The DMR consists of six progressive stages of recovery – transition, stabilization, early recovery, middle recovery, late recovery, and maintenance. Each stage has a primary focus. During transition the primary focus is upon recognizing the addiction and developing the motivation to become abstinent. The primary focus of stabilization is recuperation from the physical, psychological, and social damage caused by addiction. Early recovery focuses upon identifying and changing the deeply entrenched patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that drive people back into the addiction. Middle recovery revolves around issues related to lifestyle repair and the development of a balanced and health promoting lifestyle. Late recovery focuses upon the resolution of family of origin issues that create pain and problems in recovery. Maintenance is the lifelong process of growth and change needed to keep from relapsing back into the addiction.
The DMR is a flexible tool that can be used in a variety of ways. Counsellors can learn to help clients evaluate their stage of recovery and establish treatment plans. The DMR can also form the basis of a powerful self-care technology that can enhance, but not replace, the working of the Twelve Steps. By learning about the stage and tasks of the DMR, many recovering people can develop effective recovery plans and make better decisions about what type of professional help is needed. The DMR is a powerful tool that is needed to move the changing field of chemical dependency treatment into the future.
Transition begins when the addiction starts to cause problems that force the addict to make a new evaluation of the relationship between alcohol and drug use and life problems. At the beginning of this stage most addicted people believe that they are a social drinker or a recreational drug user who is in control. By the end of this stage they recognize that they are addicted and not in control and need to abstain. In between these two points the addict experiences a painful inner conflict between the addictive part of themselves that wants to keep believing they are social drinkers and recreational drug users, and the sober reality-based part of them that believes they are addicted or at least on the road to addiction. There are four major tasks of transition. The first is to develop motivating problems that force addicts to recognize that something is wrong and motivate them to take action. Since, at this stage of recovery, most addicts don’t believe that their problems are related to alcohol or drug use, they attempt normal problem solving designed to solve the life problems caused by their addiction without dealing with the alcohol and drug use that is causing the problems. As this normal problem solving repeatedly fails, they are forced to see the relationship between alcohol and drug use. They can see that their problems are partially the result of drinking and using drugs. They start to see that they are using too much, of the wrong kind, too frequently. This launches most addicts into serious attempts to control chemical use by regulating how much, how often, and what kinds of chemicals they use. Because addiction is a disease marked by loss of control, these attempts fail. These repeated failures to control their use can cause serious demoralization that forces many addicts to accept the need for abstinence. Unfortunately, most addicts try to abstain without help and become overwhelmed by symptoms of physical and psychological withdrawal, social pressures, and an avalanche of problems that were created by their addictive use. These problems don’t end when they stop drinking and drugging; they follow them into sobriety and make it difficult to stay in recovery. When these solo efforts at recovery fail, they realize that they cannot maintain abstinence alone and accept the need for help. At this point many reluctantly and are often resistant to seeking help in order to solve the immediate problems.