The Four Stages of Recovery and the Supplementary Stages of Trust

Stages of Recovery

Sending a loved one away for addiction treatment can be a big adjustment for everyone. While your loved one may have been the one struggling with the addiction, you and your family have had to live with all the consequences. There’s probably been a lot of arguing, crying, and emotional turmoil. Even now, you might have trouble trusting your loved one. While this skepticism isn’t ideal, it’s normal during the early stages of the recovery. In fact, there are four stages of trust after addiction treatment that all loved ones go through when someone they know enters addiction treatment. Below, you will find summaries of all four stages of both addiction recovery and rebuilding trust, as well as how they relate to one another.


The Four Stages of Recovery and Trust


Stage One for Your Loved One: Treatment Initiation

Stage 1 - Paranoia and Treatment InitiationThe first stage of addiction recovery for your loved one is defined by his or her decision to seek professional help. It doesn’t matter if you coerced your loved one into it or not. Either way, stage one of addiction recovery begins as soon as your loved one sets foot into rehab.


Stage One for You: Paranoia

The first stage of rebuilding trust during the early stages of addiction recovery is riddled with “what ifs.” Some of the most paranoid thoughts for people with loved ones in rehab include:

•    What if (s)he is skipping meetings?

•    What if the recovery program isn’t working?

•    What if (s)he is still using drugs or drinking in secret?

These kinds of thoughts are always invasive and never helpful, especially when it comes to a loved one’s addiction recovery. Being paranoid about your loved one’s time in rehab won’t do anything to help anyone— all it will do is hurt your mental health.

If you’re stuck in stage one at any point during your loved one’s recovery, consider getting professional help for yourself. Most rehabs provide family care and counseling. You may also benefit from talking to your own therapist or finding a support group of your own. Take the time to work on yourself while your loved one works on getting sober.


Stage Two for Your Loved One: Early Abstinence

Stage Two - Suspicion and Early AbstinenceThe second stage of addiction recovery for your loved one is characterized by a newly-developed commitment to sobriety. Early abstinence is usually the hardest stage in the addiction recovery process since that’s when your loved one experiences detox, withdrawal, and maybe even physical cravings. This stage can be extraordinarily complicated if your loved one has developed a psychological dependence on their substance of choice. Still, this part of addiction recovery is essential. Once detox is complete, this stage of recovery continues with your loved one learning the coping skills needed to stay sober after leaving rehab.


Stage Two for You: Suspicion

The second stage of rebuilding trust during the early stages of addiction recovery is filled with worry, doubt, and suspicion. During this stage, you might feel hesitant to start trusting your loved one again just because you have no idea what kind of progress has been made in rehab so far.

If you feel that getting past your suspicions has become a challenge, you should talk to your loved one in recovery, if possible. Ask how the meetings are going. Ask about the coping skills (s)he has learned so far. Keep the lines of communication with your loved one open and continue making an effort to heal yourself, too.


Stage Three for Your Loved One: Maintaining Abstinence

Stage 3 - Cautious Optimism and Maintaining Abstinence

The third stage of addiction recovery for your loved one typically begins after the first 90 days of sobriety. This stage sometimes marks the transition from residential rehab to scheduled outpatient rehab for patients who want to continue counseling even after returning home. The primary focus of maintaining abstinence is relapse prevention. So, during this stage of addiction recovery, your loved one will be using abstinence strategies and coping mechanism to handle everything from stress to triggers.


Stage Three for You: Cautious Optimism

The third stage of rebuilding trust during the early stages of addiction recovery is when your loved one’s improvement becomes more evident, but you may not be ready to offer your full trust yet. You may be wondering just how long this will last, especially if this is not your loved one’s first attempt to get sober. Still, your loved one is starting to look, feel and even act healthier.

If you’re unsure of how to feel after your loved one’s transition into outpatient treatment following the first 90 days sober, try to focus on yourself a little more. You have your own recovery to work on, too. Plus, now that you’re past the point of worrying about your loved one, you can focus on other things. Taking up a new hobby or spending more time with friends and family can help ease the tension during this stage.


Stage Four for Your Loved One: Advanced Recovery

Stage 4 - Certainty and Advanced Recovery

The fourth and final stage of addiction recovery for your loved one begins after two years of sobriety. During advanced recovery, your loved one will be able to take what they’ve learned from treatment and utilize it to build a happier, healthier life after substance addiction.

Advanced recovery requires a commitment to maintaining abstinence. Your loved one’s commitment will likely result in some significant lifestyle changes, like healthier eating and sleeping habits, more exercise and relationships with supportive people. These changes, coupled with continued abstinence and relapse prevention, will keep your loved one sober in the years to come.


Stage Four for You: Certainty

The fourth stage of rebuilding trust is the one you’ve been waiting for. At this point, you should be able to move forward with confidence as you continue to help your loved one. You’ll know, with certainty, that your loved one has the right tools, resources, and support to stay sober.

It’s important to remember, however, that relapse is common in addiction recovery. So, no matter how far your loved one has come, you should always be aware of the warning signs. If a relapse does happen, you’ll know what to do and how to handle the recovery process— for both your loved one and yourself.


TTC Outpatient Services Can Help You and Your Loved One Through the Four Stages of Recovery— and Trust

When your loved one decided to seek out professional help for his or her addiction, you each began a journey comprised of four unique but related stages of recovery. Working through these steps might feel challenging, but in the end, it’s more than worth it. Remember, recovery is a lifelong promise that requires work, commitment, and trust. If you or someone you know has a loved one who is working to maintain sobriety after addiction treatment, please contact The Treatment Center’s Outpatient Services at (844) 211-7944. Our team of healthcare professionals can help you and your loved one stay on track for happier, healthier and addiction-free lives.