Nobody can go through addiction recovery alone. If we are to remain sober, we need a healthy support network upon whom we can lean when we need help. But for some people, this will be difficult to attain. Some of us have found that our social skills were lacking while in active addiction. Maybe we thought they were lacking already, and believed that drugs and alcohol helped us to face social circumstances with more ease. Or perhaps we became isolated while in addiction, and this was the source of our social struggle.
No matter what your specific social struggles may have been, there is a need to fix them in recovery. Naturally, social skills have their own benefits; however, they also have many benefits that relate specifically to addiction recovery itself. We will discuss some highly important examples of social skills below, along with the various benefits they have to offer. We will also spend some time discussing how the personalized care provided by Amethyst Recovery can help you in developing them. Socializing may seem easy from the outside, but those of us who have struggled are all too aware that addiction and alcoholism can have a great impact on one’s ability to interact with other people.
This is why we must do what we can to get over our social hurdles and work on our communication skills. Prolonged isolation will only lead to relapse. At the same time, we may occasionally find ourselves in social situations that might make it all too tempting to drink or abuse other substances. Avoiding these situations is important. But before we get to that, let’s discuss the more general benefits of honing our social skills.
Social Skills for Their Own Benefit
Those who have entered treatment in one of our programs will find that they still have some things to work on during the aftercare process. Patients will need to reintegrate themselves back into the world without using drugs and alcohol as a crutch to avoid dealing with others. And if they plan to follow the Twelve Steps, they will eventually have to engage in some rather tough conversations while making amends to those they have wronged. This will be even harder if they have held resentments against these people in the past.
The thing is, the ability to embrace forgiveness or to make amends to those we have wronged does not apply solely to recovery. We do this constantly in our everyday lives. We are not saints, and we must occasionally take a look at the way we have communicated with people if we are to keep our relationships healthy and stable. This can be something of a balancing act, as we must possess both confidence and humility in order to succeed. If we doubt ourselves too much, we may not say what we need to say, and we will unintentionally come across as insincere. But if we are arrogant, believing that people are somehow obligated to forgive us, then we will only create more friction.
Don’t think that social skills are all about harm reduction, because this is far from the truth. We also need to develop our social skills in order to enjoy life to its fullest. It’s important that we learn to make friends, whether they are in recovery or not. We talk a lot about the need for a support network, but sometimes we just need people around in general. You’ve likely seen no shortage of media in which characters laud “the power of friendship.” This is a real thing. Anyone who has had a truly meaningful relationship with a platonic companion is aware of the enrichment that it brings to one’s life.
Developing social skills can also help those who are seeking employment. You’ll need decent social skills to ace your job interview, and to get along with your coworkers so that you can maintain a comfortable working environment. No employer wants to hire or promote a person who appears disinterested or apathetic about their career, so proper self-expression can be integral to success in the workplace. More than that, you’ll find that those who work with you—or interact with you in general—will be much easier to get along with if you get along more easily yourself.
Recovery-Based Social Skills
We have already discussed the needs to make amends, stabilize our relationships and build a support network. While these particular social skills may stand on their own merits quite well, they can also be quite vital to our recovery. There are other social skills, however, that are almost entirely recovery-based. These include finding a sponsor, sharing or telling our stories in meetings, and learning how to say no when we are offered drugs and alcohol.
It’s important to realize that finding a sponsor really isn’t that different from meeting anyone else. That said, the importance of the task may cause us to respond with fear. Approaching a perfect stranger can already be intimidating, more so when we have to approach a stranger and tell them that we require their help. In addition, knowing that we will eventually require this person’s trust when performing Step Five makes it feel like a highly important decision. In this instance, we should remember that social skills are about more than knowing how to talk to people—we must also know how to listen. If we have heard them share stories in meetings with which we found we were able to relate, then the likelihood is that this person will probably be the right choice for us. And if they turn out to be less than desirable, we always have the freedom to seek a new sponsor.
Learning how to share in meetings and tell our stories can be relatively intimidating as well. Relating our moral inventory to a sponsor may have seemed difficult, but at least we knew that we had a level of confidentiality. When sharing in a meeting, we do not necessarily know everyone in attendance. We have no idea whether or not a specific person might repeat what they have heard. But remember what we said about some of the social skills mentioned above—there is a need to balance confidence with humility. We must remain confident that our story may have the potential to help others, while simultaneously realizing that our lives are not necessarily more important than anybody else’s. So while there are those who may benefit from hearing our tale, it would be an act of hubris to assume that anything we say is worthy of gossip.
The last recovery-based skill pertains largely to relapse prevention. We may not think of social skills when we think of the need to say no to drugs and alcohol when offered by a friend who may not be in recovery, but there is certainly a line to walk here if we do not wish to lose a friendship over the matter. If someone knows that we are in recovery and tries to pressure us to do something that could be hazardous to our well-being, then it is time to cut ties as respectfully as possible. But if they are unaware of our condition, then we should not fault them. We cannot tell you to reveal your status as an addict or alcoholic if you do not feel it is right to do so. But if you want to establish a trust with someone, then you must be able to do this at one point or another. As long as you feel you can trust the person and that they will not discuss your condition without your permission, you may find the experiencing to be incredibly relieving.
How Amethyst Recovery Can Help
The social skills we have mentioned above come largely with time and practice. That said, treatment at a facility that offers life skills training to those who need it will go a long way. Amethyst Recovery is such a treatment center. Patients here will participate in not only individual therapy, but group therapy as well. They will learn how to trust each other and work together in order to help ensure their recovery as a community.
Patients who opt to seek residence in our sober living facilities will be able to reap these benefits long after they have finished treatment. Not only will they continue to assist one another in staying sober, but they will also be able to hone all of the social skills needed to share a living space with others. It is important for recovering addicts and alcoholics to learn how to live harmoniously with other people, even when their personalities are not always in tune. During our active periods of addiction, we were often prone to using the slightest annoyances as an excuse for substance abuse. In sober living, residents may learn to voice their cares and concerns for their housemates in a healthy manner rather than bottling everything up until they reach a level of emotional disturbance that may lead to relapse.
The other major benefit of sober living is the increased exposure to the outside world. Residents can practice all of the social skills described above, while seeking comfort in the knowledge that they can return to a secure and sober recovery community at the end of the day. This option is especially great for young people in recovery, people who have not had as much time to develop their social skills over the course of their life and who are less likely to have children or demanding careers pressuring them to cease treatment earlier than necessary.
Social skills are not the backbone of recovery, but they certainly play a major role in its success. They help us to thrive and prosper in the world from which we have hidden for so long. They help us develop healthy and stable relationships with people who will support us during the occasionally trying times that we face in early sobriety. More than anything, they help keep us happy, to the point that we eventually cannot even consider returning to the lifestyle of loneliness and isolation that we suffered during our addiction. For more information on our sober living facilities or our treatment programs, simply pick up the phone and contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.