Why are communication skills so important for recovery and sobriety?
Communication skills help addicts recover from addiction by being better able to convey their thoughts and feelings without needing substances. Communication is the keystone of human interactions. It is nearly impossible to make it through a day without communicating with another person in some way. However, without the skills to effectively communicate a person may not be able to express their wants or needs properly. In some cases, a person may be afraid of communicating their needs for fear of how another person will react. Without knowing how to properly express themselves a person could lash out or give a wrong impression.
There is also the possibility of a person misreading other’s intentions because of poor social skills. These types of interacts could impact anyone who is recovering from addiction. Whether it is with family or someone else, communication fails could result in complicated relationships. Without learning how to properly express themselves, a person not only risks unintentional tension in social situations. A person with poor communication skills might have trouble refusing substances when offered. For an individual who does not have strong communication skills, refusing a substance might put them in a difficult position. They could want to avoid an awkward confrontation or simply just not know how to express themselves.
For any person in recovery communicating well is important to long-lasting success. Rehabilitation programs understand the importance of strong communication. A well-rounded program will work to teach an individual these skills to help them thrive long after treatment.
Communication Skills Training
Teaching communication skills is also teaching a person social skills. Social skills seem like a natural part of life, but some struggle with them. Whether a person leads a more reclusive life or the influence of anxiety has prevented them from being social, social skills take more work than one thinks. An important part of social skills is strong communication.
Some may underestimate the importance of being able to communicate well. Communicating one’s wants or needs can help a person set and identify boundaries. These boundaries might regard the use of substances around them or other behaviors they may deem as inappropriate.
While it seems simple enough to tell another person their boundaries, human interaction can be so unpredictable it could prevent a person from speaking their mind. If a person is fearful of confrontation or a negative reaction it would prevent effective communication. In turn, if a person does try to communicate their boundaries, wants, or needs, but does so in a manner that may come off as rude or offensive this could present its own set of complications.
This, and other reasons, are why many treatment programs aim to teach those in recovery how to effectively communicate. Communicating effectively doesn’t stop at expressing oneself. On the other side, a person should be able to listen, empathize, and understand why someone might react the way they did. In treatment programs, a person can expect to learn how to express themselves in a manner that is non confrontational, cool and collected, and listen effectively to the reaction.
Benefits of Communication Skills Training
While it sounds overly pessimistic the reality of the matter is treatment will not be 100 percent successful for all who go through it. This is not the thought a person wants to have when considering addiction treatment, but it is important to have a realistic idea of what will happen. There are factors outside a person’s control that can trigger a relapse, but it is important to know that this isn’t a sign of failure. Many professionals see relapse as a natural part of recovery. Recovery is a lifelong journey not a sprint to the finish.
While this idea may seem discouraging, there are many things treatment programs do to help support the success of a person’s recovery. Many believe that strong communication skills can help this. Learning how to interact with others can help avoid or manage life triggers. It can also take from the stress and anxiety that comes with meeting new people. Training social skills can help a person learn how to make chit-chat to help relax both parties.
Developing communication skills can also help a person manage a social setting in which substances may or may not be present. While those in recovery are encouraged to form connections with other sober living people, they may find it difficult to avoid all substances or people who use them forever. By learning how to effectively express themselves a person can learn how to refuse drugs or alcohol when offered.
These methods of bettering communication will teach a person keywords or phrases to help refuse substances. It will teach them effective approaches to avoiding peer pressure. In cases where a person might find themselves overwhelmed, effective communication can also help a person reach out to a support system if they are triggered.
Learning to Communicate Through Activities
Treatment centers seek to teach these skills through activities that engage patients making them easy to retain and apply to life. These activities can involve role-playing situations to give the patient an idea of applying them to real life. In these situations, the patient will learn to understand body language to gauge a situation.
The interaction with another person will also teach the patient to listen. They are encouraged to hear what the person is saying and how they are saying it. Activities will put patients in uncomfortable settings in the safety of treatment. Here they can practice how to be assertive in their needs or take the situation as slow as they need.
These activities allow a person to practice the skills until they become second nature.
Communication and Family
No matter how supportive, family can put expectations on a person. If the person feels they are not meeting those expectations, it can cause pressure. Many people struggle to effectively communicate with family for this reason. Developing social skills and communication can help a person in recovery find ways to express needs with family. They can learn how to listen to the family’s concerns and process them in terms of their recovery.
For many family members, the desire to help their person through addiction is there, but they may not have the tools to do so. If a person in recovery expands their communication skills, they can help the family do so as well. Many family members are just unsure of how to communicate with an addict. With a little help of their own, families can learn how to effectively communicate with an addict in a manner that helps everyone involved.
Communication skills can also aim to resolve problems an individual may have with communicating. Some people may struggle to connect with others while others may be prone to disagreements and anger. All of these problems can be exaggerated by substance abuse or the withdrawal of substances. Communication training can offer different plans to help a person through these complications.
Effective treatment centers will work with each patient and their needs to help identify which plans are best suited for them. While each person has their own strengths and weaknesses, a personalized plan can help use those strengths to their advantage to better their weaknesses.
An anger management training plan would help an individual learn how to communicate about upset emotions. This involves managing the tone of speaking to prevent escalation. These plans would also include managing around traumatic circumstances that might trigger an intense reaction. Most of all these plans would seek to acknowledge the anger and communicate it effectively rather than let it overwhelm either side of the conversation.
In some situations, a disagreement could be with good intentions. However, if the communication skills are not there to manage a disagreement they could escalate out of control. Training plans around disagreements would help the individual learn patience in the interaction. Some disagreements can come from refusing substances. These plans would also help a person learn refusal techniques while avoiding full-blown conflict.
Learning social connections in a general sense will help a person learn how to properly listen in all situations. It also can help how they take and manage criticism. In turn, learning how to socially connect with others helps a person develop and maintain limits in social settings. The confidence these training plans give an individual helps them in the long term when faced with triggers.
Connecting socially is also useful in the long run when an individual is seeking a community. Community is an important part of the recovery process as it gives an individual a place to turn to if extra guidance is needed. Also, outside of treatment, a community can act as a safe space for a person to turn to when they feel overwhelmed. Connecting socially could mean making bonds in group meetings or with other patients while in a treatment center.
Communication Skills and Recovery
Recovery is possible without overly strong communication skills, but for many, it can make a difference in the effectiveness of their treatment. This is why many rehabilitation centers will make communication or social skill training a key part of the treatment process.
Communication Skills Training at NuView Treatment Center
NuView Treatment Center, a rehab in West Los Angeles, provides individuals and other members of the community with a wide variety of outpatient treatment programs. Our treatment programs help individuals escape from the vicious cycle of drug or alcohol dependence. Our modern facility, highly trained physicians and masters-level clinicians, and evidence-based treatment modalities can help anyone, regardless of the severity of their substance use disorder.
Our rehab includes every level of care, including:
- Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs)
- Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs)
- Outpatient programs (OPs)
- Aftercare planning
At NuView Treatment Center, we believe in approaching addiction treatment on a whole-person basis. Compassion is emphasized above all. We never utilize a one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment. Rather, we understand that all of our clients are individuals with unique stories, underlying issues, and specific needs. Our team and staff members design individualized treatment plans for every client who walks into our facility so that they can develop the coping tools they need to stay sober and live lives that are joyful, meaningful, and drug and alcohol-free.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from a drug or alcohol problem, help is available. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.