In search of how people change. Applications to addictive behaviors

Am Psychol. 1992 Sep;47(9):1102-14. doi: 10.1037//0003-066x.47.9.1102.


How people intentionally change addictive behaviors with and without treatment is not well understood by behavioral scientists. This article summarizes research on self-initiated and professionally facilitated change of addictive behaviors using the key trans-theoretical constructs of stages and processes of change. Modification of addictive behaviors involves progression through five stages--pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance--and individuals typically recycle through these stages several times before termination of the addiction. Multiple studies provide strong support for these stages as well as for a finite and common set of change processes used to progress through the stages. Research to date supports a trans-theoretical model of change that systematically integrates the stages with processes of change from diverse theories of psychotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aftercare / psychology
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology
  • Behavior, Addictive / rehabilitation*
  • Health Maintenance Organizations
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology
  • Social Support