5 Life Skills You’ll Need in Recovery and Where to Learn Them

By The Fix staff 01/27/20

From navigating arguments to managing your finances, early recovery is often a crash course in the real world.

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Woman at desk looking at paper and computer screen, budgeting
Money is a huge source of stress for many people. Knowing how to manage your money well can help keep stress at bay. Photo 130345185 © Kamachi209 - Dreamstime.com

It’s often said that people with substance use disorder stop maturing at the age they were when they started using. If you were addicted to drugs or alcohol throughout your teens or young adulthood, you probably missed on out on learning essential life skills. 

That can make early recovery difficult. Not only are you adjusting to your new, sober life, but you’re also making up for lost time in learning life skills that are important for success. The good news is that most recovery programs can help you through this gap, and your sober community can help you learn these essential life skills. 

From conflict resolution to writing a resume and managing your finances, here are the life skills that everyone should learn in early recovery, and where you can find support for learning them. 

1. How To Resolve Conflict

Everyone who has relationships with other people experiences conflict. Whether it’s in your romantic life, among friends or at work, you’re bound get into disagreements now and then. When you find yourself at odds with someone, remember the communication techniques you’ve learned in recovery. Don’t attack or take things personally. Just focus on the issue at hand and working toward a common understanding.

2. How To Write A Résumé

Many people look for a job in early recovery, so having a resume on hand to highlight your skills is important. Many treatment centers and transitional housing programs can connect you with resources that will teach you how to write a great resume. State job programs can also help on this front.

If you’re concerned about gaps in your resume, start with a bulleted section that highlights key skills. That way, you can show the skills and accomplishments that make you stand out, even if they’re not your most recent endeavors. Once you have a great resume on hand, remember that it’s important to tweak it to fit the desired skills of specific jobs that you’re applying to.

3. How To Manage Time and Keep Yourself Accountable

During treatment and transitional periods, you have a lot of structure built into your day. As you get more freedom, it’s important to learn to manage your time well, and to hold yourself accountable for this. Being on time — whether to work or for a meeting — shows that you respect the people you’re meeting with. 

During the early days of recovery consider making a weekly schedule. Make sure that there is time in it for the activities that help you stay sober, like meetings or yoga. Keeping yourself on schedule will help you establish new routines in sobriety.

4. How To Manage Your Money

Money is a huge source of stress for many people. Knowing how to manage your money well can help keep stress at bay. When it comes to financial health, start with the basics: open a bank account and check your credit. From there, you can work with people that you trust to build a financial future. This might include paying past-due balances from active addiction, or saving for your own home.

5. How To Create Healthy Boundaries

One of the most important life skills in recovery is knowing how to set and stick to your boundaries. There are likely certain people and places which you need to distance yourself from. You need to decide what your boundaries will be, communicate them to the people involved, and stick to the stated consequences if people violate your boundaries. Doing this can be difficult, but your recovery team is there to help, since this is critical for protecting your new, sober life.

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