The core components of an addiction treatment program are often counseling and those that are psychotherapeutic in nature. Since the disease of addiction originates as an abnormal structure and functioning in the brain, recovery depends upon correcting many of the secondhand effects that occur as a result of the disease. Psychotherapy and counseling offer a forum in which individuals can uncover the roots to their addictions, figuring out the factors that led to each individual’s development of the disease in order to identify ways to overcome them. Other types of counseling, such as life skills training, arm recovering addicts with skills and strategies to maintain sobriety through the prevention of relapse.
In fact, relapse prevention is considered one of the most important components of addiction treatment because they promote longevity of recovery. And since the stress that comes with being unable to provide for oneself is considered one of the circumstances that most often lead to relapse, learning and developing basic and essential life skills are crucial to one’s recovery. Here are nine of the life skills that individuals learn over the course of addiction treatment that ensure success and longevity in recovery.
1. Creating and Maintaining a Daily Routine
As human beings, we tend to be creatures of habit. Often without even realizing it, most of us tend to have an outline or blueprint that determines the course of each day. We wake up, get ready for work or school or some other daily obligation, return home for dinner, go to bed, and repeat the process the next day. Addicts are no different, replacing many of the productive and responsible activities that fill non-addicts’ days with harmful, destructive behaviors such as seeking and consuming alcohol and/or drugs. Developing a new routine—that does not involve substance abuse—is essential to a long-lasting recovery as it fosters organization and productivity, foresight, preemptive strategy, and helps individuals to be more productive. It’s still good to change up one’s daily routines a little bit every now and then, but studies tell us that following a routine generally makes us happier.
2. Learning (or Re-Learning) Basic Hygiene
Over the course of active addiction, oftentimes one’s personal grooming habits and hygiene fall by the wayside. As such, an important life skill learned over the course of recovery is to maintain a level of basic cleanliness, which not only includes bathing on a regular basis, but also taking care of one’s dental hygiene, skin and hair, and all those other mundane details that get forgotten in the pursuit of substance abuse.
3. Budgeting and Financial Responsibility
Alcohol and drug addicts get to a point where virtually every dollar they can get their hands on—through working or even stealing—is put toward sustaining a costly substance abuse habit. As more and more time is spent in active addiction, individuals often forget how to budget and be responsible with one’s finances. Part of life skills training involves learning how to create and live by a budget in order to support oneself, including making sure the rent or mortgage is paid, maintaining health and auto insurance, buying food, and so on. If dependents like children are in the picture, budgeting is all the more important.
4. Nutrition and Healthy Eating Habits
Much like one’s personal hygiene, nutrition tends to seem very unimportant when an individual suffers from active addiction. Rather than being careful and deliberate about what is put into one’s body, addict’s often view eating as an afterthought, quick to hit a drive-thru and get a meal out of the way so that they can continue with their substance abuse routine. As such, it’s important for those in recovery to learn healthy nutrition and eating habits to ensure that they’re able to provide the vitamins and nutrients the body needs to function.
5. Stress and Anger Management
One of the primary contributors to a relapse is stress. It’s imperative that individuals in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction learn how to manage and deal with stress as well as anger and other intense emotions because these are the types of feelings that previously led to chemical abuse during the periods of active addiction. By learning how to manage stress and anger, recovering addicts can minimize or eliminate the potential for life’s many hardships to push them back into the throes of addiction.
6. Maintaining a Stable Residence
When many people think of the quintessential addict, they often think of someone who’s fallen into such financial despair as to be homeless. While it’s true that not all addicts suffer from homelessness, it’s an unfortunate result of active addiction; in fact, there are a number of addicts who experience homelessness for many years before beginning the recovery process. As such, it’s important for individuals who may not have maintained a stable home in some time to learn how to find and sustain a home.
7. Communication Skills
In active addiction, individuals tend to surround themselves with others who are also dependent on alcohol and/or drugs. Since addicts tend to mostly socialize around the shared experience of substance abuse, it’s important for those in addiction to learn how to effectively, appropriately, and respectfully communicate with others. This includes learning the distinctions between the manner of communication one might have with friends and family versus colleagues and strangers, developing the ability to infer the most appropriate mode of communication in each situation.
8. Career Coaching and Development
Although it’s not impossible for an addict to maintain employment, the harsh reality is that active addiction will also always lead to the loss of one’s job. This can occur either due to declining attendance, being intoxicated on the job, unexpected drug screening, or a number of other ways, but more often than not addicts are unable to maintain stable, gainful employment. As part of life skills training, individuals in recovery will receive career counseling or coaching, which will help them to match their experience and skills to the most appropriate, fitting career paths so that they can develop a plan for employment upon completion of treatment. Moreover, learning to develop a career or employment plan is a skill that will continue to be beneficial over the course of recovery as it will allow individuals to not only find and secure jobs for which they qualify but to also develop plans for a lasting career by identifying opportunities for advancement.
9. Developing and Maintaining Stable, Healthy Relationships
Similar to learning effective, respectful communication, those in recovery must learn how to develop and maintain healthy relationships with other sober individuals. This will involve learning the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships as well as learning how to socialize with others without the involvement of alcohol and drugs. Additionally, individuals will learn how to assess their prior and existing relationships in order to identify opportunities to make amends with loved ones who have been wronged or otherwise repair relationships that were damaged over the course of active addiction.
There are many life skills that are essential to the longevity of one’s recovery with each skill playing an important role in maintaining sobriety in the present and future. If you or someone you love is suffering from alcohol or drug addiction and would like to learn more about life skills training and other addiction treatments, call Recovery Hub today at 888-220-4352. We have a team of experienced recovery specialists waiting to answer your questions and give you a free assessment in order to match you with the best program that meets your specific recovery needs.