Harvard Mental Health Letter

Moving from one stage of addiction recovery to the next

Different tasks and interventions are required at different stages.

The transtheoretical model of behavior change — often referred to simply as the "stages of change" model — has become one of the most widely used methods to promote recovery from addictions and to help make other health behavior changes. Although not universally endorsed, the transtheoretical model holds that at any given time, a person is at a particular stage in relation to behavior change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, or maintenance.

The transtheoretical model was developed by University of Rhode Island researchers James O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente. At a Boston medical meeting early in 2008, DiClemente (who is now at the University of Maryland) provided advice about how to overcome a major challenge in putting the model to work in clinical practice: helping patients move from one stage to the next.

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