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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Life Skills Taught in Recovery: How To Foster Independence and Healthy Habits

 Returning to daily life after completing a recovery program is a big transition to

navigate. In addition to the priority of maintaining sobriety, there are many challenges as you strive to be independent and integrate back into a daily routine. Responsibilities such as work, housing, cooking, cleaning, relationships, school, health, and many others require a set of life skills to effectively balance while also practicing active recovery. 

It can feel like you are starting all over once you enter this chapter of life, and may even feel like an overwhelming juggling act. Fortunately, recovery programs like ours focus on teaching and cultivating a variety of important life skills that will assist you as you make the transition to life after treatment. These skills are meant to help maintain sobriety while enjoying a fulfilling life! 

Learning Skills to Set Yourself Up for Success

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) speaks on four major dimensions of life that support recovery and sobriety: 

  • Health
  • Home
  • Purpose
  • Community

While in our recovery program, your counselors will work with you to strengthen skills in all of these domains, so that when you leave the program, you are set up for success in your new-found sobriety. Many of these skills will be familiar and will be tools that you have utilized prior to entering recovery. Some of these skills may be completely new or perhaps can be developed more. Regardless of your familiarity with these skills, maintaining an open mind will be beneficial as you absorb the guidance and begin practicing these tools on your recovery journey. 

Recovery programs, such as The Haven, offer evidence-based treatment and opportunities to develop these vital life skills that will make sober living post-treatment that much easier. Although each individual’s recovery journey is unique and personal, many established recovery programs provide experiences to foster basic life skills and practice healthy habits to guide you in living a meaningful, sober life. 

Below are some of the skills you will learn in recovery! 

Coping Mechanisms

We all encounter stress in our lives, and if we have not learned healthy coping skills to alleviate and prevent stress, our lives can be filled with worry and anxiety. In the past, when life got overwhelming, turning to substances may have been your previous go-to coping mechanism - now that you are practicing sobriety, it’s important to develop and utilize alternative coping tools that are healthy and beneficial. 

Independent Living Skills

Oftentimes, addiction erases an individual’s ability to care for themselves and lead an independent, fulfilling life. In a recovery program, you will revisit and strengthen habits such as: 

  • Maintaining a daily routine
  • Eating and cooking nutritious meals
  • Managing financial responsibilities and adhering to a realistic budget
  • Engaging in routine exercise and physical activity 
  • Preserving personal hygiene, health, and cleanliness
  • Finding and maintaining employment
  • Fortifying time management and organizational skills

Emotional Regulation

Through identifying, understanding, and processing your emotions, you will learn to explore and tolerate your emotions in a healthy manner. Many times, people exhibit intense emotional reactions based on their history, patterns, and self-worth issues. You may have used substances as a way to soothe uncomfortable or distressing feelings. In recovery, you will learn how to address the underlying emotional issues and find healthier self-soothing alternatives. 

Building Healthy Relationships 

Your relationships have most likely been affected by your substance use, and repairing and establishing healthy interpersonal connections is one of the most important, yet challenging skills to incorporate into sober living. In a recovery program, you will be awarded the opportunity to learn how to:

  • Communicate clearly and effectively
  • Establish appropriate boundaries
  • Express your emotions in a healthy manner
  • Actively listen
  • Identify and cope with triggers, especially in social scenarios
  • Showcase empathy and compassion


Practicing self-care as a part of your daily routine is an integral component of experiencing wellness and vitality. Self-care is unique and individualized, so it can be challenging to find practices that work for you. A recovery program will guide you in understanding the basics of self-care, identifying habits that address your personalized needs, and allow you the safe space of beginning to integrate these practices into your daily life. 

Why Are These Skills Important?

Once you leave a recovery program, having a variety of life skills is so important as you venture into the next step of your journey. You will be equipped with tools, habits, and a deeper understanding for yourself -- these will all guide you in experiencing a thriving and fulfilling life.  

You will be prepared to navigate the day to day challenges and obstacles, in a way that doesn’t compromise your integrity, your happiness, or your health. 

The Haven is a safe and compassionate partner in your recovery journey, and we are here to provide encouragement and education in establishing life skills to help you be the best version of yourself!