The four phases of treatment are:
- Early Abstinence
- Maintaining abstinence
- Advanced recovery
These stages were developed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as a resource on individual drug counseling for healthcare providers, but it is also a useful model for recovery from alcohol addiction. In this model, recovery is a lifelong process.
Stage 1: Intake
When people reach out for help from a professional alcohol and drug rehab program at Meqoamia Community Development Center, the first stage of the recovery program begins as they arrive.
The first phase of treatment focuses on establishing a treatment plan and offering stability to the individual in treatment. The focus during this time is on education about addiction and the treatment options available, as well as preparation for the eventual relinquishing of all substance use.
People often feel unsure about giving up all substance use, and they may be resistant to treatment permanently, and they may think that their substance abuse problem is not as bad as others. To counter this, a substance abuse counselor may help the individual do the following:
- Look at the damaging effects of addiction
- Explore feelings of denial with regards to the problem
- Help the person become motivated to recover
During this stage of treatment, an individual’s alcohol and drug use history will be taken, the treatment program will be introduced, and the counselor will work with the individual to develop a customized treatment plan. Once ambivalence about recovery is resolved, the client is prepared to begin the next stage of the recovery process.
Stage 2: Early Abstinence
The second stage of rehab, known as early abstinence is significantly associated with positive treatment outcomes. This can be the toughest stage to cope with because of many factors, including:
- Feeling emotionally fragile
- Overwhelmed, and
Challenges at this stage of treatment include cravings, social pressure to drink, and high-risk situations that can trigger alcohol consumption. It is during this early abstinence stage that a trained addiction counselor will begin to teach the clients coping skills that they need to lead a sober lifestyle.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) treatment protocols recommend this phase of treatment focus on immediate, solvable problems, like preventing relapse and managing cravings. More emotionally difficult steps in therapy, such as discussing the underlying causes of the substance use, are generally delayed until abstinence is better established and can be maintained on a long-term basis.
Some strategies that can be helpful include:
- Encouraging participation in healthy activities
- Finding alternative behaviors to engage in rather than turning to alcohol
- Participating in self-help groups that offer support and information
- Recognizing environmental triggers that lead to cravings, including people, places, and things
Stage 3: Maintaining Abstinence
Once lasting abstinence has been established, the therapy process can move toward recognition of how the substance abuse has negatively impacted the person‘s life. If the treatment is a residential treatment program, the individual will now move to the continuing or follow-up counseling phase of the rehab program on an outpatient basis.
One focus of this stage of rehab is obviously to maintain abstinence by avoiding a relapse. They will learn the warning signs and the steps that can lead up to a relapse.
During this phase, new life skills and coping mechanisms can be established, which will help the individual avoid relapse in the future so that he/she can continue to live a truly sober lifestyle.
Stage 4: Advanced Recovery
After approximately five years of abstinence, an individual will reach the fourth and final stage of the rehab program: advanced recovery. The later stages of recovery tend to focus less on substance abuse. Instead, at this point they take all the tools and skills they have learned during rehab counseling and put them to use living a satisfying, fulfilling life.
People in treatment for substance use may need to be integrated back into the community and their families, re-establishing relationships and identities, and Letting go of guilt and shame can be an important part of this stage, as individuals learn to think of themselves as whole people.