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Walden Magazine // Jan 01, 2010

Understanding the Stages of Addiction and Recovery

Student poster session award recipient Todd Daniel shares key results from his research on methamphetamine addiction.

Todd DanielFor his poster at Walden University’s July 2009 residency in Minneapolis, PhD in Psychology student Todd Daniel documented his year-long examination of 32 methamphetamine users. Through his research, Daniel discovered that when the addict’s family and friends understand the downward spiral of addiction, they are better prepared to assist in the recovery process. Here, he shares three key stages of addiction and recovery.

Entering Addiction: Nothing to Lose

Daniel remembers the first client he met as a drug counselor. “She told me how her life had fallen apart, and I felt there was nothing I could do to help her. Her situation was so dire that she had nothing to lose.” Daniel encountered this sentiment in nearly every methamphetamine addict he counseled. “The people that we deal with really lack for a larger purpose in life.”

Confronting Addiction: Powerlessness in the Face of Drugs

A turning point in addiction happens when an addict realizes he does not have power over drugs. This realization, says Daniel, often signals the first step to recovery. Daniel remembers one addict’s vivid confrontation with powerlessness during a police raid. “He said he knew he was in over his head when he was lying face down on the carpet with a gun pressed to his head.”

Escaping Addiction: Something to Live For

Daniel’s research revealed a key factor for successful addiction recovery: “If you have something to live for, you have a reason to stay away from drugs,” he says. Daniel recalls one woman who came in for treatment. “Counselors educated her, but they also showed her how to use new makeup she had purchased. This was perhaps the first time in her life anyone had shown her kindness and compassion.” She made friends who were also committed to sobriety. “For the first time in her life, she had something to lose,” Daniel says, adding that the last time he talked to the woman, she was still drug-free.