Life Skills in recovery

Around 1 in 7 people in the United States will struggle with addiction at some point in their lives.

Many of these people are college students or young adults.

While addiction affects many people, many are also able to recover from their addiction.

As these people reach out for help and start preparing for life after addiction, this can be the hardest part.

Many people who have substance use disorder do not have basic life skills required to function in society. At Burning Tree West, we don’t just want our clients to be sober.

We want them to be able to live a life of excellence beyond sobriety.

This means that they will need to learn basic skills to be productive members of society.

As you start rebuilding your life after recovery, there are certain skills that will help you succeed.

Some of these are:


For people who are struggling with addiction, communication skills are often strained.

To begin recovering, it’s important to have a strong support system to lean on. Without healthy, honest, and productive communication, these relationships aren’t contributing to your recovery as much as they can.

Loss of friendships and other relationships often stem from a person’s inability to communicate with others in a healthy way. People who are struggling with addiction often keep thoughts and feelings inside or lash out if they’re having a difficult time. Part of building communication skills is learning to speak honestly but respectfully, as well as learning to confide in others.

Building healthy boundaries is also an important part of learning to communicate. Communication is one of the most important early recovery skills because it makes the person struggling with addiction feel like they have a community supporting them.

Evaluating Relationships

Once you’ve learned how to communicate in a healthy way, it’s important to evaluate the relationships in your life.

On your road to recovery, your recovery should come first. So, if you have people in your life who don’t support your recovery, it’s time to re-evaluate your relationship with those people.

People who lack support will often partake in the activity in front of the recovering addict, pressure them to join in, or make negative comments about their efforts. Recovery is very difficult at times, and for that reason, surrounding yourself with positive relationships is essential.

Not only should your support system be respectful of what you’re facing addiction with, but they should be contributing to your mental health positively as well. If you find yourself feeling torn down, anxious, and all-around negative when you interact with certain people, those relationships may also need to be re-evaluated.

Part of recovering is having a positive state of mind, and any added negativity should be eliminated as much as possible.

Living in the Present More

Many of us have a habit of dwelling on mistakes from the past.

We may think about that argument that we feel guilty about or a certain choice that led to other poor choices. Rather than dwelling on the past, it’s important to acknowledge the past has happened and look for ways to do better in the present and future.

For example, if you’ve caused a scene at a family get together, rather than feeling ashamed of that, think about how you can avoid that behavior at the next family gathering. Make it a point to avoid any of the triggers that caused that behavior, and focus on creating a positive experience when you have the chance.

Living with regret is not going to change what has happened, but living in the present and being conscious of your current choices will pave the way for a better future. As you’re rebuilding your life after addiction, try to enjoy your moments as they come instead of sabotaging them with your past.

Developing a Set of Personal Standards and Values

When a person gets so wrapped up in the substance they’re addicted to, they often forget their set of moral standards and values.

When a substance consumers your life, it’s hard to be as invested in the other parts of life. This is why one of the most important early recovery skills is finding those standards and values again.

What can you remember being important before your life was put on pause due to your addiction? Did you value being on time? Or, maybe respect was a value you held high.

Try to remember some of the standards and values you once cherished. If you’re ready, try to come up with some more as well.

If you fell into a pattern of over-indulging and making problematic decisions as a result, use moderation as a new value. Practice moderation in all aspects of your life. From food, to screen time, to even time spent sitting down, moderation can be applied in many areas of life.

Recognize which activities or habits you enjoy but that aren’t directly improving your life and put a limit on them. This will give you more time to focus on the goals you have for yourself. Plus, moderation is directly related to self-control, which is important for life in recovery.

Regardless of the values that you choose to hold yourself to, having values acts as a guide for us in life. Values and standards weed out the negative activities or habits that we are absolutely not willing to partake in. Or, they can limit them.

Take some time to think about what’s important to you and start practicing those values as often as possible.

Creating Formulas for Success

This goes along well with setting values and standards.

When you understand what is driving you, you can set a destination for where you want to go. Think about what you want the most in life.

Maybe you want to completely give up the substance you’ve been addicted to for at least 5 years. Or, maybe you want to help others struggling with the same addiction one day. When you think about what is important to you in the future, you can create a path for getting there.

Make your goals specific, attainable, and relevant to your current situation. This will help you fully see and understand what you’re working towards and will motivate you to keep pushing.