How to recognize success in addiction recovery

10:59 AM, Aug 29, 2018

Having a loved one suffer the effects of addiction is a painful cycle to witness, but there is hope through addiction recovery programs — the first step in a lifetime of changes.

Once steps are taken into recovery, maintaining long-term recovery success can be especially difficult. Here are some ways that you and your loved one can recognize success while in the addiction recovery process.

Signs of success

According to the Developmental Model of Recovery, as described by the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority, there are six stages that lead to successful long-term sobriety and can be used as milestones of success for those in addiction recovery:

1st Stage – Transition. Sometimes the biggest step to overcome, this first stage is marked by the realization that substance abuse is a problem that needs to be addressed. Realizing that one has a problem and needs help is often a time of fear, trepidation and shame. As your loved one comes forward wanting to change, embrace this desire and applaud his or her willingness to recognize the problem.

2nd Stage – Stabilization. As if recognizing the problem and the need for help wasn't difficult enough, this stage occurs upon detox and is the realization that it’s important to break from the people, places and events that trigger the desire to use.

3rd Stage – Early recovery. This is characterized by lifestyle changes that promote sobriety. It will take effort to start new habits and practices and change other long-held habits and settings.

4th Stage – Middle recovery. Building off of the third stage, this stage is characterized by achieving a balanced lifestyle and making reparations for damage done in the past.

5th Stage – Late recovery. Marked by meaningful changes in self-perception, destructive thoughts, and behavior patterns, this stage is key to maintaining long-term recovery success.

6th Stage — Maintenance. Seen as the last, yet ongoing stage of recovery, this stage is characterized by continued personal development and growth and the effective management of stress and life problems.

Each of these stages should be seen as successes for individuals in the recovery process, and are signs of maintaining progress throughout their life.



What are the societal benefits of recovery?

Engaging in effective methods of rehabilitation is another way to further recognize success in recovery.

Institutions like the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health have shown that the social model approach to rehab that emphasizes peer support, positive role models and experiential learning is an important part of drug and alcohol treatment.

According to the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority, there are many benefits of this type of addiction treatment. Here are just a few:

  • Assists with ongoing recovery through mastery of experiences and finding meaning, purpose and social connections in your lives

  • Helps individuals to develop healthy interpersonal skills critical to long-term recovery

  • Provides real-life experience for living and thriving in a community

  • Prevents isolation and loneliness – something that many men struggle with along their journey toward sobriety

  • Promotes greater support and empathy

  • Emphasizes trust, respect, confidentiality and compassion

  • Encourages sharing of relapse stories that helps decrease a sense of self-loathing experienced by many who relapse and allows individuals to refocus their energies toward reestablishing abstinence

  • Teaches ways to prevent and cope with crisis

  • Builds strong, positive social coping behaviors and social support systems

If rehab is in the future for you or your loved one, the social model approach to rehabilitation is a great way to pave a path to long-term maintenance in recovery.

How can you motivate a loved one to go to rehab?

Sometimes the hardest step to recovery is the first: acknowledging they have a problem. If you find yourself stuck and not sure how to help your loved one, here are some important ways to start:

  • Demonstrate empathy

  • Create and keep up specific, healthy boundaries

  • Encourage responsibility

  • Enlist help by reaching out to therapist or counselor for yourself

  • Connect with another friend or family member who has been in long-term recovery

  • Attend local chapter for family and friends

  • Contact an addiction treatment specialist. Consider a professional intervention

Each stage of recovery requires mindful attention to self-destructive patterns of thought and behavior as well as making permanent lifestyle changes that promote abstinence, and that is why the experts at the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority are the best suited to help your needs.

The Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority prides itself in being a safety net organization that provides a full array of services and supports to adults with mental illness, people with developmental disabilities, children with serious emotional disturbances and persons with substance use disorders.


If you notice signs of alcohol or substance abuse in your teen, you don't have to deal with them alone. Call the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority crisis hotline 24/7 at 800-241-4949 or visit for more information on prevention, treatment and recovery services.

Here to talk. Here to help.

Latest news, weather and traffic to start your day!