The Importance of Life Skills

Opioids by the Numbers
May 1, 2018

The Importance of Life Skills


By Dandrae Bristol


It is no surprise that people struggling with alcohol or drug addiction usually are not able to overcome addiction on their own. Treatment centers are essential resources for individuals struggling with addiction issues. Unfortunately, 40 to 60 percent of people who go through a rehab program relapse after leaving treatment. Current statistics reveal that people who are attempting successful recovery attend a rehab program an average of 11 times, which means that much more is needed than short term rehabilitation for a solution.  Therefore, learning Life skills in an aftercare program and implementing them into a daily routine is essential for long-term recovery.


Most treatment centers provide the necessary strategies and resources to help individuals overcome his or her addiction problem, but once discharged, it is imperative that a new way of thinking and ultimately acting is developed.  Otherwise, each person is at risk of returning to their previous solution which leads right back to demoralizing addiction.


Why Life Skills Training is Important

Life skills are not only essential for maintaining sobriety, but improving one’s quality of life so that purpose and enjoyment are achieved. Life skills dramatically increase success in the following areas:

  • Ability to maintain strong friendships and relationships
  • Physical and emotional health
  • Practical coping tools
  • Improved decision-making skills
  • Advancement in career


Research by the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that alcoholics who develop necessary life skills markedly enhanced their quality of life, thus relapse was greatly reduced. Life skills are essential steps on the road towards long-term sobriety.


Learning to Handle Basic Daily Responsibilities

Most addicts have lived in a fog, concerned only with obtaining more of their drug of choice, and obtaining the money to fund their habit. They lose the ability to handle basic daily responsibilities and lose confidence in ever being able to get back on track.



Developing a healthy routine is the most essential life skill for a recovering addict. Treatment centers encourage activities that help individuals adhere to a daily schedule during their treatment such as attending 12 step meetings, therapy, exercise, and meals. A typical schedule involves waking up at the same time every day and going to bed at a set bedtime. Routines are important in helping a recovering addict to learn structure.  There is only 1 thing that needs to change: everything.





Getting and keeping a job or advancing in a career that may be threatened due to addiction is a life skill that many addicts require immediate assistance with.  Employment also instills a sense of responsibility and confidence that has often times been sorely lacking.  Employment includes:

  • ‘Get Well’ jobs which are intended to get individuals back into a routine of going to work
  • Transitioning into a satisfying career
  • Career advancement/optimization
  • Training and education in alignment with an ideal career


Financial Stability

Learning to handle finances and money responsibly is a skill that many addicts have completely lost sight of. Financial stability means:

  • Learning how to live within your means
  • Taking care of obligations
  • Using money responsibly


Social Skills

Many addicts are very self-centered and struggle with loneliness. Learning how to interact appropriately with others is an important skill. Successful recovery usually requires making a new circle of friends and avoiding hanging out with old friends instigated or condoned addiction habits. Some important social skills include:

  • Self-awareness and understanding
  • Mentorship and coaching
  • Getting involved with a like-minded community where it is safe to engage and share
  • Learning to set appropriate boundaries and interacting with others in a healthy way