The Importance of Developing Life Skills in Addiction Recovery

Group of friends studying

When it comes to addiction recovery the most obvious step to take is to stop using drugs and alcohol. But this is really only the very beginning of the process. If the only thing a person does to try and treat addiction is to stop using then chances are the person’s sobriety will not be very stable. In order to truly recover from an addiction, a person must address the underlying issues that lead up to the addiction and develop new life skills in order to stay sober.

So what exactly is meant by the term “life skills?” Well, defines the term as follows: “A skill that helps a person to function well in adult life, especially in social or emotional situations." Why is this so important when it comes to addiction recovery? Because when a person is addicted to drugs or alcohol they are usually not functioning as well as they could be. When substances are used as a means to cope with everyday stresses there is a lack of adequate skills that are needed to get through life.

If a person does not develop the skills that are necessary to successfully navigate life’s ups and downs without resorting to drugs, then they will inevitably keep returning to drug use as the “solution” to their problems. For someone with a history of addiction, this becomes especially problematic.

Because of this, the Narconon Program takes special care to focus on developing life skills that, when properly applied, can enable a person to maintain their sobriety. The main areas of focus include:

Improving communication skills:

Addiction diminishes a person’s ability to communicate in an effective and oftentimes truthful manner. Although the importance of communication skills may be overlooked by some, they are actually a fundamental part of living a life of sobriety. It is only by being able to adequately communicate with others that a person is able to express themselves, maintain healthy boundaries and nurture important relationships.

Grounding oneself in the present moment:

We are only able to truly experience life when we are able to be fully engaged in the current moment. When a person is focused on past mistakes or worried about the future they are unable to effectively connect with the people around them. By learning how to establish oneself in the present moment a person gains the proficiency to live life to the fullest.

Learning how to evaluate relationships with others:

There is no doubt about it that the people a person surrounds themselves with will have a direct effect on their life. This is why it is so important to learn how to recognize people who are constructive and have a positive influence on one’s life and people who are destructive and have a negative impact. When someone is able to effectively evaluate the relationships in their life they will notice an increased level of stability.

Installing a set of personal values and standards:

A common adverse side effect of addiction is the decline of personal values and standards. When feeding an addiction it becomes easy to let things slide that normally wouldn’t. Many times people lose sight of what is truly important in their lives because their minds become so clouded with drugs. This is why it is so important for a person in recovery to reevaluate what is really important to them and how they can learn from past mistakes to improve future behaviors.

Developing formulas for success:

A major component of addiction recovery is recognizing the damage that has been caused and then doing what is possible to repair it. Addiction affects every aspect of a person’s life so each area that was impacted will need attention in the amends process. By learning how to work through and learn from past mistakes a person is better equipped to prevent the same mistakes from occurring in the future. The best part about learning these formulas is that not only can they be applied to mending past damage but they can also be worked to keep improving other areas throughout the course of a person’s life.

With all of the choices for addiction treatment that are out there finding the right program for oneself or a loved one can become a daunting process. One of the most important things to take into consideration when making such an important decision is how a program works to provide a solid foundation for lasting sobriety. When it comes to long-term recovery, developing applicable life skills is an absolute must.



After overcoming her own addiction in 2012 Julie went on to become certified as an addiction counselor in order to help others achieve a life of recovery. She worked in the addiction field for 8 years and now uses both her personal and professional experiences with addiction as an influence for her writing.