Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction doesn’t necessarily refer to a set point in time. It is a process that happens in phases and varies somewhat from person to person. Recovery is the changes that occur as an individual begins to overcome addiction by making better decisions in all areas of life. The four stages of this process are transition, early recovery, middle recovery, and maintenance.
The transition stage is when the person starts understanding that their lifestyle was destructive. They realize that addiction really wasn’t working for them, after all. They see that they need to make some changes because they were hurting themselves and others. This is usually the first three months of recovery, when the person is typically in a treatment program.
In early recovery, the individual starts to make changes in their attitude, behaviors, values, and lifestyle. This is when they practice and develop new habits to live without drugs and alcohol. They begin rebuilding relationships. This stage is usually during the first year, and in general, the person should still be receiving some type of addiction treatment.
In middle recovery, the person works through issues and emotions left over from the past. The process is necessary for long-term addiction recovery. They are now well enough to do this and life a healthy lifestyle at the same time. It typically happens from 1 to 3 years after quitting. Support groups and individual counseling are helpful to process issues from the past.
Maintenance is the last phase of addiction recovery. The individual is used to living without a drug and alcohol addiction. They are actively living out all of the new behaviors and habits that are associated with addiction recovery. Major changes have taken place and new goals can be developed. This usually happens after around 3 years.