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5 Stages of Addiction Recovery

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

May 13, 2024

Table of Contents

Article at a Glance

  • The five stages of addiction recovery are precontemplation, contemplation, recognizing the problem, preparation, deciding to make a change
  • The action stage involves actively modifying behavior and environment to overcome addiction, while maintenance includes sustained effort and strategies to prevent relapse
  • Understanding these stages helps individuals and therapists create targeted treatments and supports long-term recovery by recognizing the challenges at each stage

Addiction, clinically described as substance use disorder, is a chronic and relapsing brain condition. Fortunately, addiction is treatable with evidence-based interventions like MAT (medication-assisted treatment), behavioral therapies, and counseling.

Individuals with severe addictions, co-occurring mental health disorders, or unstable environments usually find that inpatient programs provide the most structured pathway to recovery. Whereas someone with a less severe addiction may only need outpatient care.

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Need help getting addiction treatment?

If you’re ready to get help for an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or prescription medications, read on to learn more about the 5 stages of addiction recovery.

What Are The 5 Stages of Recovery from Addiction?

Addiction is treatable on a continuum of care from detox, to inpatient rehab, to outpatient programs, allowing everyone to get help with an appropriate level of support based on their unique needs.

The 5 stages of addiction recovery can be categorized as follows:

1) Detox

Detox is the first step of addiction treatment.

Supervised medical detox helps anyone who is dependent on drugs or alcohol withdrawal from the substance safely and comfortably. Unsupervised withdrawal can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening.

Many people withdrawing from alcohol or opioids find that FDA-approved medications reduce the intensity of cravings and withdrawal symptoms. MAT can be beneficial both during detox and throughout ongoing treatment.

The first stage of addiction recovery, then, helps people tackle physical dependence and stabilizes them for ongoing treatment.

2) Inpatient

Inpatient treatment is the most intensive form of treatment. Inpatient programs involve individuals remaining at the rehab facility for 30 to 90 days or more while engaging with intensive and immersive treatment in a residential setting.

Most people at inpatient rehab begin the process with detoxification as outlined above. After a week or so, ongoing treatment involves an individualized blend of therapies like MAT, CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), and counseling. Most inpatient programs also offer access to holistic interventions like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga to supplement evidence-based practices.

Your time at inpatient rehab is highly structured, involving therapy sessions as well as communal meals, group meetings, and time for preparation and relaxation in the evenings.


IOP (intensive outpatient program) and PHP (partial hospitalization program) sit between inpatient and outpatient rehab.

IOP offers a highly flexible approach to treatment, enabling people to maintain their day-to-day routines while going through the recovery process. IOPs usually include group therapy sessions held several times weekly for a few hours and are supplemented by individual therapy sessions. Intensive outpatient treatment is especially beneficial for those who require treatment but also need to remain anchored to their personal and professional commitments.

PHP offers a more comprehensive level of care and is the most intensive form of outpatient addiction treatment. Participants spend most of their days on five or six days of the week engaging with a mix of individual and group therapy sessions alongside holistic and therapeutic activities. PHP may include medication management and supplementary support services.

4) Outpatient

Outpatient rehab treatment is the least intensive stage of recovery, often serving as a step-down from more structured programs like IOP or PHP. This type of treatment is ideal for people who have made significant progress in their recovery journeys and are ready to test their newfound stability while still under professional care.

Participants in outpatient treatment usually engage with therapy for a few hours per week, which allows them to integrate recovery efforts seamlessly with their regular life commitments. This approach helps people transition smoothly into everyday life without the intensive support previously required.

5) Aftercare

The final stage of addiction recovery is arguably the most important. A comprehensive aftercare component to treatment could mean the difference between ongoing recovery and relapse.

Many people who go to residential rehab step down to some form of outpatient treatment to ease the transition to sober living

Peer support groups like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), NA (Narcotics Anonymous), or SMART Recovery can be a useful part of the ongoing recovery process for many people. Addiction support groups provide accountability, sober support, and the opportunity to share coping mechanisms with those who have lived experience of substance use disorder.

Relapse prevention techniques and coping strategies imparted in rehab can reduce the chance of relapse. That said, data show that up to 60% of people will relapse at least once during the stages of recovery. If this occurs, it should be viewed as an opportunity to adjust the ongoing recovery plan rather than as a failure.

Get Help for Addiction Recovery at Renaissance Recovery

If you or someone that you care about needs support overcoming addiction to drugs, alcohol, or prescription medications, we can help you at Renaissance Recovery.

We can connect you with licensed medical detox centers throughout California and Florida, enabling you to address the issue of drug or alcohol dependence and prepare yourself for ongoing outpatient treatment at one of our outpatient programs.

Begin your recovery from addiction right away by calling Renaissance at 866.330.9449 and learn how you can get the process started.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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