life skills for recovery after addiction treatment

Life skills are incredibly important to develop after addiction treatment. Not only will these skills help individuals succeed in daily life, but they are necessary for living an independent life.

Life skills cover a broad area. These skills are important for performing nearly every task in daily life. They can be as mundane as learning how to tie a shoelace to as essential as proper communication and interpersonal skills. Typically, life skills are defined in six key areas. According to the World Health Organization, these areas are like skills include:

  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Creative and critical thinking
  • Problem-solving and effective decision making
  • Self-awareness
  • Assertiveness and self-control
  • Resilience and the ability to cope


While this list is not an exhaustive list of skills, all these traits are important to be able to live independently and be successful during recovery. To avoid relapse, it is important to take all these skills into account and reflect on one’s strengths and challenges. It may also be helpful to talk to a mental health professional to identify any lagging life skills.1



Why Are Life Skills Important for Recovery?

Although refraining from using substances is the most obvious step in addiction recovery, there are several other steps that the individual will have to go through to avoid relapse and proceed with the recovery process.

To fully recover from an addiction, the individual must reflect on the past issues that may have impacted their addiction from the start. Once these life skills and potential issues have been identified, the individual can attend therapy or work with a mental health professional to start to re-develop these skills.

    • Personal life skills after treatment:After treatment, individuals must learn to develop personal life skills, such as communication, empathy, and interpersonal skills. These skills are important for repairing past relationships, maintaining past relationships, and developing new relationships.2
    • Self-care: While it is a buzzword, self-care is one of the most important activities that anyone can partake in to feel good. Self-care can be as simple as going for a daily walk or taking some time to oneself, but the key is that the activity is something that the individual enjoys doing.
    • Having daily routines: Daily routines can help maintain life skills. For that reason, it is important to establish every team that works with an individual schedule and make sticking to it a priority.
    • Managing stress: Because stress is one of the leading causes of relapse, it is important to use coping mechanisms to properly manage stress.2 Additionally, an individual must be able to identify when they are feeling stressed and locate potential triggers to properly manage that stress.3
    • Emotion control: Emotional control is important to maintain not only relationships but oneself. Substance use harms executive functioning, which is an individual’s ability to control impulses and manage themselves. It will take time to regain control of one’s emotions, but self-care and stress management are great ways to do so.4



Important Life Skills Needed After Rehab

While many life skills involve being able to cope with stressful emotions and manage one’s stress, other life skills involve tasks that help the individual live independently and without the assistance of others. Some of the other life skills that will likely be needed after rehab include the following:

  • Finding a Job: Finding employment post-rehab can be difficult. However, some rehabilitation centers will help in applying for jobs and resume help.
  • Managing Your Finances: Managing one’s money is important to achieving independence. Some of the aspects of managing one’s finances include opening a big account, saving money, paying off debt, and learning to live on a budget.
  • Home maintenance: It is important to maintain one’s home. Home maintenance does not necessarily mean learning plumbing or electrical work but simply that the individual must learn how to clean a home and make sure that all appliances and systems are operating safely.
  • Cooking: Cooking and understanding nutrition are important skills for living a healthy lifestyle.



Life Skills for Recovering Addicts

While many treatment centers will offer group discussions and treatment sessions that discuss life skills, the recovering individual must understand the best ways to remain in recovery and avoid relapse. When it comes down to the definition, life skills training has its base in self-care and recognizing potential triggers.

Avoid Risky Situations

Because relapse can occur if the recovering individual sees people or passes places associated with past substance use, that individual should avoid any tempting or risky situations that could compromise their recovery.

Develop Coping Mechanisms

Many people first turned to drugs or alcohol to cope with stressful life events or situations. Someone in recovery should figure out which coping mechanisms work for them. The coping mechanisms could be as simple as taking a time to participate in deep breathing or removing oneself from the situation to go for a walk outside.

Manage Stress and Emotions

Figuring out how to identify one’s emotions and interpret them is a difficult thing to achieve. However, when someone is recovering from substance abuse, they can reflect continuously on their emotions and how emotions impact their behavior. Once the emotions have been identified, is easier to employ a coping mechanism and figure out a way to remove the stressor.

Develop a Routine

Developing a healthy routine can be a great way to assist in recovery. By sleeping well at night, maintaining a healthy diet, getting physical exercise, and employing self-care, the individual may be able to reduce their likelihood of a relapse.



Sober Living Can Include a Set of Life Skills

Living in a stable, alcohol and drug-free environment can be a crucial step to recovery. However, this environment can be difficult to find. Many individuals choose to go to a sober living facility as part of their recovery. Sober living is a safe place where an individual lives with other people who are also recovering from substance addiction.

Living in Recovery

Recovering from substance use addiction is more than simply abstaining from using alcohol or drugs. Recovery requires continuous growth, change, and an improved sense of self. Additionally, living in recovery means that the individual needs to continuously reflect on their actions as well as their impacts. It is vital to note that living in recovery is for life. It is not something that the individual will simply stop, it is a continuous process.5

Being Able to Ask for Help

Being able to ask for help is an important life skill itself, and it is also a great way to help avoid relapse. Identifying triggers and relapse warning signs is one step closer to managing substance abuse, but it is not complete with being able to ask for help. Additionally, no one should be afraid to ask for help, and living in a sober living facility may give the individual the courage to reach out if they need more support.

Accepting Personal Responsibility

Even for individuals who do not struggle with substance use, accepting personal responsibility is a difficult task. As part of self-awareness, being able to accept personal responsibility for actions and reflect on the reasons for those actions as well as the impact that the actions had on others is an incredibly important skill that is needed for recovery.6



Substance Abuse Support Groups

Partaking in substance abuse support groups is a great way to help promote life skills and self-care. Because the members of the group are engaging in discussion and talking about positive ways to manage addictive behavior, the use of groups not only builds social skills and comradery but helps support an individual as they maneuver the recovery process.7

Substance Abuse Group Topics to Discuss

Substance abuse groups participate in large group discussions where many people share their experiences and ideas. Some of the life skills topics that may be discussed during substance abuse groups include:

  • The importance of nutrition
  • The importance of sleep period
  • Gratitude
  • Discussing triggers and coping strategies
  • Physical exercise
  • The importance of sleep
  • The importance of self-care

Substance Abuse Group Activities

By participating in various collectivities, group members can learn various life skills to help them cope with their experiences in rehab, recovery, and throughout their addiction. Some of the activities that groups may participate in include:8

  • Making a list of bad habits
  • Participate in role-playing and mock interviews
  • Playing charades to express oneself with body language
  • Writing down a stream of consciousness
  • Make lists of activities that one could do instead of using substances

Group Therapy

Group therapy is where several individuals who share an experience or disorder come together to discuss the challenges that they have faced and the ways they find work well to cope with whatever they’re facing in life. Group therapy can help its members develop social skills and work on communication.

Individuals need to be taught life skills to prevent further substance use or to give them the skills to avoid harmful decisions that impact not only their lives but those around them. Life skills training is an incredibly important aspect of recovery and should be a part of all treatment plans.

This information should not replace a visit to a doctor or treatment center. If you are concerned that you or a loved one might be suffering from addiction to multiple substances, ask for professional help today.



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