The 3 Stages of Addiction Recovery

Last Updated: Feb 24th 2020

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

There’s no cure for drug addiction, so it takes commitment to live a healthy, sober lifestyle. Getting sober and learning how to manage the disease isn’t fast or easy. However, there are three stages of addiction recovery, and knowing them can help you prepare for the long road ahead.

Stages of Addiction Recovery

Every addiction is different, so the programs and therapies that help people recover are unique to the individual. Despite this, the road to sobriety has three main elements. These are detox, rehab, and recovery.


Addiction programs always start with detox. This process involves abstaining from drugs while the body naturally cleanses the bloodstream.

However, when people with addiction quit using drugs, their bodies respond with withdrawal. This is because addiction causes chemical changes in the brain. These changes make the brain dependant on drugs. When it doesn’t get its regular dose of chemicals, cognitive functioning decreases.

Withdrawal symptoms can range from headaches, muscle pain, and sweating to hallucinations, seizures, and stroke. However, at a rehab facility, patients receive medicine to ease uncomfortable symptoms. The medical team also monitors their condition to prevent fatal symptoms and complications.


Once clean and physically stable, people move on to the rehab stage. This stage teaches them how to maintain sobriety.

Treatment centers use diverse therapies that address why individual drug use began. This takes place in individual, family, and group therapy sessions. By not addressing underlying issues, relapse after rehab is more likely. Therefore, therapy focuses on treating psychological dependence as well.

Additionally, during these sessions, patients learn to live balanced lives, handle stressors, and avoid triggers. In fact, therapists help create specific relapse prevention plans. Furthermore, patients build and rebuild relationships so they have a strong support system after treatment.


Recovery is a crucial step in rehabilitation. At this point, the goal is to stay sober and healthy using the skills and strategies from therapy. Post-treatment, temptations, and triggers will always arise. For this reason, it’s important for people to continue treatment and go to support group meetings for encouragement.

For example, aftercare and sober living programs help patients transition from rehab to normal life. They provide the flexibility to work and go to school while receiving rehab center support. Additionally, patients have the opportunity to meet a sponsor through support groups. This person acts as an advocate for recovery during tough situations.

Get Quality Addiction Treatment

If you’re ready to commit to recovery, 1st Step Behavioral Health can provide quality, caring rehab. We offer a variety of addiction treatment programs that guide you through the stages of addiction recovery including:

Don’t lose your life because of addiction. Get the help that you need to regain control. Call us at (866) 971-5531 now to learn more about our programs.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Brittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is the Assistant Clinical Director at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.