to motivate yourself. Short term goals help those in recovery make sure they can put one foot in front of the other in their day-to-day life. Long term goals make sure that those in recovery have their eyes on the prize: a life absent of abused substances. Being focused on tangible goals helps those in recovery to not lose sight of their well-being, too.

Maintain a routine.

With a routine, you can shape your daily life to revolve around techniques to maintain recovery. Routines can be established in rehab as you follow your therapy and treatment schedule, which is crafted by your treatment professionals with the achievement of optimal outcomes in mind. Letting those carry over into everyday life can help you craft a routine that helps you remain abstinent of your drug of choice.

Make finding support a priority.

Joining an Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous group is a great way to find support and accountability on your journey. Other alternatives to these groups exist and are willing to help you achieve the best outcomes possible.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Ask for help from those who can give you the support you need. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family members that continue to cheer you on through your journey to lasting recovery. If you have support from friends and family, then they can help you achieve your goals and stay on track through any help you might ask for.

Open up to your therapist.

Opening up about the trauma that may have influenced your addiction can help your therapist treat you more effectively. Part of this is making sure you’re paired with the right therapist. Not every therapist works well with those in treatment! Sometimes you may need to try new ones to find the right fit, but once you find the right one, make sure to create a plan for therapy with them so that you have tangible goals to work towards.

Don’t make any drastic life changes before putting your early recovery tips into practice.

Making drastic life changes in the earliest parts of your recovery can cause regression in your progress. This makes your situation less stable as you work towards full recovery, and can even cause a relapse if the changes are severe.

Full Recovery

This is the period beginning after completion of residential or inpatient addiction treatment to being fully in active recovery once you’ve left the treatment center. At this point, you will have absorbed all of the core techniques used to maintain your recovery but may be at high risk of relapse. This stage can be maintained if you stay connected with support groups, have a sponsor and continue treatment when you relapse. Communication with treatment professionals is still maintained for recovery support. Here’s some tips to help you stay in full recovery mode. 

Maintain a line of communication between you and treatment professionals.

Relapse odds are high after a single rehab stay, but issues that arise with relapsing or slip-ups can be tackled by treatment professionals when they arise. Make sure you have the contact information for the rehab center that treated you on hand so you can call them when issues arise.

Avoid triggers.

Avoiding triggers can take a lot of effort, but it’s one that will pay off in spades as you avoid a relapse or falling back into behaviors that cause substance abuse. Remember to stay away from situations that might cause you to enter a particular emotional state or tempt you through the increased availability of your drug of choice.

Fight through every relapse and slip.

Ending your recovery journey once you relapse or slip just once can be avoided if you make sure to reach out to treatment professionals when it happens.

Address past mistakes.

Addressing mistakes you might’ve made while using substances is a large part of learning how to forgive yourself along the path to a better life. No matter how loved ones might react to you seeking forgiveness or making wrongs right, this is the right thing to do for yourself.

Encourage those just starting their journey.

Turning around and encouraging those that are beginning their recovery journey is an excellent practice. This helps build a positive feedback loop in environments where recovery skills are being learned. Those successfully finishing the beginning part of the journey encouraging those just beginning is how you can help continue the cycle of positive treatment outcomes.

Celebrate your wins!

Celebrating the things that you’ve achieved in the beginning of your recovery can help you continue down the road to recovery successfully. Everything you win at can help you feel good about yourself and the progress you’ve made. Don’t be afraid to celebrate yourself sometimes!

Long-Term Recovery

Those in recovery know they’ve been in long-term recovery when they’ve successfully put all of the lessons learned into practice and have been able to avoid relapse. This is the stage where you have been tested and remained committed to recovery. You’ve likely experienced fewer cravings, have connected with a supportive group of people and no longer worry about triggers. Instead, you know how to deal with them. The best ways to stay in long-term recovery are:

Learn new skills.

Learning new skills and pushing yourself to try new things can keep your mind healthy and focused on other important things in life. It helps you to focus on things besides a substance use disorder that might have previously been a time sink. Learning new skills and developing hobbies also helps you gain more knowledge about yourself and the world in the process.

Develop healthy practices, including physical activity and healthy eating.

Exercise does wonders for the human body. The right combination of cortisol and dopamine, spurred on through a run or a lifted barbell, can help you feel much better about yourself over time. It helps regulate the body’s reward system and can spur you on to even greater heights in your recovery. Eating right can help you stay healthy as well. 

