5 Stages of Outpatient Addiction Recovery

What Are The Stages of Outpatient Addiction Recovery?

Addiction to substances doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual process as a result of continued use and dependence. In a similar fashion, recovery from substance abuse will also take time. It will be a long and challenging process, but always well worth it in the end. 

With that said, there are five different stages in outpatient addiction recovery. Each step presents unique challenges to the patient.

Here’s a quick walkthrough of the different stages of recovery and how each stage is different from the other.

What are the Stages of Outpatient Addiction Recovery?

There are five stages in addiction recovery, but they are usually grouped into three primary categories — 

  • the early stage, which includes pre-contemplation, contemplation, and preparation; 
  • the action stage or middle stage;
  • and maintenance or late stage. 

These stages affect the patients because of factors like reluctance to undergo treatment, the severity of addiction, and other underlying health conditions.

1. Precontemplation

The precontemplation stage is the most complicated stage in the recovery process. At this stage, the patient isn’t ready to recover from the substance abuse or is unaware of the treatments above. Patients also continue to justify their actions at this stage, thinking that their actions are not considered an addiction. 

The lack of information in this stage can often make the addiction more severe. However, awareness of addiction recovery programs can go a long way in encouraging the patient to enter rehab. During pre-contemplation, family members and friends can extend emotional and financial support to encourage their loved ones to enter treatment.

2. Contemplation

The start of this stage is realizing the need to get better, but also accepting that they probably cannot do it on their own. Hence, there’s also a strong urge to look for treatment. 

For patients to reach this stage, constant awareness and drug education will help them realize the benefits of being drug-free, which would result in a stronger resolve and desire to get better.

The key to moving on from this stage is reinforcement and unwavering support. Family members and friends must express their full support and help the patient start the recovery journey. It also means staying away from judgment, avoiding blame, and stopping accusations.

3. Preparation

outpatient drug rehab centers near me
Source: Pexels

The preparation stage marks the success of the contemplation stage, though there’s still more work to do. The patient, at this stage, had already made a conscious decision about sobriety. Though the actions taken at this stage are still “baby steps,” the patient still needs constant reinforcement and support to continue. During this stage, the patient is more willing to see a counselor or visit a treatment center.

However, as the last stage in the early phase of recovery, the patient can go back to square one at any moment. Even if the patient has already thought of sobriety, they can still return to the pre-contemplation or contemplation stage in times of distress and difficult situations. In such instances, they can do a simple search for ‘outpatient dual diagnosis near me’ to help prepare them for treatment.

A professional diagnosis can help the patient and their loved ones with the next best steps and what treatment facility to choose.

5. Action

Prolonged abstinence and continued treatments will lead to the action stage. At this point of the recovery process, the patient believes in the capabilities of professional treatment to help them reach ultimate sobriety. The action stage is a milestone for the patient because it shows how commitment and dedication to getting better coupled with therapy and other treatments can lead to recovery.

This stage is also about living a renewed purpose in life and focusing on self-care. There is already a significant change in behavior and way of life. The commitment to change is stronger, and the patient’s quality of life has improved.

Though the patient is already in a better state of living, the tendency for relapse is never remote. 

Distress and triggers can still destroy the patient’s progress, but continued treatment can help them develop healthy coping mechanisms that would discourage them from going back to their “old habits.” In case of a relapse, the patient should inform their counselor for immediate intervention and assistance. 

6. Maintenance

The patient is already sober at this stage. There is still a tendency to relapse, but unlikely. The maintenance stage is evident if the patient exhibits signs of healthy living such as eating right, staying sober, regular exercise, socializing, and performing well at work or school. 

Ongoing maintenance also means attending support groups and meetings for a stronger sense of community among people with the same problem.

The distinguishing factor of this stage is the decreased likelihood of relapse or even the thought of relapsing. The patient should work towards building confidence and self-trust. Having a strong mental fortitude can help prevent relapse or strengthen healthy coping mechanisms. 

Being sober for at least two to five years is a sign of treatment success.

The Importance of Aftercare Treatment

outpatient dual diagnosis near me
Source: Pexels

Upon reaching the maintenance stage, aftercare follows. Long-term sobriety doesn’t equate to being cured of addiction. As a chronic illness, only time will tell if the person has truly recovered. Aftercare treatment strengthens the foundation built during the recovery process. Signing up for outpatient alcohol and drug addiction recovery programs is a form of aftercare treatment, even if the frequency of sessions can range from monthly to quarterly.

Occasionally attending meetings and support groups are also forms of aftercare treatment to continue the patient’s recovery. At this point, the patient must be already busy with work or other commitments. Hence, attending these activities can still be done only during day-offs or weekends.

Outpatient Drug Rehab Centers Near Me

There is no one-way ticket to recovery, and the process of getting better is gradual. The precontemplation, contemplation, and preparation stages are the hardest. However, with proper guidance and support, the patient can progress to the action stage until they reach the maintenance stage.

At Roots Through Recovery, treatment starts with you. Our outpatient addiction recovery programs center on your needs and flexibility. Take the first step now. Contact us at 562-379-9756 or fill out our contact form to get started.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


“I am so grateful to be an alumni of Roots. Roots took me from my darkest of places, to the brightest and most beautiful part of life I've ever lived. They genuinely care about their clients. You will not be a number or a paycheck here. After discharging in February, I still receive help and words of wisdom whenever needed. Roots helped me battle things I'd been struggling with for over 14 years and finally put them behind me. I love roots with all my heart, and always will.”


“Just got 365 days sober today all thanks to these people at Roots. And saved my marriage.”


“It's great to see such a high quality of care program in Long Beach! The entire staff shows great care and compassion for their clients. The therapists are among the best around. Their admissions and case management is compassionate and driven to help you succeed! If your looking for help with trauma or substance abuse, this is the place for help!”


“Very serene setting, you feel right at home when you walk in. The staff are super nice and really care about their clients.”


“The most compassionate and knowledgeable staff! Roots Through Recovery offers the best addiction care and treatment available. They use multiple disciplines to cater to a wide variety of clients. Music therapy, art therapy....you name it, Roots has it! Do yourself a kindness and check them out. You'll be glad you did.”