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Five stages of change for young people with addiction

By November 8, 2019March 25th, 2021No Comments

Addiction is a medical condition which requires complex and holistic treatment. Understanding addiction includes consideration of the young person’s age, background and underlying health issues.

The pathway to recovery requires a deeper understanding of the young person’s readiness for change. A young person with alcohol and drug addiction will fall into one of the following five stages of change *:


Young people are not thinking seriously about changing and tend to defend their current alcohol or drug use patterns. They may not see their use as a problem and as they see the positives outweigh the negatives of their behaviour, they are happy to continue.


Young people are able to consider the possibility of quitting or reducing alcohol or drug use but feel ambivalent about taking the next step. Although they still enjoy the positives, they are starting to experience some adverse consequences such as mental health symptoms, disconnection from friends and family, loss of housing or education or problems with the law, physical, legal, social or family problems.


Young people have already made a recent attempt to change using behaviour in the last year. They understand the negatives outweigh the positive of their addiction. They are usually taking some small steps towards changing behaviour and understand that change is necessary and urgent. However, some young people at this stage may still decide not to do anything about their behaviour.


Young people are actively taking steps to change their using behaviour and working towards goals and significant change. They are committed and may try several different techniques. However they are still at a high risk of relapse.


Young people are able to successfully avoid any temptations to return to using behaviour. They have learned to anticipate and handle temptations to use and are able to employ new ways of coping. If they have a temporary relapse, they can recover and don’t see it as a failure.

Learn more about how Sir David Martin Foundation helps save young lives through our support of Triple Care Farm – moving them from a high risk of suicide to seeing opportunities and building a brighter future.

source: Australian Government Department of Health