Maintain your integrity as a form of accountability.

Making sure you remain full of integrity is a way to stay accountable to yourself throughout recovery. This means making sure you take care of the things you couldn’t or didn’t when battling a substance use disorder.

Volunteer as a way of maintaining good spiritual health.

Volunteering as a way of giving back to your community is a valuable activity in maintaining your spiritual health along the way. Since your community has given so much to help you achieve the life you’ve always wanted, why not give back through acts of service? Your community will thank you and you will feel a sense of pride and achievement at the things you’ve done for others.

Keep going to meetings.

Make sure you keep your routine of going to support group meetings. Having that network of those who understand your plight is important in ensuring that you remain on the straight and narrow road to lifelong recovery. They can also put you in contact with others who may offer valuable advice or relevant addiction treatment services.

Mentor new rehab patients.

Giving back through mentoring new patients at a recovery center can help you stray accountable to the principles you espouse and can help you pour the things you’ve learned into those new to recovery. Your experienced wisdom may come in handy to someone someday!

Other Stages of Addiction Recovery

It’s essential to recognize that addiction recovery is a process that happens in stages. People don’t just quit their addictive behaviors overnight. Instead, they move through various phases, each with its challenges and rewards. Here are the main stages of recovery that one can expect to experience:

Precontemplation Stage of Recovery

The precontemplation stage is also known as the pre-recovery stage. In this phase, individuals are not yet aware that they have a problem or are unwilling to admit it. They may not see the need for change, and they’re likely not considering quitting their addictive behavior.

Stages of Change Addiction Model

The stages of change model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, is a helpful tool for understanding the different phases an individual goes through during addiction recovery. There are six stages of change in recovery: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and termination. These stages can be applied to both substance addictions and behavioral addictions.

Stages of Recovery from Alcoholism

Recovering from alcoholism follows a similar pattern to other addictions, but with some specific stages related to alcohol use. These stages include detoxification, rehabilitation, and ongoing recovery. Detoxification is the process of ridding the body of alcohol, while rehabilitation involves learning new coping skills and strategies to avoid relapse. Ongoing recovery includes maintaining sobriety and addressing underlying issues that contributed to the addiction.

Mental Health Recovery Stages

Mental health recovery stages are crucial in addiction recovery because mental health and addiction often go hand in hand. These stages include establishing a sense of hope, empowerment, and self-determination, followed by developing healthy coping strategies and support systems.

The Roadmap to Recovery Matrix

The roadmap to recovery matrix is a helpful tool that outlines the various stages of recovery and provides guidance on what to expect at each stage. This matrix can help individuals navigate their journey through recovery and recognize potential roadblocks along the way.

Navigating the Roadmap to Recovery: A Comprehensive Guide

Recovering from addiction is a complex and often challenging journey. The path to sobriety and a healthier lifestyle involves various stages, each with its unique challenges and opportunities. To better understand this journey, we can use the Roadmap to Recovery Matrix, a tool that provides a clear and concise overview of the stages of recovery. We will explore each stage of the roadmap and offer insights and strategies to help individuals navigate their path to recovery.


The precontemplation stage is the beginning of the recovery journey, where individuals may not yet recognize that they have a problem or are unwilling to admit it. They may not see the need for change or consider quitting their addictive behavior.

  • Challenges & Roadblocks: Denial, lack of awareness, resistance
  • Strategies & Support: Education, awareness, motivational interviewing

During this stage, it’s essential to raise awareness about the issue and provide information about the consequences of addiction. Friends and family can play a crucial role by offering non-judgmental support and encouragement. Motivational interviewing can also be an effective technique to help individuals move to the next stage of recovery.


In the contemplation stage, individuals become aware of their addiction and begin to weigh the pros and cons of change. They may consider seeking help but may still be ambivalent or fearful about the process.

  • Challenges & Roadblocks: Fear of change, ambivalence
  • Strategies & Support: Support groups, therapy, self-reflection, pros and cons lists

To overcome the challenges of this stage, individuals can benefit from attending support groups, engaging in therapy, and practicing self-reflection. Creating a pros and cons list can help clarify the advantages and disadvantages of change, making it easier to commit to recovery.


The preparation stage involves planning for change and gathering resources. Individuals may set goals, develop a support system, and create a detailed plan for recovery.

