After you have successfully completed a drug and alcohol rehab programme, taking the next steps in your recovery will require that you acquire and practice an essential set of life skills. These skills will be very helpful in assisting you as you build a new lifestyle that is free from drugs and alcohol.
Four Major Dimensions of a Life in Recovery
Before you can begin developing basic life skills in recovery, it’s important that your environment and lifestyle supports your sobriety as well. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines four major dimensions that support a life in recovery.1 These are:
Health – Individuals should be making informed, healthy decisions that support a life in recovery. This includes abstaining from all drug and alcohol use, maintaining a nutritious diet and exercise routine, and properly managing emotional issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression.
Home – All people in recovery should have a safe, stable place to live. This location should be a place where every individual feels secure in sharing and living out their beliefs, is supported, and can live comfortably at all times.
Purpose – It is important for individuals in recovery to partake in meaningful activities on a daily basis. Often times these include volunteering, going to work, or attending a creative class or group activity. Having the independence and resources to be an active and participating member of society is essential to purposeful and meaningful living.
Community – Social support is key to maintaining a life of sobriety and all individuals in recovery should develop and maintain healthy relationships that provide support, love, and friendship.
One study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that many individuals in recovery from addiction reported the following things to be of the utmost priority to them and their recovery:2
Life fulfillment and achievement
Resolving legal issues
Not surprisingly, many of the basic life skills for recovering addicts that are emphasized in sober living programmes are essential to obtaining all of the things listed above.
8 Essential Life Skills for Adults in Recovery
Sober living homes provide individuals in recovery with countless learning experiences and opportunities to develop important life skills that will make the transition back into society much easier. Here are eight of the main life skills residents of the Bridge Foundation sober living houses will learn and practice during their time here.
A common denominator of emotional relapse is poor self-care.3 A high-quality transitional housing program will help clients recognize the importance of self-care as well as what it looks like on a daily basis. Residents should learn and practice the basics of self-care practices within the boundaries of their sober living program. This includes getting adequate sleep, eating nutritious foods, and using coping strategies to combat depression, anxiety, and other negative emotions and thoughts.
2. Cooking meals
Just as making healthy food choices is important, individuals in recovery also need to learn how to create a meal plan, shop for groceries, and prepare their own meals. While living at the Bridge Foundation sober living houses require that residents purchase their own groceries and prepare their own meals, which gives them time to practice this skill and develop a system that works best for them. Living with other men or women in recovery also provides an opportunity to make a meal plan, shop, and cook with a friend instead of facing it all on your own for the first time.
3. Setting and achieving personal goals
One of the top life skills in recovery should also include making goals. Years of continued substance abuse may have left some people feeling hopeless, without any life goals or aspirations. Goals keep life moving forward and prevent old habits from seeping back in. Others may have never had goals in the first place. Fortunately, recovery is the perfect time to start defining and pursuing personal goals. Some examples of positive goals might be:
Going for a run three times a week.
Opening a savings account.
Volunteering for a community organization.
Submitting three job applications each week until employment is secured.
Whatever a person’s goals are in recovery, they should be rewarding and keep them away from drug and alcohol use.4
4. Maintaining a clean living space
Learning how to maintain a clean living space is not just good practice in discipline, but it will also make returning home a whole lot easier, especially for those who have family members. Living with other individuals (whether in a sober living home or in a more traditional home environment) presents its own challenges and obstacles. As individuals in recovery learn to keep their living environment clean and tidy, they also learn the importance of respecting others and considering others’ wants and needs when making decisions.
5. Managing finances
Another primary recovery life skill is managing finances. Financial planning and management may be difficult for a person in recovery, as they may be used to allocating all their money to acquiring drugs and/or alcohol. The time spent in a sober living house will give residents the opportunity to practice budgeting, saving, and planning for these expenses.
6. Building healthy relationships
Building healthy relationships is one of the most important and challenging new life skills for addicts in recovery. While the person in recovery is adjusting to their new life of sobriety, their family and friends will also be adjusting to the change. Regardless of how family and friends respond to an individual’s newfound sobriety, it is vital that people in recovery focus on the following things:
Expressing emotions in a healthy way
Identifying and coping with triggers in social situations
These skills can be gained by interacting with other residents in a sober living home, by attending outpatient support groups, and by building new relationships with other individuals in recovery.
7. Managing time
In the past, people who were addicted most likely spent the majority of their time and energy using or obtaining drugs and/or alcohol. In recovery, these individuals must learn to fill their time with goals, activities, and recovery-oriented work. One of the best ways to practice time management while in a sober living programme is to invest in a daily planner. Using a planner to schedule out free time is a great way to avoid boredom and wasted time, which put a person at higher risk for relapse.
8. Finding and maintaining employment
Maintaining a good job is one of the many things that makes life more meaningful, especially for those in recovery. The Bridge Foundation helps individuals learn how to search for employment using various methods, fill out applications, create or update a resume, and how to properly present themselves in a job interview.