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It’s likely that while you were deep in the grip of your addiction that you weren’t always being the best, most responsible, and pleasant adult, citizen, friend, and human that you could be. Drug and alcohol use can stunt your growth in more than just the physical realm, and if you started using when you were very young, its possible and even likely that you never properly learned some of the essential life skills we all need to get along satisfyingly in this world. Now that you are clean and sober, and have tamed and beaten many of your demons, now might be the right time to start focusing on these vital skills, and in turn make your everyday life more comfortable, productive, and whole.
Why Life Skills Are Important in Recovery
If you struggle in the area of life skills – developing them and maintaining them – you are not alone. It oftentimes seems that many people struggle in this capacity when they finish a rehabilitation program. Some individuals are aware of the necessity of these skills, but they seem out of reach; others may be oblivious to them altogether. However, these skills are important to lead a successful life and although they seem to come naturally to most people, they are learned. For someone who is working on his or her recovery, they may just need to be learned later in life.
In most cases, all adults, even recovering addicts, will have some of these skills in their arsenal already, and will not need to perfect them further as a clean and sober person. Others, however, may seem entirely new. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are people out there to help you in each of the life skills areas and they are eager to teach you and offer assistance on your path moving forward.
Types of Life Skills
There are three main categories of life skills: independent living skills, coping skills, and social skills. As mentioned above, it’s possible you were never even taught these skills. It’s also possible you were taught these skills, but never developed or practiced them enough to become consistently successful. Or, it’s possible you simply abandoned the application of these skills while actively abusing drugs and alcohol. No matter what the reason, mastering these skills now that you are clean and sober is critical. Each category will not only help you fit in in greater society, but they will also help to fortify your strength against some triggers and thereby relapses, and will in turn keep you healthy and happy for the rest of your life.
Independent Living Skills
Independent living skills are usually taught to children by their parents. If you did not have a good relationship with your parents due to your drug and alcohol abuse, theirs, both of yours, or some other reason, it’s possible these skills were never imparted to you during your teen years. However, there is no time like the present to learn and master them, and start living a mature, organized, and clean lifestyle. Independent living skills may include:
- Money management
- Cooking healthy meals
- Keeping your living space clean
- Personal hygiene
- Staying fit and active
- Applying for jobs
- Keeping a regular daily routine
- Goal setting
- Managing time effectively
Coping skills are another category of life skills and for people in recovery, they are especially important. In the past, you soothed yourself with misguided, unhealthy rewards like doing drugs and drinking, but that option is no longer available to you. In your rehabilitation program, you could always turn to a staff member for support when needed, but now you are on your own. Surely, you have support groups you can and should attend, and likely a sponsor you can call at any time, but what do you do when these things are not available to you? Coping skills help you work through problems on you own, and help you come out the other side safe – and sober. A few examples of coping skills include:
- Practicing self-care
- Avoiding HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired)
- Getting enough rest
- Leaning how to manage stress effectively
Social skills is the final category of essential life skills and for many it is the most challenging. When you were using drugs and alcohol, you likely often felt that it helped you to more easily communicate with others. On the other hand, your substance abuse also surely had a negative effect on your relationships as well. Developing efficient and positive social skills can not only save you a lot of headache, it can also help you make friends and build strong relationships with other important people in your life such as family members and coworkers. Social skills to work on may include:
- Verbal communication
- Body language
- Conflict resolution
- Adherence to social mores
- Establishment and maintenance of healthy, stable relationships
- Being honest and forthcoming
Although this lengthy list of essential skills may seem daunting at first, it is entirely achievable. Furthermore, as mentioned above, there are people who want to help you in these areas – simply reach out. Or, if you would prefer, there are countless books and websites where you can read about ways to hone each and every one of these skills. You can master all of these skills and soon you will be well on your way to a happier, healthier, and more comprehensive personal rebirth in your recovery.
At Clear Sky Recovery, we want to help you get started on the first steps to recovery from your addiction. Our ibogaine detox is innovative and effective, and we invite you to experience it at our facility in Cancun, Mexico. We look forward to hearing from you; please contact us today with any questions!
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.