Good communication is an essential skill that can help you maintain recovery progress. Restoration of communication skills is part of recovery. Communication is your main channel for getting external support from health professionals, family, and friends. Your communication skills can be strengthened through different therapies and peer group interactions. Let’s look at some of the essential communication skills for recovery and why they’re so important.
The Loss of Communication Skills to Substance Use
Many recovering individuals have experienced a decline in communication skills because they have invested a lot of time and energy into securing and using substances. For some people, a lack of healthy communication with others may have been a leading cause of substance use in the first place. Others may have low self-esteem, which gets in the way of establishing good communication with others.
Addiction is a chronic brain disease that affects emotional regulation and cognitive abilities. Some people caught in substance use disorder (SUD) display outbursts of anger in high-stress situations. Others may lie to get financial support or hide the extent of their addiction. This kind of behavior demonstrates untrustworthiness and dishonesty. All these can undermine an individual’s ability to communicate healthily.
The Importance of Rebuilding Communication Skills
Processing and reconnecting with one’s emotions is an essential step in addiction recovery. To better process emotions, recovering individuals must work on their communication skills, especially in stressful situations. Communication is one healthy way to manage stress. Furthermore, many therapies focus on helping recovering individuals communicate better to unlock benefits for emotional and mental health.
Additionally, communication is essential in rebuilding relationships with family and friends. This includes repairing past mistakes and soliciting support. Sometimes, an entire family needs therapy to restore healthy communication channels so that the home environment can become a stress-free and recovery-supportive space for their loved ones. Below are five ways to achieve this goal.
Skill #1. Speak With Kindness and Thoughtfulness
A recovering individual must learn to speak calmly and kindly without using harsh words or expressions. Also, they need to think before they speak to avoid saying things they don’t mean and can’t take back. Language matters as much as delivery. Being considerate of this fact can help reset healthy boundaries at home.
Skill #2. Listen Before Talking
Good communication is a two-way street. Listening shows how much someone cares about the other person. Active listening involves asking good questions and staying engaged with the conversation. Even if one person doesn’t agree with what the other is saying, it is important not to interrupt or criticize. Everyone has a right to their opinions and feelings.
Skill #3. Practice Empathy
Empathy means being sensitive to the other person’s needs and experiences. Cultivating this ability can add meaning to social interactions. When someone sincerely cares about another’s well-being, they can build a solid relationship. Empathy also means stepping into someone else’s shoes and being ready to apologize for the hurt they may have caused.
Skill #4. Invest Time in Communicating With Yourself
Recovering individuals should nurture the ability to have a conversation with themselves. Individuals can communicate with themselves through journaling, self-affirmation meditation, or quiet time. Positive self-talk is an important way to overcome guilt and shame that inhibit them from better connecting with others. The more an individual practices positive self-talk, the more confident they will become in communicating with others.
Skill #5. Learn Assertiveness
Assertiveness is a balanced posture in communication. Without being too aggressive or passive, individuals can present their requests in a straightforward, honest, and non-avoidant manner. Assertiveness helps establish healthy boundaries while getting one’s needs met. This is a great skill to learn for recovery and beyond.
How to Incorporate Better Communication Skills in Recovery
The best way to improve one’s communication skills in recovery is to work closely with health professionals. They can offer different forms of therapy to achieve this goal.
For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on identifying and reworking unhelpful thought patterns that often dictate poor communication. A therapist will address the client’s foundational beliefs about relationships and how to improve them through effective communication.
12-Step group meetings are beneficial for learning and improving communication skills. There, recovering individuals are encouraged to listen actively and with empathy. Hearing and conversing with a peer who struggles with similar emotional needs can boost self-confidence. Many people learn how to open up through 12-Step meetings because they no longer feel alone.
Family therapy is a wonderful way to help family systems relearn good communication skills. Then, they can support a loved one’s long-term recovery. A trained family therapist will focus on identifying poor communication patterns and help correct them. The therapist will also use a strength-based approach to encourage family members to become more supportive and understanding of each other.
The importance of good communication skills cannot be overstated for long-term recovery. Many therapies are designed to address this area for recovering individuals. At Laguna Shores, we embrace a holistic approach to addiction recovery by integrating a wide variety of treatment methods, including CBT, 12-Step groups, family therapy, couples counseling, and life skill classes. We have experienced mental health professionals who apply evidence-based treatment techniques and help people establish good communication in treatment and recovery. We will also connect you with a community of recovering individuals. Communication skills are essential for full recovery, so do not delay treatment. Call us today at (866) 774-1532 to see how we can help you achieve sobriety and healthier communication with those you love.