Skills for Recovering Addicts

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  1.  Assertiveness ~ Assertiveness is having the confidence to say no when needed, and accepting limits set by others. It is taking responsibility for the consequences of your actions while allowing others to own their own feelings and actions. It means doing these things even if they make you unpopular or challenge you to step outside your comfort zone. In some cases, it may mean ending a relationship with someone who repeatedly disrespects your boundaries.
    Positive communication requires people in recovery to let go of familiar tactics like manipulation and replace them with assertiveness. This doesn’t mean getting pushy or demanding what you want, but rather approaching others with honesty and straightforwardness to prevent misunderstandings and to protect yourself from being taken advantage of.  Assertiveness is a skill that enables people to find “win – win” solutions to different situations.
  2. Using Positive Self-Talk and Self-Thought ~ Self-talk can affect your perspective. It can boost you up or take you down.  Self-Talk and Self-Thought are the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information.  Using positive Self-Talk and Thoughts are vital to manage stress and help the body maintain balance especially early in recovery.
  3. Openness ~ Openness in interpersonal communication is not only a person’s willingness to self-disclose and to reveal information about himself or herself as appropriate. Openness also includes a willingness to listen openly and to react honestly to the messages of others.
  4. Listening ~ When people give up an addiction they can spend a great deal of time talking. This is particularly likely if they join a recovery fellowship or enter group therapy. There is no doubt that talking can help people recover from their addiction, but sometimes it can be far more helpful to listen. This will allow the individual to soak up the information they need, and it can also allow them to be of comfort to other people. Listening is a skill that most addicts will have failed to develop. It is something that they will need to learn to do in order to build a successful life away from addiction.
  5. Empathy ~ The ability to understand other people is an important skill for those recovering from an addiction. Those who abuse alcohol and drugs sometimes can be highly self-absorbed and selfish. This will usually bring them into conflict with other humans. The addict may have been the source of a great deal of suffering for family and friends. When these individuals become sober it will be necessary to take a new approach to dealing with other people. Part of this will involve learning to listen and trying to be empathetic.
  6. Thought Stopping ~ Sometimes unwanted thoughts simply will not go away and we spend a lot of time and energy focused on the wrong things. Thought stopping is a simple, but effective tool for getting rid of those unwanted and unnecessary thoughts.  Thought stopping develops the mental discipline needed to consciously take control over an unwanted, unconscious behavior.
  7. Mindfulness ~ Mindfulness is the state of being present in the here and now It means being in the moment, and being in your body instead of being on autopilot.  Mindfulness allows you to harness the power of both emotional and rational parts together.  It involves not being blinded by emotionality so as to ignore logic and not being so rational that you ignore your feelings.  Mood swings are common in early recovery.  Practicing not going off the deep end in either direction is very beneficial.
  8. Distress Tolerance ~ Distress Tolerance skills are used when we are unable, unwilling, or it would be inappropriate to change a situation.  It’s important to use the right skills at the right time.  Distress Tolerance skills are used to help us cope and survive during a crisis, and helps us tolerate short term or long term pain (physical or emotional pain).
  9. Emotion Regulation ~ In recovery, emotions can frequently be very intense and labile, which means they change often. Emotions often drive behavior. A lot of behavior focuses around finding ways to get our emotions validated or to get rid of the pain in some way.  This involves learning how to regulate emotions.
  10. Interpersonal Effectiveness ~ Our interactions with other people are a common source of stress and can lead to unhealthy behaviors. Many people have spent a lifetime suppressing their own values and goals, live with anger and guilt, or living lives of quiet frustration. Much of that has to do with how we communicate with others: at home, at work, at school, and as we go about our daily lives.  Learning to assert ourselves is crucial in learning to say no, building our self-respect, and dealing with drinking or drugging situations.

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