What is Recovery?

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The recovery journey looks different from person to person and can be difficult to define. While many may think recovery is just about overcoming drug or alcohol addiction, the medical community and those affected by addiction will say there is much more to recovery.

Although not a straightforward process, addiction recovery usually includes specific milestones. These include awareness, consideration, exploring recovery, early recovery, and maintenance. The following goes into more detail about these 5 stages of the recovery journey.

Stages of Recovery

Stages of recovery can help map a personalized plan of treatment. And not everyone goes in the order listed. It’s completely normal to skip a stage, move back, or progress linearly. The stages of recovery are highly individual and the path for each person depends on a variety of elements, such as duration of drug use, type of drug, and family history.

Based on the Transtheoretical Model, the following pattern of stages helps clinicians guide individuals through the process of recovery and also helps addicted persons stay mindful and increase understanding of the self. This can help people move from habitual patterns, such as addiction, and move through stages towards change and better living.


Realizing an issue is often the first stage of recovery. Recognizing the harmful effects of drug and alcohol misuse and acknowledging the problem as one that needs solving is what moves a person towards a life of recovery.

For many, this awareness comes from a “crisis event”. We’ve heard the phrase, “I hit rock bottom.” It is from this place that the problem of addiction is realized.


Thinking about how drugs and alcohol show up in life, their effects, and how to stop using them is consideration. This is when we can begin to understand how we got here in the first place and what can be done.

This may or may not take place with a counselor or addition specialist. It’s more of a time of reflection and contemplation on how to overcome addiction. They may start researching rehab or other addiction support groups nearby.

Exploring recovery

This is a move from thinking to taking action. People at this stage may confide to a trusted friend or family member and ask for help, or they may attend their first meeting or contact rehab centers.

Exploring recovery options is an active step and shows how the individual is ready to take the next step to create a life free from addiction.

Early recovery

If haven’t done so already, early recovery includes a detoxification period. Depending on the severity of addiction, a medical detox is often a better option than an at-home detox. Withdrawal can include adverse side effects, and some are life threatening, such as fever, increased heart rate, and hallucinations. Detox under medical supervision can be more manageable and comfortable.

Within a few days, the most troublesome withdrawal symptoms generally pass, and addiction therapy can begin. This helps patients understand the underlying issues leading to addiction and how to develop skills and habits to avoid triggers and relapse. Some common therapies include 12-step programming and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).


Addiction is a lifelong condition that needs active participation and maintenance along the way. It is during this stage the individual must maintain awareness and sobriety. When in a treatment program, maintenance is something discussed at great lengths to help ensure continued success.

An after-care plan can help people get going in the right direction. This personalized plan of care might include job or career resources, outpatient counseling or group therapy, or list of community resources, such as AA or NA groups.

Addiction Recovery in Santa Rosa, CA

Pura Vida Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Program in Santa Rosa, CA helps men and women create lasting change in their lives free from drug or alcohol addiction. Our licensed professionals create a personalized plan of treatment following evidence-based addiction treatment.

With a holistic approach, Pura Vida helps to instill accountability, discipline, hope, and joy for living. Our facility provides intensive out-patient programs and sober living environments for men and women at affordable rates.

To get started on a path to recovery, call (707) 879-8432 for a confidential assessment.