The Stages of Change

The stages of change are:

Precontemplation (Not yet acknowledging that there is a problem behavior that needs to be changed)
Contemplation (Acknowledging that there is a problem but not yet ready or sure of wanting to make a change)

Preparation/Determination (Getting ready to change)
Action/Willpower (Changing behavior)
Maintenance (Maintaining the behavior change) and
Relapse (Returning to older behaviors and abandoning the new changes)

Stage One: Precontemplation

In the precontemplation stage, people are not thinking seriously about changing and are not interested in any kind of help. People in this stage tend to defend their current bad habit(s) and do not feel it is a problem. They may be defensive in the face of other people’s efforts to pressure them to quit.

They do not focus their attention on quitting and tend not to discuss their bad habit with others. In AA, this stage is called “denial,” but at Addiction Alternatives, we do not like to use that term. Rather, we like to think that in this stage people just do not yet see themselves as having a problem.

Are you in the precontemplation stage? No, because the fact that you are reading this shows that you are already ready to consider that you may have a problem with one or more bad habits.

(Of course, you may be reading this because you have a loved one who is still in the pre-contemplation stage. If this is the case, keep reading for suggestions about how you can help others progress through their stages of change)

Stage Two: Contemplation

In the contemplation stage people are more aware of the personal consequences of their bad habit and they spend time thinking about their problem. Although they are able to consider the possibility of changing, they tend to be ambivalent about it.

In this stage, people are on a teeter-totter, weighing the pros and cons of quitting or modifying their behavior. Although they think...

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