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5 Stages of Change

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The five stages of change are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. They are used to examine and treat a variety of behavioral problems, including addiction.

Here is a description of each stage, according to the Cancer Prevention Research Center.

Precontemplation: In this stage, people may not even be aware they have a problem, or if they are aware, they have no intention of changing anything.

Contemplation: Here, people are now aware of their problem and are thinking about taking steps to overcome them.

Preparation: The contemplation is over -- action will be taken in the next month.

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Action: The cancer Prevention Research Center writes, Action is the stage in which individuals modify their behavior, experiences, or environment in order to overcome their problems. Action involves the most overt behavioral changes and requires considerable commitment of time and energy.

Maintenance: After the behavior has been changed, people must now work to prevent a relapse and understand what they have learned during the action stage.