Some people may wonder why life skills are relevant to addiction recovery. They may think life skills come naturally to everyone. However, even the most basic and seemingly common life skills can be challenging when substance addiction enters the scene. The good news is these life skills can be built through education and practice.
Life Skills Are Important Indicators of Mental Health
Believe it or not, life skills impact many key areas that pertain to mental health. For young people, life skills may involve their social and emotional development. Adults may need to develop life skills like workplace etiquette and balancing chores and family time. Everyone needs a certain level of interpersonal and communication skills to function in society.
Take the ability to express feelings, for example. Many people do not consider this a life skill. In reality, expressing feelings is one of the most important aspects of mental health for people recovering from substance addiction. Drugs or alcohol may cause emotional “flattening” or “blunting” to the extent that people caught in addiction are completely numb to emotions. Therefore, they have a hard time externalizing them.
Another important life skill related to mental health is self-awareness. When a person knows when to take steps to manage their emotions and handle stress, this person has healthy self-awareness. This is a self-management skill for achieving mental balance. Unfortunately, many people recovering from substance use may have lived in a mental fog. They may have experienced that fog for so long that they feel alienated from themselves. It takes time and hard work to regain that sense of self-awareness.
Loss of Life Skills During Addiction
Long-term addiction creates a chronic addictive state in the brain. Such a state can detach the person from reality and the desire to improve. Some people are so entrenched in shame and guilt that they lose the momentum to keep up with important daily tasks, including personal hygiene, making meals, and even regular sleep.
After detoxing from substances, a person does not automatically return to a balanced lifestyle. Most likely, they still maintain unhealthy habits, such as irregular sleep hours, skipping meals, and ignoring house chores. Therefore, learning to recognize and implement life skills is another aspect of treatment and recovery.
Moreover, some people may have developed violent or self-destructive behaviors during their period of substance use. Conflict resolution, relationship negotiation, and harm reduction are key life skills to learn for these people. Take assertiveness, for example. This skill enables a person to stand up for themselves at the right moment. Learning to be assertive yet caring for others is crucial for building and maintaining relationships.
Starting With Basic Life Skills
During substance abuse treatment, one-on-one talk therapy and group therapy are essential ways to rebuild a person’s grasp of basic life skills. This may start with listening and communication skills. People in recovery need to listen to the therapist or peers actively and openly share their experiences during meetings. Building authentic connections with others through deep conversations also boosts confidence in early sobriety.
Additionally, the importance of stress management cannot be overstated. Relapse prevention and long-term recovery depend on a person’s capacity to manage stress. Stress management can become an organic part of life by taking small steps, such as cleaning up the living space, engaging in good hygiene, and following a meditation routine.
Advanced Life Skills
Life after detox and rehab can involve keeping a job, managing personal finances, and family responsibilities. Once a person relearns basic life skills like communication and stress management, advanced life skills secure a healthy future. For example, recovering individuals with full-time jobs need problem-solving and time management skills.
If a recovering individual is returning home to be a parent, they may face multiple household responsibilities. The ability to accept and fulfill parenting responsibilities is an advanced and challenging life skill to master. These individuals need self-awareness, structure, and parenting skills to help their children grow up happy, healthy, and sober.
Practice Makes Perfect: A Roadmap to Learning Life Skills
Life skills include an intimidatingly broad range of things, but they are also achievable. Most people just need a plan or a roadmap to get there. Many important life skills can be better understood by breaking them down into the following categories:
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Creative and critical thinking
- Self-management through healthy habits and routines
- Self-care to reduce stress
- Resilience and the ability to cope
To avoid relapse, all these skills need to be strengthened. This can be achieved through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), 12-step group meetings, creative therapies, and other holistic treatment methods that restore the mind-body connection. These are essential pillars of support that help people achieve self-sufficiency in long-term recovery.
Recovery from addiction means achieving self-sufficiency and independence in life. Laguna Shores Recovery can help you learn the life skills you may be missing. Our adulting 101 classes help young adults become capable, responsible, and self-sufficient adults. At Laguna Shores, our experienced mental health professionals and compassionate staff understand the importance of life skills during recovery. We have designed every program with the intention of fostering sober independence. Additionally, our facility offers one-on-one and group therapy to give recovering individuals the best chance of success. Call us today to discover how we can help you recover and discover self-care strategies for relapse prevention. For more information on our programs, call Laguna Shores Recovery at (866) 229-9923.