When you’re changing an unhealthy habit or addiction into something more healthy or even if you just want to make some kind of change to your behaviours and your lifestyle, it can be helpful to understand a bit about the process you’re going through. Understanding the process gives you more confidence and control.
And, having this understanding, confidence and control makes it more likely that you will manage this change better and be less likely to revert back to old, unhealthy habits.
The model I’m using to explain this is know as “The Stages of Change Model”. It was created by Prochaska and Di Climente and presents a series of stages that research has shown that people go through when they’re modifying their behaviour or changing a habit.
Stage 1 – Pre-contemplation
In this stage, the person has, or is developing, an unhealthy behaviour or habit but is not consciously aware that there is a problem and therefore is not intending to take any action to change anything about their habits or behaviours.
Stage 2 – Contemplation
In this stage, the person has some conscious awareness that there is a problem and they might have a desire to change but is ambivalent about it. They might be thinking about making changes but there might be some internal conflict between the desire to keep their old habit and the desire to change it into something healthier.
At this stage, the person might come across programmes like Go Get Sober, have a read and an explore but take no further action. Or, they might sign up and get involved once or twice but lack the commitment to do the work required to change. In this case, Go Get Sober offers a completely non-judgemental and safe environment which offers the kind of educational information and support that can help shift the person’s thinking so that they become ready for Stage 3.
Stage 3 – Preparation or “Determination”
In this stage, the person decides to make a change. They are ready. They might even have already taken some action at some point in the last few months. They might be considering plans of action. This is often a brief phase which leads into Stage 4.
At this stage, the person is likely to read up on the subject, join support groups or enrol on programmes like Go Get Sober. The Go Get Sober programme offers tools and activities that help capitalise on this determination and turn it into action.
Stage 4 – Action
In this stage, the person takes action to achieve their goals and make the changes they want to make. This could be anything from seeking community support and keeping up to date with relevant blogs and vlogs to working proactively through the activities that programmes like Go Get Sober provide. It could be changing friendship groups, joining classes, learning something new, getting some therapy, leaving a relationship or moving house – some people find making tiny changes in their lives is enough to generate a holistic and healthy change and others find they need to make bigger changes.
Stage 5 – Maintenance
In this stage, the person develops more and more lifestyle changes as they embed their new strategies, habits and approaches to life.
Some people find that they slip up and revert back to old habitual patterns when they’re in the maintenance stage (Stage 5). This can be because they have lost touch with their determination, their motivation and reasons for change. The memories of how bad life was with their old habit might have become faded and distant. They might have stopped taking action (Stage 4) and be less focused on proactively working on sustaining these changes.
One way of overcoming this risk is to keep touching base with things like:
- the Getting Sober Record we introduce people to when they first start the programme – it’s a bit like a daily journal
- support communities whether face-to-face or online like the Go Get Sober Support Forum
- planning and taking action every day like doing one of the steps or activities from one of the Go Get Sober modules
Although people might have already developed new and healthier habits and might be finding it much easier to live life without alcohol, triggers can crop up unexpectedly and it’s good to be prepared. As someone becomes more confident with living life sober and they’re in this maintenance phase, it’s also good to keep using the tools and techniques in the programme and applying them to lots of different areas of their life. This will help them to create the life they want, to be the person they want to be and to have the kind of healthy relationship with themselves that eliminates the need to reach for alcohol ever again.
The tools in the Go Get Sober Guidance Programme help to building resilience, self-worth and confidence and I invite people to keep using them, even when they’ve “cracked” sobriety, so that they get to keep developing themselves and take their lives to the next level.
It’s important to note that, although some people will progress in a linear fashion through each of the stages, some people will recycle through the stages and move through them in a more cyclical or repetitive way. The stage someone is at will affect what kind of support or intervention will work best for them. For instance, someone who is at the Pre-contemplation stage is unlikely to respond well to an action-plan to help them change their habits as they haven’t yet identified that they have a need to change.
Programmes like Go Get Sober help to ensure that there is a range of tools, activities and guidance that will meet the needs of people at all these different stages.