Changing addiction behaviour

Post date: 02-May-2014 05:27:26

stages of change in addiction behaviour modification

Where are you on the spiral of change?

Stages of Change

Modification of addictive behaviours involves progression through five stages - precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. Individuals cycle through these stages many times before termination of the addiction. Most people move through the stages of change in a spiral pattern. During relapse individuals regress to an earlier stage of drug use.


There is no intention to change behaviour in the near future. Resistance to recognising or modifying a problem is the hallmark of precontemplation.

“As far as I’m concerned, I don’t have problems that need changing”


The individual is aware that a problem exists and is seriously thinking of overcoming it. The drug dependent person weighs the pros and cons of modifying addiction behaviour. There is no commitment to action and the drug dependent person can remain stuck in this stage for a long time.

“I have a problem and I really think I should work on it.”


Individuals who are prepared for action report small behavioural changes such as reduction in the quantity or frequency of drug use. There are reductions in their drug using behaviours.

“I will reduce consumption gradually”


In this stage individuals manage to remain abstinent from drug use for some period of time. There is considerable commitment of time and energy in the effort to change.

“I am really working hard to change”


The individual works to prevent relapse and consolidate gains attained during action. Stabilising behaviour change and avoiding relapse are the hallmarks of maintenance.

“I want to stop myself from a relapse of my problem”


Prochaska JO, DiClemente CC, Norcross JC. In search of how people change. Applications to addictive behaviors. Am Psychol. 1992 Sep;47(9):1102-14.

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