Why “Life Skills” Training Is Crucial To Addiction Recovery
People struggling with alcohol or drug addiction usually are not able to overcome addiction on their own. Treatment centers are an essential resource with individuals struggling with addiction issues. Unfortunately, 40 to 60 percent of people who go through a rehab program relapse after leaving treatment. Part of this is due to the fact that the program wasn’t long enough, or the individual quit the program too soon due to personal reasons.
Developing healthy life skills is essential to successful sobriety. Treatment centers provide the necessary tools, strategies and resources to help someone overcome his or her addiction problem. Life skills are important skills that a recovering addict takes with him as he re-enters his life.
Why Life Skills Are Important
According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, 27 percent of the people who start taking drugs die within 20 years. Life skills are essential for maintaining sobriety as well as improving one’s quality of life. These skills include such things as:
- Employment status
- Ability to maintain strong friendships
- Mental health status
- Physical health status
- Stable living environment
- Effective coping tools
- Improved decision-making skills
A study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that alcoholics who develop basic life skills markedly improve their quality of life. Life skills are essential steps on the road towards long-term sobriety.
Learning to Handle Basic Daily Responsibilities
Most addicts have lived their days in a fog, concerned only with being high, finding the next high, and obtaining the money to fund their habit. They lose touch with how to handle basic daily responsibilities and lose confidence in their ability to do so. For these reasons, life skills training is essential for lasting recovery.
Developing a healthy “routine” is the most basic life skill for a recovering addict. Treatment centers put recovering addicts in activities that help them adhere to a daily schedule during their treatment such as attending meetings, therapy, meals and leisure time. A typical schedule involves waking up the same time every day and going to bed at a set bedtime. The course of the day is set according to a set schedule. Routines are important in helping a recovering addict to live a healthy, sober lifestyle. A healthy routine helps a recovering addict to stay grounded and resist the urge to go back to old ways.
Learning to handle finances and money responsibly is a skill that many addicts have completely lost sight of. Financial stability means:
- Learning how to live within your means
- Taking care of obligations
- Using money responsibly
Financial stability also requires the ability to remain gainfully employed. Learning how to become gainfully employed is an important life skill for a sober and healthy life. Learning how to find and keep a job is crucial to lasting sobriety.
Nutrition and Hygiene
Many addicts let nutrition and hygiene go by the wayside. The first steps of a recovery program are light exercise combined with a healthy diet. Nutrition is an essential life skill for rebuilding bodies and minds damaged by years of addiction. Treatment centers have a dietician who teaches recovering addicts the difference between healthy and poor food choices. Important nutrition skills include:
- To think about eating habits
- Shop for food and prepare it
- Good hygiene habits
Personal Responsibility for Living Space
The environment we live and spend time in plays an important role on how we think and feel about ourselves. Important cleanliness skills include:
- Learning to clean rooms
- Organize belongings
- Take responsibility for your living space
Many addicts struggle with mental health disorders that require medication. This means that the individual is dealing with additional problems beyond substance abuse. A mental health problem has to be addressed along with the addiction problem. The two problems are often interrelated. Substance abuse is often a form of self-medicating. Learning how to manage medication in a safe and responsible way is essential for a healthy life style.
Many addicts are very self-centered and struggle with loneliness. Learning how to interact appropriately with others is an important skill. Successful recovery usually requires making a new circle of friends and avoiding hanging out with old friends that the addict used to drink or do drugs with. Some important social skills include:
- Controlling emotions
- Self-awareness and understanding
- Learning to engage others in conversation
- Good communication skills
Basically, a recovering addict must re-learn how to function in the world. An inpatient treatment program is best for this aspect of recovery because they provide a protected environment where the individual is able to focus entirely on learning these skills before attemtping to reclaim their place in society.