  • Challenges & Roadblocks: Procrastination, uncertainty
  • Strategies & Support: Goal setting, assembling a support system, developing a plan

In this stage, individuals should focus on setting realistic and achievable goals, identifying potential obstacles, and outlining specific steps to overcome them. Assembling a strong support system and seeking professional guidance can be immensely helpful during this time.


During the action stage, individuals put their plans into motion by seeking treatment, attending therapy, and engaging in support groups. This stage is where the actual work of recovery begins.

  • Challenges & Roadblocks: Temptations, setbacks
  • Strategies & Support: Accountability, therapy, support groups, coping strategies

To overcome challenges in the action stage, individuals should establish accountability measures, such as regular check-ins with support groups or therapists. Developing healthy coping strategies and creating a relapse prevention plan can also be helpful in maintaining progress.


In the maintenance stage, individuals focus on sustaining the positive changes they’ve made, preventing relapse, and continuing personal growth.

  • Challenges & Roadblocks: Complacency, triggers, stress
  • Strategies & Support: Ongoing support, self-care, monitoring progress, continued learning

Maintaining sobriety and personal growth requires ongoing support, self-care, and vigilance. Regular check-ins with therapists and support groups can help individuals stay on track and manage stress. Engaging in self-care practices and continuing to learn about addiction and recovery can also be beneficial.

Termination (Optional)

The termination stage is where individuals consider themselves fully recovered, with no risk of relapse, and addiction is no longer a concern. However, this stage is optional, as some people may prefer to view themselves in lifelong maintenance to remain vigilant against potential relapse.

  • Challenges & Roadblocks: Overconfidence
  • Strategies & Support: Maintain healthy habits, ongoing personal development, self-awareness

In the termination stage, it’s essential to remain self-aware and avoid becoming overconfident. Maintaining healthy habits, engaging in ongoing personal development, and staying connected to support networks can help ensure long-term success in recovery. Regular self-reflection and continued learning about addiction and recovery can also help individuals stay vigilant and focused on their well-being.


The Roadmap to Recovery Matrix offers a comprehensive framework to help individuals understand and navigate the various stages of addiction recovery. By recognizing the challenges and roadblocks at each stage, individuals can develop effective strategies and seek appropriate support to make lasting, positive changes in their lives.

Recovery is a lifelong journey, and having a clear roadmap can make all the difference in achieving and maintaining sobriety. Whether you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, understanding the stages of recovery, and utilizing the strategies and support outlined in this article can provide a strong foundation for success.

Stages of Recovery by Gorski

Terence Gorski, a renowned addiction expert, developed a model of recovery that focuses on relapse prevention. His stages of recovery, known as the Gorski relapse prevention model, include stabilization, early recovery, middle recovery, late recovery, and maintenance.

Stages of Recovery: Honeymoon Wall

The honeymoon wall refers to a point in early recovery when individuals may experience a surge of optimism and enthusiasm, followed by a sudden crash of emotions. This “wall” can be a challenging time for many in recovery, as they may feel overwhelmed by the reality of their situation and the long road ahead.

What Are the 6 Stages of Recovery?

As mentioned earlier, the six stages of change in recovery are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and termination. These stages help individuals recognize where they are in their recovery journey and what steps they need to take to move forward.

What Are the 4 Stages of Recovery?

While the six-stage model is more commonly used, some experts also refer to a simplified four-stage model of recovery. These four stages include precontemplation, contemplation, action, and maintenance. In this model, the preparation and termination stages are combined with the action and maintenance stages, respectively. This streamlined approach can still provide a useful framework for understanding the recovery process.

Relapse Stages of Change

Relapse is a common occurrence during addiction recovery, but understanding the relapse stages of change can help individuals identify warning signs and take preventive measures. The stages of relapse include emotional, mental, and physical relapse. Emotional relapse involves experiencing negative emotions and not properly addressing them, while mental relapse involves thinking about using substances or engaging in addictive behaviors again. Physical relapse is the act of returning to addictive behavior.

Learn More

To learn more about Landmark Recovery’s treatment options and how we can help you achieve your wildest dreams, call us at 888-448-0302 today to speak with an admissions specialist. Our specialists can help you find the best options for getting where you want to be in life through effective addiction treatment,

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About the Author

Will Long

Will Long

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Long has been a writer for Landmark Recovery since 2021. He specializes in research and writing about substance abuse from a scientific and social perspective. Unearthing information from underexplored, far-flung corners of the Internet, Long’s passion is finding emerging trends in substance use and treatment that the public should know about.