National Recovery Month 2018

Every September, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sponsors Recovery Month to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover from these disorders. The theme for 2018 is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community”. Recovery is a life-long journey that begins by admitting you have a problem and is followed by seeking treatment and finding success in the recovery community. Learning how to successfully thrive in your personal and professional life while making your physical and mental health a priority is a major part of recovery in addition to taking an active role in your community.

The Stages of Change

Stage 1: Pre-contemplation

This is the first stage at the beginning before you ever sought treatment or recognized you had a problem. During this stage you are in denial about your disorder regardless of the signs and symptoms you portrayed. You may practice continual binging and purging and have extremely negative views on your body image and body weight. When approached by loved ones regarding your behaviors, you may become defensive and maybe even angry.

Stage 2: Contemplation

This second stage to recovery is when you realized you do have a problem and you are open to receiving help for you problem. Recognizing that you have a problem is the first step to receiving help for your eating disorder.

Stage 3: Preparation

This stage is characterized by preparing to take action to receive help for your eating disorder. You have recognized your problem and have agreed to seek help so you can live a happy and healthy life in the future. You have called a therapist or reached out to a treatment program to receive information on the initial assessment. You may have met with your treatment team and came up with an action plan.

Stage 4: Action

This stage is about taking action and facing your eating disorder head on. You have enrolled in treatment and are going through the daily therapy sessions, nutrition classes and group sessions. This may be an inpatient treatment center, a residential program or an intensive outpatient program. Regardless of the level of care this phase is the acute treatment phase where you gain the knowledge, tools and coping mechanisms needed in order overcome your battle with substance abuse or a mental health disorder.

Stage 5: Maintenance

This stage is about the transition from acute treatment into recovery in the “real world”. The maintenance phase is when you have successfully completed the action phase for six months of longer. This is the stage you are most likely in now. You are actively practicing your coping skills and mindfulness techniques to overcome your triggers and urges. Practicing self-care, rebuilding broken relationships, developing new relationships, finding a sense of community and building your self esteem are all part of this phase. However this is not the end of the road.

Stage 6: Termination and relapse prevention

Although this stage is not considered to be in the Five Stages of Change theory, termination and relapse prevention is an important stage is lifelong recovery. During this stage you have made the decision to completely phase out of treatment, this means no more support group or outpatient therapy. It is important that you and your therapist have made this decision together as often times; individuals may remain in some form of outpatient treatment their entire life. Additionally relapse prevention means recognizing your triggers and situations that may cause you to relapse and accept the fact that you should re-enter into treatment if you do relapse. You should have a relapse prevention and action plan in place and have a treatment center you are willing to enroll in if need be.