Consumption To Abstinence

It is not easy to try to get a patient/family member/ friend to come to the realization they have an illness and decide to start treatment.

The passage from the absolute lack of awareness of the disease to the determination to start treatment and/or stay in abstinence is marked by different characteristic phases of its own.

The encounter with each of these stages requires different handling of the situation from the therapeutic point of view, but also from the point of view of family intervention.

What are the most effective interventions in each of the stages? Let us take a look at the different stages.

Pre-contemplation Stage 

Pre-contemplation Stage: During this phase, the person considers not having problems due to drug use. Denial is the dominant characteristic.

In this phase, it is advisable to try to provide information to generate doubts about the way of thinking in relation to drug use, to try to increase the perception of risk and awareness of the problem.

Contemplation Stage

Contemplation Stage: In this phase, there is already an awareness of the problem. It is common for consumers to assume that they have difficulty at specific times, or when they are prompted by friends.

Generally, in this phase, there is a concurrence of the reasons why they should continue using drugs. There is also an inner turmoil, whether they should change, or stop using drugs.

These contradictions are commonly resolved with excuses that justify consumption and free the dependent from responsibility.

Treatment will help the user to try to lean favorably for the reasons to change, stimulate confidence in their ability to stop using, and fundamentally try to make the addict assume responsibility for their illness, and the decisions they make on the road to healing or the perpetuation of it.

Determination Stage

Determination Stage: The drug user has the decision to do something to address the problem and is ready to do it. In this phase, it is essential to know and evaluate the treatment alternatives and adapt to the most appropriate treatment.

It is vital to start treatment as soon as possible when this stage is reached since it is usually a fairly labile phase. Patients often make a decision, but then the very disease process and fear lead them to back down from their actions.

Action Stage

Action Stage: This is where the process of change to stop using drugs takes place. This is usually the treatment phase. Family support is still very important at this stage. It is essential that the patient does not feel abandoned to a clinic or therapy.

Maintenance and Prevention

Stage of Maintenance and Prevention of relapses: In this stage, it is sought to strengthen and maintain the change achieved and thereby prevent the person from using drugs again.

It is important to try to achieve and maintain a change in lifestyle and in the management of emotions and behaviors that favor consumption identified in the treatment.

In this phase, relapses are very frequent. Avoid succumbing to the feeling of frustration, supporting and highlighting those behaviors and actions that highlight the change achieved so far.

Try to focus on the positive and learn from the “stumble” to prevent the situation from repeating itself in the future.


Many times, it may be necessary to resume treatment or increase the frequency of the sessions, but it must always be emphasized that this is not a step backward, but a step towards self-awareness and abstinence.

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How To Get From Consumption To Abstinence 1
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