Many people with substance use disorder (SUD) struggle with basic life skills. Life skills are day-to-day abilities to care for oneself and solve problems. Full recovery includes relearning these skills so that one can live independently while maintaining sobriety.
The Loss of Life Skills
SUD may take a heavy toll on a person’s ability to care for themselves. They can become so preoccupied with getting and using substances that other things get swept under the rug. This leads to the neglect of personal hygiene, decline in work or school performance, and disruption in personal relationships.
People who begin developing SUD in adolescence or young adulthood may miss out on the golden time to gain essential life skills that prepare them to live independently. Many people refer to life skills as “adulting.” These abilities often develop naturally or with guided practice, but youth with addictions may get held back from acquiring them.
Life Skills and Stress
We know that adults must take on considerable responsibilities for themselves and others, even in everyday circumstances. When emergencies happen, adults might need an extra set of skills to deal with challenges. In a way, using life skills can be stressful. The stress that implementing life skills sometimes requires may be another reason why many people struggling with addiction tend to ignore them.
During recovery, relearning life skills is necessary, but that does not mean that stress associated with day-to-day responsibilities will disappear. Daily tasks are not always fun or easy. They can demand much self-sufficiency and patience. Therefore, residential treatment is an important period to help recovering individuals regain life skills while managing stress.
Practicing life skills during recovery can release some of the stress that comes from addiction. For example, in cooking a meal for oneself, one’s mind is focused on completing the task which may distract one from cravings for substances. There are many other benefits related to life skills during recovery.
The Benefits of Life Skills in Recovery
Sooner or later, individuals in recovery will complete residential rehab and transition to their home environment. That transition must be handled delicately and intentionally because they will no longer have the structures and accountability that supported them to be sober in their treatment facility. Their ability to live a healthy lifestyle while being on their own is key to maintaining sobriety.
Adulting 101 classes teach basic life skills that help people achieve independent and sober living. First, they learn how to handle domestic duties. This includes cooking balanced meals, doing laundry, going grocery shopping, cleaning, and organizing. Failure to carry out these duties may create stress and disrupt the progress of recovery.
These life skills classes also teach financial skills. All individuals need to learn to budget, pay bills on time, use credit cards, maintain their bank accounts, choose insurance, and put money into savings. These competencies can be new to many of those in recovery as many people’s finances suffer as a result of addiction.
Essential life skills also include how to maintain healthy relationships. Courses may include effective communication skills, social skills, conflict resolution skills, emotional intelligence, and trust-building skills. Without solid relationships, recovering individuals don’t have sufficient support and may be vulnerable to relapse.
Self-Awareness and Self-Care
The World Health Organization (WHO) lists self-awareness as an essential life skill. People need to be able to tell when they are emotionally, mentally, and physically healthy as opposed to when they are stressed and vulnerable to re-engaging with substances. Self-awareness enforces self-control and is an important part of effective self-care.
Independent and sober living means that an individual must learn to properly care for themselves. Planning healthy diets, getting enough sleep, excising regularly, monitoring their own emotional and mental well-being, and seeking help when necessary are building blocks of self-care as well as good life skills. These are necessary to maintain sobriety.
Extra Support During the Transition
Some people may choose to live in a sober living home among peers before returning to independent living. A sober living community may provide extra support for honing one’s life skills. It is easier to perform day-to-day tasks with a group of peers. Once that routine sets in and individuals feel confident in managing daily responsibilities, they can more easily face the real world on their own.
Life skills are important in preventing relapses. As those in recovery gain more self-awareness, their ability to resist temptations also grows. Life skills also teach setting and maintaining healthy boundaries, which is crucial to relapse prevention. Working with a team of experienced health professionals who can make personalized plans for each individual they serve is a great start toward sobriety and relapse prevention.
Do you know what life skills or adulting skills are for people who are going through recovery? These are practical day-to-day competencies that many people need to relearn before they can successfully transition back to normal life. Life skills coaching is part of continuing care. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we offer programs that provide life skills to our patients. By learning these skills, our patients can better integrate back into society and prevent relapse. Our Adulting 101 class that is part of our recovery program in Mission Viejo will help patients learn important skills that will lead to a healthier lifestyle. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we have experienced mental health professionals who can coach you through recovering from addiction. With their help, you can begin rebuilding a sober life. Schedule an appointment with us today to discover how we can help you. Call us at 866-934-5276.