Behavioral change is a gradual process that involves different stages of life. Whether struggling with addiction or knowing somebody that has an addiction, the transtheoretical model (TTM) is a good starting place to figure out how to progress through what is called the stages of change.
The TTM helps evaluate readiness to carry out healthier actions. Learning to change behavior is based on personal and environmental circumstances. Proceeding through different levels of change can happen through the modification of behavior. Using the stages of change is different for everyone. Stages may vary in time and personal experience, but certain principles and certain methods of change work best throughout the different levels. Decisional balance and participation to alter behavior works well in using the stages of change.
The five stages of change are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. Different approaches can be productive for each stage to move forward into the next stages.
This phase is best described as being in denial. The addict may not be aware yet that change is needed in their behavior. This is a great way to try to show the addict the consequences of their actions to help open their eyes to the real situation that is around them.
Problems start to become apparent to an addict that their behaviors may be affecting them at work, at home, with their health, with legal issues, or all of the above. They realize that they cannot continue in this fashion or the problems will continue to get worse. Reinforcing to them the dangers of their addiction through their own life experiences is a good way to start moving them towards recovery.
An addict has come to the decision that change is necessary in their life and is adapting to the process. Suggesting different types of recovery such as inpatient treatment, therapy, or a 12-Step program can start the process of recovery as long as it is done in a way that the addict feels cared for instead of being provoked to do something they do not feel inclined to do.
This stage is when the addict starts to deal with the problems of their addiction. Embracing treatment can be effective to starting a new lifestyle on the road to recovery. Addicts need lots of support during this life-changing phase since they are giving up the “love of their life” which can be emotionally and physically challenging.
Now that change has taken place, the work begins to prevent relapse. The addict generally begins to look for support to keep on the right track in their recovery. Finding 12-Step meetings or attending outpatient therapy can keep a person from going back to their old ways. Tell the addict what a wonderful job they are doing to stay sober because support is a mainstay in this stage of recovery.
TTM behavior change model can determine the willingness to act with healthier behaviors. The stages of change can provide an instructional strategy to help apply treatment efforts to initiate a new way of life.
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