Over 130 people die every day in the United States from an opioid-related drug overdose. As the country is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic, it is important to understand what treatment options are available and what the recovery process looks like for those suffering from an addiction to opioids. The path to recovery is complex and different for each individual, as several personal and social factors can influence addiction. However, many recovering addicts will face similar stages throughout their recovery process. Here are five common stages of addiction recovery:


The first stage in the recovery process is awareness, or an early-acknowledgment that there is a problem. During this stage, addicts may still be struggling to admit that they have a problem. If they do, they may use excuses or blame their struggles on stress or other problems in their lives. This stage is often a hopeless phase where addicts cannot see the true severity of their addiction. The awareness is usually brought upon them through conversations with loved ones or legal troubles. Although this phase is often looked upon as “rock bottom,” it is a crucial part of the recovery process. To move onto the next stage, addicts will need to acknowledge the situation and be willing to make a change.


Once the decision has been made to make a change, individuals will begin the consideration stage. During this time, those with addictions spend time learning about their addiction and how it has impacted those around them. This phase of contemplation is crucial because it allows addicts to take the necessary time to begin evaluating how their actions have negatively impacted loved ones and their lives. Though they haven’t started receiving treatment, the consideration stage is a giant step in the right direction that provides the user insight and motivation. From here, the individual can focus on a future free of substance abuse.


During the third stage, addicts have likely moved past the point of denial. Here, they are ready to move forward and have started speaking with individuals who have been down the same road as them for advice. They may try abstinence and will start gathering resources and considering treatment plans. As the addict explores recovery, they may decide to move forward with a recovery and treatment center.

Early Recovery

The foundation for long-term sobriety, the fourth stage of recovery often demands the most work from the addict. This is the stage where an action takes place, and the physical process of recovery begins. Substance abuse has stopped, and users are learning how to be drug-free for the long term. This phase requires a lot of life changes of behaviors and activities that the individual is used to. It may require removing toxic people from their lives and taking steps to rebuild damaged relationships. Vulnerability is a shared feeling amongst many during this stage and relapsing is not uncommon. Addicts typically have chosen an accredited rehabilitation center during this stage, and are learning the necessary skills to develop healthy habits.

Active Recovery

The final stage of active recovery starts the life-long commit to maintaining drug-free. Although a lot of progress had been made to get to this stage, individuals have learned the importance of staying active and alert to triggers and keeping a strong support system to maintain their sobriety. It is crucial that individuals continue to practice the skills they’ve learned throughout treatment and explore options such as sober-living communities to keep their sober status and to move forward with a healthy life.