phases of addiction and recovery

Addictive behaviors impact a wide circle of people around the individual with addiction which can feel challenging to understand how to  help break the cycle. Recovery is possible, if the individual chooses to seek treatment and admit a problem exists. The Jellinek Curve presents five distinct phases of addiction and recovery to outline the progression of drug and alcohol addiction from recreational use to chronic abuse then on towards recovery. The phases may look different to each individual’s journey but the curve can provide a baseline of where to start in building an understanding of addiction.


Progressive Phase

A person may start using drugs and/or alcohol on a recreational basis. Curiosity, coping mechanisms for stress and more define this phase of addictive behavior. Over time, the individual will build a tolerance to the substance and may feel guilt or shame about using drugs or alcohol. Here the first signs of dependence begin to emerge.


Crucial Phase

The individual with addiction will steadily increase use to the point where the ability to moderate or stop is greatly diminished. Attempts to control use may be short-lived and isolation from family and friends will occur. Rationalizations and excuses will emerge regarding use which leads to engagement in impulsive and reckless behaviors on a more frequent basis. A sense of remorse may be apparent but the person feels the tools are missing to address the growing problem.


Chronic Phase

More than likely, in this phase, a person will experience lengthy periods of intoxication accompanied by significant physical and psychological health issues. The individual experiencing these issues is likely to abandon family and friends to spend the majority of time with others who also indulge in alcohol or drug use. Daily routines are driven by substance use with little to no motivation to quit. People who are in this phase may have initiated attempts to become clean and sober which were ultimately unsuccessful. The vicious cycle continues which brings physical, psychological and spiritual consequences as problems grow worse (which can also lead to death).


Rehabilitation Phase

A person with addiction in this phase hits a dead end and may experience clarity upon self-examination. If the realization sticks, the person will realize addiction has taken over and will express a desire to transform from being addicted to being in recovery. During this phase a person makes a commitment to seek professional help through structured treatment,  12-step programs or other sober support groups. Other resources are explored and evaluated to help maintain sobriety after treatment.



The final of the phases of addiction and recovery brings people to realization about addiction through utilization of tools and support from treatment. Peers will help with sober living and the individual will re-establish healthy communication with family and friends. Confidence and self-esteem will grow as the individual works on the recovery plan and adopts a mindset of awareness around thoughts and feelings of others. Sobriety brings clarity to embrace the fullness of life.


Hired Power provides resources and tools for the recovery journey. Contact us at 800-910-9299
to learn more about how we can help you or a loved one fight addiction.