Social skills are essential for any person. The ability to interact with others and do so confidently can be key to leading a successful life. Proper social skills can help a person make connections within relationships, help them get a job, and even help them manage difficult situations. This also applies to any person under social pressure.
For many who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction, the lack of social skills can feed that addiction. Whether it is the inability to refuse a substance or social anxiety that pushes them to use it to feel relaxed in a social setting, a lack of social skills can cause considerable difficulties. The lack of social skills can only hurt an addict’s chances of recovery.
However, not all hope is lost. Learning social skills is far easier than one may think. No matter the age or situation it is never too late for a person to improve their social skills. For many in a recovery program, they may find that social skills are among one of the many important therapies they partake in. Social skills for an addict go past simply managing social anxiety, but also building the confidence needed to help prevent a relapse.
Social Skills in Early Development
Social skills do not come naturally for people. They are learned in early development through interactions with parents, teachers, and peers. Children need to learn these skills early as it can help them learn how to interact with others and build bonds later in life. Having well-developed social skills also sets a person up for success in other fields of life such as future careers, relationships, and any interpersonal situation. These skills help people manage difficult situations in life and generally make life easier when properly developed.
However, there are cases where social skills are severely underdeveloped. Whether it is relating to early childhood through abuse or neglect. There is the possibility a child did not have a chance to develop their skills well enough to interact socially. This could cause a child to later have anxiety or stress when faced with a social situation. Since social situations are unavoidable, this might cause the child, now an adult, to seek out means of coping with that stress or anxiety.
In some situations, a child might have developed perfectly fine social skills, but through trauma, they can be damaged, so to speak. Trauma, PTSD, or a developed mental health condition could prevent a person from interacting socially. If a person faces severe abuse or trauma, they might find themselves fearful to interact with any person they meet. Since social interaction is not avoidable, a person with trauma could use substances as a way to manage social situations when needed.
Effective treatment programs and therapies will help a person with trauma, along with underdeveloped social skills, learn how to interact socially. They can work to build up their confidence in social settings and their communication skills. If these skills were neglected in early development, a client of a treatment center would greatly benefit from this sort of social skills training.
The Importance of Social Skills
Social skills training is closely related to behavior therapies in which the goal is to change how a person responds to something. For a person in recovery, it is important to understand that avoiding substances may be impossible. To never interact with substances or people who use them an individual would have to become completely reclusive, but also cut out all forms of media and entertainment. Not only does this idea seem impossible, but that is not a healthy way to live. People are social beings and social interaction is important. The better solution is simply to learn how to manage social settings with confidence.
Furthermore, outside of addiction well-developed social skills can help a person build a community of support. Everyone needs a community, whether it consists of friends or family members. Being able to build up bonds and relationships can be heavily dependent on social skills. For an addict, having a community is just as important or even more so as it can be the one thing that keeps a person from relapsing. Community offers a place for any person to go when feeling overwhelmed, alone, or just in need of extra support. To help build a community, well-developed social skills are beneficial.
In a recovery program, social skills training will teach an addict how to relate to others in several different settings. They will learn two-way communication, empathy, and how to read nonverbal language to understand deeply what another person is saying. More than this, social skills can help a person be assertive in situations where they might find pressure.
Developing social skills can help prevent social anxiety and a possible relapse for a person in recovery. As well as give them the tools to confidently refuse substances while not destroying relationships.
Social Skills and Addiction
Struggling to communicate can leave a person feeling frustrated and anxious. It can be far more frustrating when trying to communicate boundaries when faced with situations that might compromise their sobriety. For a person with social anxiety, these situations may be difficult to manage in general. They can cause a person to seek out substances to lessen the tension of the situation. Alcohol has developed a reputation for helping people cope in uncomfortable or difficult situations.
The trouble comes when a person relies on substances, such as alcohol, to function through social situations. Once they lose their buzz they may continue drinking to keep it or become solely dependent on substances to function socially.
With properly developed social skills through social skill training, a person can learn how to comfortably interact in social settings without the need for substances. More so, these developed skills can help a person set boundaries and express their needs with family and friends when it comes to their recovery.
Being assertive in their boundaries is also an important part of a recovery process as many people who do not suffer from addiction will lack understanding. Without going through addiction or recovery, a family member or friend may not understand the struggle of refusing substances or even being around them. This could cause them to put a recovering addict in an uncomfortable situation unintentionally. Being assertive and confident in skills can help individuals set boundaries and teach their support system how best to interact with them.
What to Expect from Social Skills Training
In a recovery program, a client can expect to partake in social skills training to learn how to effectively navigate social situations. These skills can range from learning how to maintain eye contact when having conversations or managing small talk without anxiety. The goal is to learn these small skills to help prevent any triggers that might cause relapses in recovery.
Some bigger skills recovery programs focus on are refusal skills. These skills help a client get comfortable with refusing a drink or substance by teaching which no phrases to use, strategies to deal with peer pressure, practicing saying “no”, and asking for help when saying “no”.
These skills are best learned in group settings. While a client can seek to learn social skills from individual therapies, a group setting allows a client to role-play a situation. This can help them feel comfortable when a real situation arises. Also, this interaction encourages a client to put social skills into practice in a safe environment where everyone is in a similar place. Group therapies allow clients to form a community within recovery. Practicing these skills can not only act as a bonding experience for them but also encourage others by their example.
Modeling their behavior after others can be comforting for a person overwhelmed by the whole idea of social interactions. This can also help them understand what areas they struggle with and where they can improve.
Social Skills and Recovery
Well-developed social skills reflect on a person. They can help a person feel more confident in themselves through positive interactions with others. When anxiety or tension regarding relapsing is no longer a concern, a person can find that social situations may even aid their recovery as it can take attention from substance use.
Generally, having a better sense of well-being and happiness will aid a person in successful recovery as they can see the positive results from their hard work. Positive living and environments make people less likely to seek out drugs or alcohol to cope.
Training a client on how to react in a social situation can help them avoid potential relapse. It can also help them function in situations with the rest of the world and keep them from feeling as though they must exist separately. A successful recovery allows a person to be part of everyday life while being strong enough to withstand triggers. If a person does not feel they are there yet, they can use their newly found social skills to express their concerns with those around them. In any case, these social skills help set up a long line of success for clients. Therefore they are an important aspect of any treatment plan.
Social 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.