When a person relies on alcohol or drugs to get through each day, life isn’t pleasant but it might be pretty simple. For many addicted people, managing life boils down to having a supply of the drug he (or she) has come to depend on. It’s the first thing on his mind when his eyes open for the day and he’s always going to know if he has enough on hand to last until more can be obtained. In this lifestyle, life skills take a back seat to the more urgent demands for the drug of choice.
That’s one of the attractions of drug abuse: one’s problems seem to melt away. Therefore, life skills lose their usefulness. It’s not necessary to critically analyze problems. Self-awareness takes a back seat to getting high or drunk. Communication skills narrow down to manipulating those around you to protect your habit. Coping with emotions or stress can be accomplished with the numbing effects of drugs.
These life skills and a few others were the subject of a comprehensive report from the World Health Organization (WHO) on the advancement of life skills education. According to this report, improved education in life skills could result in lower rates of child abuse, drug or alcohol abuse, violence and unwanted pregnancies among the young.
This WHO committee described the following life skills as essential:
- Decision-making and problem-solving
- Creative thinking and critical thinking
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Self-awareness and empathy
- Coping with emotions or stress
While the Narconon drug rehab program was founded in 1966 and the WHO document was published in 1998, they have much in common – both emphasize the development of life skills as an essential component of a safe, sober, rewarding, productive life.
Preventing Relapses through Strengthened Life Skills
A significant portion of the Narconon drug rehabilitation program focuses on each client gaining an understanding of and ability to exercise these and other life skills. As these individual life skills grow stronger, they aggregate into the ability to maintain a drug-free life.
If a rehab program is too brief to cultivate life skills like these, even a person who desperately wants to remain sober may fail.
How does the Narconon program develop these skills during the recovery program? The Narconon program has been standardized into educational videos and training manuals. First, each person receives an education on the fundamentals of these life skills vital to sobriety and then those skills are practiced until they have been used to improve his current life. Every point of the WHO’s list is encompassed in this rehabilitation program.
For example, one of the life skills courses included in the Narconon program is the Personal Values and Integrity Course. On this course, each person learns how integrity is lost and how it can be regained. She also gains an understanding of the different parts of her life and how they interact. Through this education, she gains a greater empathy for others and awareness of her own role in enhancing or damaging these parts of her own life. Through practical application of the skills learned on this course, each person achieves relief from past pain and guilt over harm done to herself and others.
One person who completed this course at Narconon described the changes he went through like this: “The Personal Values and Integrity Course was instrumental for me. One of the things that kept me using drugs so much was that I was doing these bad things and I had no way to rectify what I was doing. I was living this criminal lifestyle and I felt bad and I was guilty. Doing the Personal Values and Integrity Course taught me about responsibility and gave me a way to right my wrongs and really take responsibility for myself at the end in a way that really worked. And afterwards, it was like I weighed a pound. I mean, I felt so light.”
That Connection Again
Sobriety requires knowing how to correct situations, how to face adversity, how to deal with other people’s communication and emotions, even when they are unpleasant. Without a boost in these and other skills before one returns to day-to-day life, it’s so easy for problems and challenges to knock one to one’s knees. And from that vantage point, it may look like more drugs or a few drinks would be the easiest solution to make the problems go away.
The whole Narconon program averages eight to ten weeks in length, although some people will need more time to work through these lessons. The whole point of this program is to enable each person to recover his (or her) own self-awareness and innate ability, and to develop the life skills that will keep him safe thereafter.
If you care for someone who has lost life skills during addiction and keeps slipping back into old destructive habits, call Narconon today to learn more.