Why Life Skills Therapy is Essential for Successful Recovery

Life Skills Therapy

Detoxification of the body and exploring the psychological foundations of addiction is only the beginning of a successful recovery from a substance use disorder. After weeks of intensive residential treatment, patients must be able to return to the world outside the rehab clinic where they will face numerous challenges.

Since avoiding stressful situation in daily life entirely is not possible, patients must learn new ways to cope with challenging situations that do not involve substance use. They will almost certainly be confronted with relapse urges and will need to be able to rely on solid coping strategies to overcome cravings.

With good coping mechanisms in place, people in recovery won’t need to turn to drugs or alcohol to feel normal or happy. Instead, they could use prayer and meditation, talk with a trusted friend or 12-step sponsor, or undertake physical exercise. Once cravings can be successfully handled and sobriety has been stabilized, long term recovery will require positive life skills and new goals.

In active addiction, most people are primarily focused on getting to the next high, often neglecting activities of daily living such as cooking and food preparation, washing the dishes and laundry chores, as well as keeping a clean living space.

Independent living skills have to be acquired or relearned, so that recovery is not just sobriety but also leading a meaningful life. At Decision Point Center, life skills therapy is an important element of addiction treatment. Decision Point provides a wide range of life skills to ensure that clients have the ability to live healthier, independent lives whether they are returning home or starting a new life after therapy.

Life skills therapy at Decision Point includes instruction on activities of daily living such as cooking and cleaning, financial literacy including debt management and balancing accounts, as well as resume writing and job seeking skills.

Equally important for a fresh start into recovery is building self-esteem and confidence, learning how to make good decisions as well as assessing risks correctly. A clear strategy, positive goals and a plan of action can prevent dangerous procrastination.

Standing still or coasting in recovery can be dangerous, especially in early recovery. Cravings can easily make an appearance when there’s is nothing to do and nowhere to go. If a person in recovery turns to the wrong “friends” at this point, a relapse can be the consequence.

“If we truly want long-term sobriety, we have to take stock of all the relationships in our lives, determining which ones are toxic, which require repairs, and which one nourish and nurture us,” writes Erica Spiegelman in her “new approach to addiction and recovery,” called Rewired.

Staying away from toxic relationships is just as important as sobriety. Former dealers, fellow substance users and areas where drugs were used or acquired in the past are best avoided.

New relationships should be formed, “based on the bedrock of recovery rather than on dependency and fear,” writes Spiegelman because those healthy relationships are “rewarding beyond our wildest dreams.”

Decision Point takes a contemporary view of the disease of addiction. This view sees addiction as a chronic disease which requires a comprehensive, individualized and holistic therapy. The development of life skills should be an integral part of such a therapy, helping patients learn the skills of healthy living and establishing the positive behaviors that will serve them long into the future.