Coping skills are behavioral patterns that enable you to be less reactive to inevitable environmental stressors and more adept at navigating the ups and downs of day-to-day life. Unfortunately, addiction often robs us of healthy coping mechanisms, and one of the most important aspects of recovery is learning new, effective, and sustainable modes of coping.
Healthy coping skills exponentially increase our chances of long-term recovery and a more enjoyable life experience in general. Abstaining from drug and alcohol use is a necessary start, but harnessing effective coping skills is what truly makes recovery long-lasting and rewarding.
Coping skills are not required education in schooling outside of generalized sentiments like “use your words, not your hands” and the lessons of the “golden rule,” which teaches us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Unfortunately, we are not taught about our feelings, how to identify them, how to regulate them, and how to cope with them. Combining a lack of emotional intelligence with an understanding of healthy coping skills, we’re left to the best of our own devices to figure out how to manage our responses and reactions to life.
American culture often glorifies the “strong, silent type,” a belief that perpetuates negative associations with therapy, internal work, self-awareness, and reaching out for help. Though avoiding difficult feelings can be a short-term relief, it’s not a long-term solution.
How Addiction Robs Us of Coping Skills
Drug and alcohol use, as well as abuse, are examples of negative coping skills. When we are addicted to a substance, our mind is constantly consumed by the thought of using our drug of choice. The substance becomes our whole world and, as such, our primary coping mechanism to deal with the world. We forego healthy coping mechanisms during active addiction because our drug of choice offers a “quick fix” route to feeling differently and ultimately becomes the only way of coping that we know. It’s nearly impossible to develop healthy coping skills while in active addiction. When we enter recovery, we begin learning new coping skills that will support us in the long term.
The Importance of Finding New Ways of Coping
Recovery offers a chance to add valuable coping tools to our toolbox. Awareness is the first step, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps us to become more aware by teaching us to recognize our thought patterns and the ways in which they influence our behavior. This knowledge is a strong foundation for developing positive coping skills.
Attending a sober living program after treatment can further help us establish a firm foundation to build upon. In these types of programs, we can learn about the importance of attendance at regular 12-Step meetings, engaging in healthy relationships, practicing self-awareness and stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, mindfulness-based practices, and regular group and individual therapy sessions.
Recovery is a path and a process. In a sober living environment, we can work with a community of others to continue learning and growing our healthy coping skills before transitioning back to our home environments.
If you or a loved one are on a journey toward recovery and are looking for sober living options, Windhaven House provides the highest level of care and accountability available for long-term extended care/sober living. Let us help you develop the knowledge and skills to achieve your dreams and thrive in a life of long-term recovery.
We are ready to help your family begin its journey to recovery. Please call anytime at (877) 373-9898 .