Life Skills for Young Adults in Addiction RecoveryPat Fontana
Young adulthood is typically a time to learn essential life skills such as how to handle finances and manage a job search. When the young adult is focused almost entirely on where and how to get the next supply of drugs or alcohol, though, those life skills become a very low priority. Life skills for young adults in addiction recovery can help them become more productive and more confident, as they learn how to successfully manage the daily challenges of a life without drugs or alcohol.
One of the most important life skills for young adults in addiction recovery is understanding how to take care of themselves so they can lead a healthier life. Self-care includes the basics of personal hygiene, physical fitness, good nutrition, and keeping a home clean and in good order. Self-care is also about finding ways to manage stress and emotions, which might be as simple as listening to soothing music or might include yoga or mindfulness activities. In essence, self-care is about addressing the urge to use drugs or alcohol and replacing that urge with something that is far more helpful and healthy.
The only routine a person may have had as an addict was getting their drugs or alcohol, consuming them, and then recovering from using. In addiction recovery, an important life skill to learn is how to establish a positive routine, including how to show up on time, how to manage their time so they accomplish everything that needs to be done to be properly prepared, and how to fulfill their commitments in a timely manner for work or school.
Time management also involves using time wisely so as not to become bored, which can become a trigger for substance use. A structure or routine for each day with well-planned time blocks is essential to becoming a responsible young adult in recovery.
A paper planner or calendar can help give a visual of the day’s activities, including support group meetings, therapy and doctor appointments, work hours, school deadlines, and other important activities throughout each day. Young adults may also want to upload an app that will help them with reminders about appointments and due dates.
Budgeting, banking, and using credit cards wisely are critical life skills for young adults in addiction recovery. Understanding how to budget money so that bills are paid on time was probably not a concern when they were in the throes of addiction, but now that they are starting to learn how to live independently, young adults will need the skills of financial management to be successful.
For some people, cash and ways to get cash, such as an ATM, can become triggers. In this case, it will become especially important to understand how to spend wisely, how to save, and how to manage a bank account so that they can transition to a more positive and stable lifestyle.
In addiction, the main goal is typically focused on getting drugs or alcohol. In a productive and successful life after addiction, young adults need to know how to set life goals that focus on school, work, family, and their own mental and physical health. They may want to further their education, learn how to cook more nutritious meals, get more physically fit, or begin a new career.
Another of the most important life skills for young adults in addiction recovery is understanding how to search for, secure, and keep a job. They will need to learn how to interview for a job and make a positive impression on an employer, how to apply for a job in writing, how to dress, and how to prepare a résumé or work history.
Beyond the job search, it is important to also know about the “real world” of the workplace environment. The young person entering the job field should know as much as possible about what work is, work values, career exploration, workers’ and employers’ rights, discrimination, and maintaining employment.
Also critical in the work environment, as well as in life, are skills needed to communicate effectively. Open and honest communications are essential to building, or rebuilding, healthy relationships. Addiction, by its very nature, requires lying. Addicts must lie about getting their drug, hiding the drug, denying the consequences, and planning their next relapse. Eventually, addicted individuals end up lying to themselves. Learning how to communicate productively, with others as well as with themselves, is one of the most important life skills for young adults in addiction recovery.
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