3. Supporting your Family Member’s Recovery

Stages of change model


The stages of change model can be a useful tool for motivating people to make positive changes in their lives. Sometimes, people cannot make changes on their own. For example, they may:

    not see the negative effects the substance use causes, so they do not see a need to change
    know a change is needed, but do not know how to make the change
    be afraid to try to make the change because they may be uncertain of what will follow.

The stages of change model can help you see:

    where your relative is in the change process
    how ready they are to take action
    how to deal with the emotions involved in suggesting a change
    how to support your relative based on which stage they are in.

The stages of change model identifies six stages that a person will experience when making any change: precontemplation (not ready), contemplation (getting ready), preparation (ready), action, maintenance and relapse.

Please click on the information buttonto learn more about each stage.

For students viewing this course on a mobile device, please view this activity in landscape mode for ease of readability.

You can help your loved one as they go through their recovery journey if you match your support with their stage of change. It is important to recognize that your family member may be at a different stage of change with respect to the different substances they use. For example, they may be in the action stage for one drug (e.g., cocaine), but be in the precontemplation stage for another substance (e.g., cannabis). Understanding what stage your loved one is in can help you communicate more effectively about the problematic substance use.

You are likely to need the most support when your loved one with addiction is in the precontemplation stage and is not ready or willing to engage in treatment. These supports benefit the entire family’s well-being, and often improve the communication between you and your loved one. This helps you support your relative and encourages a shift to the contemplation or action stages.

Download a copy of this Stages of change activity.