HERACLITUS once said the only constant in this world is change. And so nobody can stop tomorrow or even rewind the past – because change is infinite, hence anybody is possible to change. Even for a chronic drug addict who seem impossible to change can rise from the ashes.

Indeed, there is hope in drug addiction – but full recovery passes through the five steps of change.

The Five Stage Model of Change developed by Dr. Carlo DiClemente and J.O Prochaska from over 35 years of scientific research is developed to better understand how people with problem behaviors like chronic drinking, smoking, and drug abuse overcomes the stages of change until they fully recover. Allow me to use the drug abusers as an example to further explain its stages.


The first stage is when a person addicted to drugs has no intentions to change at all. It is when the person has no knowledge about the ill effects of abusing drugs. They are convinced that there is no problem to deal and that people judging is the problem. Hence, they appear to very resistant from any help. They possessed the “4 Rs” according to Dr. DiClemente – reluctance, rebellion, resignation, and rationalization.


The second stage is when a drug abuser reflects to consider the possibilities that they have a problem and that thought it will offer hope for change. This is not yet the commitment to be drug free but the interest in knowing how drugs destroy them begins, although, it is not a guarantee that they will decide to say not drugs. Also, ambivalence occurs in this stage, they become confuse due to the presence of two opposing emotions, whether to quit or not to quit drugs.


The third stage is also called the “ready or determination”; this time the person has the intentions to take action on quitting drugs. Now, they have goals of consulting a drug coach, are rehabilitated or try the self-change strategy with the help of their support systems. Ambivalence may also be still evident, but not that much a barrier to their decision to change. They already anticipate future consequences of their behaviors and are committed to impose on their actions to quit drugs.


The fourth stage is when the person puts her or his plan of change to action. They now make some form of public commitments to stop using drugs to acquire external approval of the plan and obtain supports from others, not only from their immediate families. They are motivated to keep themselves away from drugs when they see people being happy because of their actions to change.


This is the fifth stage when people try very hard to comply with the identified strategies to prevent relapses. And because relapse is a part of a person’s recovery process, it does not mean that it cannot happen once more but it does not also mean a failure. Once the person reaches this stage, the threat to the old life becomes less intense because they already have the variety of weapons or skills to prevent relapse.

While the stages of change would help people understand why a person in drug addiction cannot immediately stop using drugs, I guess people should also understand that at the bottom of every person’s drug addiction, there are many times struggles, rejections and pains, thus discovering the root causes of those to heal is a crucial aspect in completing the recovery process. Again, I would say – there is hope in Drug Addiction!