5 Essential Skills for Recovery From Addiction

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Addiction recovery isn’t one set event that takes place. Instead, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, recovery is a process of change. You work, during this process, to not just stop using drugs and alcohol.

Your recovery is when you strive to improve every area of your health and wellness. 

You can achieve your goals and your full potential without being under the control of drugs and alcohol. You don’t have symptoms of physical dependence in recovery. Your symptoms of the brain disease that is addiction are under control. You’re in the abstinence stage of your recovery, whether from opioid addiction, an addiction to alcohol, or another type of substance use disorder. 

Even when you have a severe or long-lasting substance use disorder, you can overcome this chronic disease. People in the addiction recovery process are also like being in remission from a chronic illness such as type 2 diabetes.


Understanding Recovery

Recovery can look different for every person, but it is more than just being sober. Long-term recovery from addictive behaviors should mean a good quality of life overall. Recovery from drug addiction or alcohol use disorders is a lifelong process, and you’re always working on it. 

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Commission (SAMHSA), there are four critical components of a life in recovery:

  • Health: People in recovery are at a point where they’re successfully managing their symptoms of addiction and making other well-informed health choices. You’re proactively supporting your physical and mental health and well-being in recovery from alcohol or drugs. If necessary, you work with health care professionals when you need medical treatment and to ensure mental health conditions are under control. 
  • Home: Part of your recovery process requires having a healthy, stable, and safe place to live.
  • Purpose: In recovery, you should have activities in your daily life that are meaningful to you and help you have independence and contribute to society.
  • Community: These are the relationships and social networks that offer you love and friendship, as well as overall support. Your community could include a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous, or you might participate in an alumni program at your treatment center on your path to recovery. 

SAMHSA goes on to outline some of the specific principles of recovery , which include:

  • Recovery emerges from hope. Your recovery is built on the concept that you can overcome both internal and external challenges. Hope is a crucial component of what drives the recovery process forward.
  • Recovery is self-directed. You are an individual, and you have unique goals for your life. You are in control of how you achieve those goals. In a strong recovery, you should maximize your independence and autonomy as you make decisions.
  • There are many pathways to recovery. This concept considers that every person, in recovery or otherwise has their own needs, background, and culture. There are also differing trauma experiences affecting these pathways. Recovery is built on each of our inherent values as individuals, strengths and talents, coping abilities, and available resources. Your recovery isn’t linear, and setbacks are part of the process. Because of those setbacks, resilience is critical.
  • Your recovery is holistic. Your body, mind, spirit, and community are all part of your recovery.
  • Mutual support groups of your peers can positively affect recovery and reduce relapse rates. They can encourage and help you feel like you belong. Support groups include 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous. Some programs aren’t 12-step, like Smart Recovery. 
  • There are cultural influences that are relevant to your recovery. Your recovery needs to integrate your values, beliefs, and traditions.
  • You have to address trauma. Experiencing trauma often contributes to alcohol and drug use and co-occurring mental health disorders. Without addressing that trauma, it’s challenging to experience a fulfilling recovery.
  • The resources available to you in your community, your family, and your responsibility and accountability all become part of your journey.

With these key things in mind, the following are some of the skills you should have in your recovery from addiction.


Skills You Need in Your Recovery From Addiction

The following are the skills you’ll begin to develop while you’re in a substance abuse treatment program. These are things you will need to meet the principles of recovery above then and have the fulfilling life you want and deserve.


Independent Living Skills

We talk above about the role independence and autonomy have in your recovery. You need to feel independent and self-sufficient to respect yourself and earn it from others. That doesn’t mean that you don’t rely on other people when you need social support or community resources to stay connected.

It does mean that ultimately being an addict is no longer your identity. Your life isn’t driven by drug-seeking and use.

Instead, you’re working toward having a stable home and maintaining a daily routine. You take care of yourself physically, you eat well, and you begin to gain a sense of purpose as well as financial independence.


You Can Control Your Emotions

We all have emotions, and sometimes they can feel intense and overwhelming. That’s perfectly normal. You also can’t control things that happen externally. However, the old saying goes that you can control how you respond.

Maybe you’ve relied for so long on drugs and alcohol as your emotional crutch. Now, you’ll learn how to operate in life without that form of self-medication.

You’ll grow to become more emotionally stable throughout a successful recovery. You’ll also be able to identify those situations that could trigger your emotions to deal with them during the stages of recovery appropriately.

Behavioral therapy can be a valuable part of learning how to control your emotions and symptoms of any co-occurring mental health issues common in people with addictions. 


Avoiding Risky Situations

We talk about this above, and it’s a skill you need to refine independently of any others. You want to spot high-risk situations for yourself and then take action to avoid them as part of your relapse prevention plan. 

High-risk situations can be essentially anything. For example, maybe when you’re alone, you feel isolated, leading to a high-risk situation. On the other hand, certain people may make you want to use drugs or alcohol when you’re around them.


Coping Skills

If you go to an addiction treatment program, a large chunk of your work will focus on developing healthy coping skills.

Coping means learning to manage stressful or negative situations and stay balanced. You can maintain a positive self-image. The problem doesn’t get the best of you. You don’t turn to unhealthy coping strategies because you have a positive approach in place instead, and you’re ready to use them.

Coping strategies vary depending on what you feel works best for you.

During a recovery program like drug addiction treatment, you’ll hone in on coping skills that you can apply in your daily life with a substance abuse counselor. 



Self-care is truly a skill, and it can also be one of your core coping mechanisms to help you have a productive life. When you practice self-care, you are valuing yourself. You’re taking time to feed your spirit, and this is what will allow you to remain resilient in the face of challenges.

Self-care is part of what will help you maintain long-term success in your recovery journey.

Practicing self-care can become a replacement for drugs or alcohol.

Taking care of yourself can be as simple as getting enough sleep and fueling your body and brain with nutritious foods. Practicing yoga or mindfulness are other examples of simple ways to integrate self-care into your life.


Final Thoughts

So, what is the first step in recovery from addiction? A treatment program with qualified medical professionals is the best first step you can take once you acknowledge a problem and begin to take a personal inventory. 

When you participate in a rehab program, you don’t just work on getting sober from an addictive substance. You also learn the skills above for a successful recovery in the long term. Call 855-953-1345 and get in touch with the team at Opus Health to learn more about effective treatments for alcohol addiction, opioid use disorders, or other types of active addiction. 

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