“Unpickled” Shows us that recovery is a process, not an event in this important post: How I Knew It Was Time to Quit Drinking

This is a very interesting, well-written and extremely enlightening post that makes it very easy to see that recovery is, indeed, a process, and not an event. The author uses The Transtheoretical Model developed by Prochaska & DiClemente (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1983; Prochaska, DiClemente, & Norcross, 1992) to explain and explore her state of mind at different points throughout her recovery process. TTM holds that people always move through a series of stages when they are trying to change behaviors. The earlier stages are characterized by more thought and less ( explicitly behavioral) action, but they are necessary for the change to take place. The Transtheoretical Model is very popular among recovery professionals because it helps them to select treatment strategies that are congruent with a particular client’s readiness for change. As the authors of the model state, “Guidance based on the TTM results in increased participation in the change process because it appeals to the whole population rather than the minority ready to take action.” Unpickled’s post makes it clear that that thinking about change (contemplation) is, of course an action, and an extremely important one in the process of recovery. This is so helpful for people in recovery (and family members) to realize. Internal shifts of perspective are not the ultimate prize, but they set the stage for other changes that move a person closer to the goal of abstinence and sobriety, and people in recovery deserve recognition, support and encouragement when they are working at these interior changes. Too often, they are berating themselves, and feeling a lot of heat, for not doing enough, when the self examination they are undertaking requires a great deal of energy in and of itself. I think Unpickled’s post makes this abundantly clear.


If there is one question I am most asked about living alcohol-free, it is “How did you know it was time to quit drinking?”

Only occasionally is this question asked with dancing eyes that reveal a quest for titillation: I want to hear every detail of rock bottom. If I sense that is the motive, I generally let them down easy: I was the most boring alcoholic ever – I have no stories of catastrophe. I just knew I was losing control and needed to take charge.

More often it is asked with genuine interest, either because someone would like to know me better or is trying to understand addiction better for personal reasons. Sincere questions deserve honest answers.

I have been reading about the “transtheoretical model of behaviour change” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transtheoretical_model) and I can easily see how it correlates to my journey. In short, it identifies various stages of decision-making…

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