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Learning Life Skills in Treatment: What You Need to Know

If you are the parent of a younger addict, you may be frustrated that your son or daughter did not listen to you when you were trying to teach them the practical skills they would need to succeed in adulthood. In addiction, the focus is typically on where and how to get the alcohol or drugs that fuel daily life and not on the skills necessary to get a job, maintain a bank account, or even hold onto a healthy relationship. Whether you are the addict or the parent of an addict, here are some things you need to know about learning life skills in treatment. The main thing to keep in mind is that when addiction is in control, parents, educators, and other role models lose their authority and ability to influence in positive, nurturing ways. Early drug and alcohol abuse may well stunt a person’s emotional maturity. In a quality treatment program, addicts work on skills that are vital to a healthy and successful life and that can help them continue to improve their quality of life after they’ve completed the treatment.


It is important for the recovering addict’s self-esteem to begin planning for potential employment opportunities, whether that involves searching for a new position or returning to a current employer, even if only on a part-time basis to start. Desirable job skills include:

  • Time management. Showing up on time and not wasting time are critical aspects of most positions. Learning time management skills will also help reduce the stress level.
  • Engaging positively with others. Teamwork is often a requirement in the work world. Learning how to get along and work well with others is crucial.
  • Education / training. On a practical level, the recovering addict may need to attend vocational training sessions to learn specific job skills.
  • Soft skills such as interviewing and on-the-job communication. Knowing how to speak, how to ask questions, and how to present yourself professionally are essential skills for finding and keeping a job.


As an addict, your son or daughter probably did not have a good handle on how they spent their money. As they go through addiction treatment, they will need help learning how to incorporate good money management into their lives and how to develop better skills in:

  • The recovering addict needs to learn how to live within his or her means. Preparing a practical budget and learning how to stick to it will keep them from scrambling to figure out how to pay bills or buy food each month.
  • Managing debt. Living on less than they earn, plus spending money on drugs and alcohol, has put many addicts into seemingly unrecoverable debt. When they learn life skills in treatment, they will learn how to get on top and stay on top of any debt they may have accumulated as an addict.
  • Saving money. Learning how to open a bank account, pay bills, and save money are important steps toward the recovering addict’s financial sobriety.


In recovery, the addict is focused on getting clean and sober. Each day may be a struggle. One of the life skills that is essential to learn in treatment, though, is to look to the future with an eye on specific goals. Goal setting skills include:

  • Recreating life with intent. Used to just moving from one day to the next, the recovering addict will at some point need to look ahead. What does he or she want to accomplish in life, beyond recovery?
  • Getting and staying organized. When the mind is overcome with thoughts of drugs or alcohol, there is very little room for organizing any other thoughts. In treatment, your son or daughter will need to work on the ability to create and stay on a schedule, to organize personal possessions, and to stay focused on what needs to be done to move forward.
  • Becoming independent and relying on self instead of others is an essential life skill for the recovery addict to learn in treatment. Accountability also means following through and seeing tasks to their completion, ignoring distractions and other triggers.


Getting along with others is an important skill for the recovering addict to learn, socially as well as in the workplace. Skills that they may need to learn in treatment include:

  • Connecting with others. Many addicts have severely damaged their personal relationships as a result of their substance use. They may need to learn how to identify and eliminate the unrealistic expectations we place on the people in our lives.
  • Overcoming social anxiety. For someone who has primarily associated with only people he or she used substances with, it is vitally important to learn how to reduce that anxiety to be able to reconnect with others in their lives. This skill can improve your loved one’s self-esteem significantly, helping them to feel they do have a positive and productive place in their new world.


Maintaining a high level of health and wellness enables the recovering addict to think more clearly and to be more successful in treatment. Working through long-term recovery requires healthy habits, including skills in:

  • Cooking and meal preparation. Developing skills in nutrition and healthy eating will help your son or daughter become more self-sufficient while becoming physically healthier.
  • Household cleaning and maintenance. These practical skills are not usually a high priority in addiction. In treatment, life skills such as cleaning and upkeep will enable the recovering addict to feel better about their environment.
  • Personal hygiene and physical fitness. Feeling better about themselves is critical to building the recovering addicts’ self-esteem as well. When they develop skills in keeping themselves clean, properly dressed, and physically active, they will be well on their road to a healthier, addiction-free life.

If You Need Help with Life Skills in Recovery, Contact BRC Recovery At BRC Recovery, we know that no one is beyond help. Our Life Skills Program is designed to equip clients with the skills necessary to navigate through life successfully. Contact our team today by calling 1-866-461-1759.