What Is Life Skill Training for Recovering Addicts?
For a while the only knowledge I had was centered on my addiction to meth. I was an expert in all things meth. I knew where to get it, the best kind for the least amount of money. I knew all the ways to take it. Whether you wanted to smoke, shoot, or snort, I could show you the ins and outs of all the methods.
When I was on meth, I was talking about meth. When I wasn’t on it (rarely), I was looking to get it. My whole life revolved around it. I’d find others like me and we’d sit around doing it together and talking about people we knew that do meth, who does it the best, who has the best meth, who is the grossest meth head, you get the picture. I was an all around expert on meth.
Getting Back in Touch with the Basics of Daily Living
When it came to paying the bills, being a friend, having housing, or even eating, I was lost. I had replaced all of my life skills with skills that supported my addiction. I didn’t even know how to sleep. I had replaced sleep with paranoia and my health was getting increasingly worse.
After getting out of the outpatient program at Discovery Transitions I had a plan because I had built a foundation of life skills in the program. I had doubts about going to an outpatient program, but in the end, it was the best situation for me.
The Benefits of Learning Life Skills in Recovery
According to the WHO, “Life skills are “The abilities for adaptive and positive behaviors that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life.” “Adaptive” means that a person is flexible in approach and is able to adjust in different circumstances. “Positive behavior” implies that a person is forward looking and even in difficult situations can identify a ray of hope and opportunities to find solutions.”
Adults strive for life skills, but even the most seasoned person who has everything together can find challenges in life that are overwhelming. When I graduated from Discovery Transitions Outpatient everything felt new again, including building skills that helped me navigate everything from finding a new apartment to dating.
Life Skills as a Support Against Relapse
If I hadn’t had the foundation of life skills that had been built during my time in recovery at Discovery Transitions, I would have felt entirely lost and been extremely susceptible to ending up back on the streets with my biggest achievement being a meth expert.
The biggest challenge for me to overcome was my negativity. I didn’t believe in hope. I learned how that negativity had led me to using meth in the first place. In the outpatient program I had a therapist who was able to give me skills to counter my negative thinking.
Why Is Teaching Life Skills Important?
This proved to be immensely helpful. Another skill I learned through the group therapy program I was part of at Discovery Transitions, that most likely everyone will learn, is being adaptable. Childhood trauma had left me scared and vulnerable when it came to life changes. I couldn’t adapt, so I adapted by using meth.
It helped me to escape from reality. What helped me return to reality was learning coping techniques. Now, when a challenge comes my way I know breathing techniques and to ask for support. I know that I can face a problem piece by piece and do the best I can.
The great thing about Discovery Transitions is that you can build your individualized program. For example, if I needed help detoxing and that’s all I wanted, I could do that. I found though, the most important aspect of my treatment was learning life skills. As I stated above, if I hadn’t had those skills I would have been susceptible to losing my sobriety.
Most importantly, if you don’t want to relapse, according to the NIH, understanding life skills and understanding the signs of relapse are crucial to any recovery program. I am thankful that Discovery Transitions taught me life skills. I strongly believe that my ability to cope can be attributed to the skills I learned in recovery.
Awareness Of Self and Others through Life Skills
I did know a person who I had used with who went to recovery for only detox. It was several years into my recovery. I was doing great, I had a job, a house, and I was dating a person who I would later marry. One day, while I was on my way to work, I passed by someone on the sidewalk.
They yelled my name. I turned around and realized that it was a person who I had used with. I sat for a while with them, and they told me about how after they had detoxed they had been sober for a while. It was hard though, too hard.
At first, they just focused on being sober and were even able to find a part time job and a shelter to live. After a few months of working double shifts they had saved up enough for a deposit. An unfortunate series of events happened though. Their car was towed, they had to pay for a parking ticket, and they lost the money for the deposit. Because they didn’t have the coping skills they began to use again. Then they lost everything and ended up on the streets. I felt very fortunate at that moment for the skills I’d learned.
Problem Solving and Applied Critical Thinking as Life Skills
According to several studies by the NIH 75% of patients relapsed one year after treatment. Learning life skills in recovery is part of the recovery process. Life skills are the key to living a functional, productive life. I realized while in my outpatient program at Discovery Transitions that the reason I had ended up there was because I was lacking in them.
I made it my top priority to learn from my mistakes and understand what could prevent them going forward. The CDC suggests that being able to identify high risk situations could help prevent relapse. It was crucial for me to understand what a high risk was for me and to pay attention to the life skills I needed in order to navigate those.
I always have a working list of these, for me whenever I go through emotional challenges at work I feel a need to use meth. I have a method for when that happens that I’ve trained myself to use and it works every time even when I feel like I’m simply going through the motions.
The Goal of Life Skills Training for Recovering Addicts
I don’t mean to make any of this sound easy. Life is anything but easy. I’ve been through a lot in my recovery. I think the most overwhelming part is that we learn in recovery that our whole life will be recovery. I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around that. Yet, I still keep going. On the toughest days where things seemed hopeless, I went to bed and I woke up and I was alive.
That is the miracle of it all, we still keep going through life’s challenges. It may seem like that isn’t the truth and that isn’t possible. Perhaps that’s why we, as addicts, try and find a way out of moving forward.
Because we assume that it isn’t possible to move forward when we stare failure in the face. The present is painful or the future impossible, so we choose to stay in the past.
Having the Tools Needed for the Challenge of Living Sober
The goal of life skills training for recovering addicts isn’t to make your life perfect. It isn’t even to become perfect at life skills. What I learned while attending the outpatient program at Discovery Transitions is that life isn’t perfect. When it throws us challenges, we need to be prepared even when we are in the best conditions.
Addicts are more vulnerable to these issues. We have trained our bodies to respond to challenges by numbing ourselves. We have to have a lot of tools and methods for when we face these challenges. We need to understand how to get up when we fall down.
The Life Skill of Accepting Personal Responsibility
I had my second child last year. There were many complications that I could have never predicted. Luckily she survived and is healthy. But I struggled more than ever coping. One of the biggest goals of life skills (other than realizing perfection isn’t the endgame) is to remember that you can ask for help.
Anytime you are struggling, tell someone. Let them know you need support. Having a solid set of life skills includes realizing that we are all human and there is no shame in asking for help. Sometimes we need to work as a team to overcome and there are plenty of resources out there when you need that.
Accomplish Your Recovery with Discovery Transitions
Don’t give up, and what seems like a storm will soon pass. I am thankful for all the challenges. I am also thankful for Discovery Transitions, without my time at their program I’m not sure if I’d be the person I am today. They helped build a strong foundation of life skills that I am using to this day.
If you are in doubt about your ability to stay clean and sober, reach out to the Admissions team at Discovery today, they can help answer questions about sober supports, life skills, and give you options for the assistance you need – and deserve.