Clinically Reviewed by Linda Whiteside, LPCC

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson, MD

5 Skills for People in Outpatient Rehab

Table of Contents

Outpatient rehab is designed to help people recover from substance use disorders. While participating in an outpatient treatment program, clients learn new skills and coping tools to deal with triggers and prevent relapse. They also work daily to address underlying conditions, from mental health disorders to interpersonal conflict, that may be influencing their addictions. During outpatient treatment, people generally experience significant personal growth.

Many people initially begin outpatient treatment with a single goal: to quit drugs and alcohol. However, in the process of doing so clients need to pick up a wide range of skills. These skills are fundamental for long term sobriety, but in many cases they can be applied to many other areas of life as well, including social relationships and mental health.

Outpatient treatment programs teach people countless skills, but 5 essential skills for people in outpatient rehab include:

1. How to Let Go and Relax

When most people quit drugs and alcohol, they may find it very difficult to relax and feel at ease. This is because it is common for people to use drugs and alcohol as a way to unwind. After years of active addiction, recovering addicts often lack the ability to relax without their substance of choice. As such, one of the most important skills people learn in outpatient rehab is how to relax. It may sound funny to “learn” to relax, but it is a skill. While participating in outpatient treatment, your therapists and treatment team will help you find new techniques and activities that can help you unwind and feel calm. It is important to find activities to replace drugs and alcohol that are not unhealthy. After all, you don’t want to replace your drug addiction with, for example, an eating disorder!

Common activities that can help people relax in early recovery include:

  • Going for a walk
  • Playing sports
  • Meditation
  • Listening to music
  • Watching a movie
  • Calling a friend
  • Making art

2. How to Recognize Triggers and Avoid Risky Situations

Early sobriety can be a vulnerable time. After a person has been sober for a while, they may be less susceptible to triggers. However, in the initial days of sobriety the habit of reaching for a drink or drug during times of emotional distress is very strongly ingrained. For this reason, outpatient programs help clients determine what their own personal triggers are. The goal, after all, isn’t just to get sober — it’s to stay sober. Preventing relapse is an essential element of that goal. By identifying triggers in advance, clients can work with their treatment team, therapists, and even other people in recovery to formulate plans for responding to their triggers. In some cases, it might simply make sense to avoid high risk situations. In other cases, however, facing triggers is inevitable. In these cases, clients can confidently confront their triggers armed with a plan for dealing with them in a sober and rational way. Self-knowledge and positive coping tools are two essential skills that people develop in outpatient rehab.

3. How to Cope with Life’s Challenges

No one has all the answers, and everyone faces their share of challenges. During active addiction, it is common for people to try to avoid all of life’s challenges. Drug and alcohol abuse can become a form of escape. Problems go unaddressed and build up over time, becoming increasingly worse. During early sobriety, these problems might seem insurmountable. Debt, damaged relationships, unemployment, and serious health problems are all common. Outpatient programs help support clients as they begin to tackle these issues one at a time. Clients learn the ability to accept life’s challenges as they come, and to do what they can to solve them to the best of their ability. Even after years of sobriety, personal issues are inevitable. While escapism can be tempting, facing things head on is usually the most painless solution.

4. How to Reach Out to Other People

People often spend years trying to get sober or manage their substance abuse on their own. In our culture, we are often told that we must be strong, must stand on our own two feet, and we must have wills of steel. Addictions, however, cannot be cured using raw personal willpower. By enrolling in an outpatient treatment program, you have already begun exploring the power of asking for help. During your outpatient addiction treatment, you will continue to see the power you gain when you accept your powerlessness to control people, places, and things. By reaching out to other people, you make yourself vulnerable, but you are often able to achieve things that are impossible on your own. In an outpatient treatment program, clients learn to ask for help from their peers, their therapists, and even their own families. Isolation and emotional concealment are replaced by community and honesty.

5. How to Rebuild Your Life One Day at a Time

Recovering from a substance use disorder involves far more than just becoming physically abstinent. While it is of course important to stop using drugs and alcohol in order to get sober, recovery is a far larger process. Recovering from an addiction means developing a life that makes you feel joyous, free, and connected. For most people, this means healing relationships and developing new ones. It can mean starting a new career that has meaning for you. It can mean going back to school. In many cases, it means changing your whole approach to life.

It can be tempting to try to fix or change everything in your life right away. During early sobriety, it is common for some people to find themselves on a so-called “pink cloud.” These individuals may feel like their life is wonderful now that they’re sober. With time, the banal realities of life make themselves apparent. During recovery, it is important to take things slowly. Rather than trying to impatiently become a new person, it is usually best to tackle things in small pieces. Just as outpatient programs teach us to stay sober one day at a time, we also learn that rebuilding a life is best done one day at a time. The gains may seem small at first, but they add up.

Find an Outpatient Treatment Center Near You

NuView Treatment Center offers outpatient treatment for addictions of all levels of severity. Our treatment center, located in West Los Angeles, employs highly trained and qualified staff who are educated in the latest evidence-based therapeutic modalities. We provide compassionate individualized treatment plans to help people develop the skills they need to get sober — and stay sober. Moreover, we work with clients to rebuild their lives. At NuView Treatment Center, we believe that recovery from addiction is far more than just quitting drugs and alcohol. It is about developing new sober skills, accepting and facing life’s challenges, and developing important relationships that lend meaning to our lives.

If you are ready to ask for help, reach out to NuView Treatment Center’s Los Angeles outpatient drug rehab today.

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Written By: Linda Whiteside

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson

Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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