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A big part of drug and alcohol rehab is developing life skills while in treatment so you can better manage your life in sobriety when you get out. Believe it or not, though most rehab programs are adult-only, many of us come in to rehab without any basic life skills. Usually we have had someone taking care of us in addiction. Maybe we have never lived on our own, had to get a job, or had to cook and clean for ourselves. Some of us are a little older, and we may have these basic life skills down, but we may need to learn how to deal with other people and everyday stress without the use of drugs and alcohol.

Developing Life Skills at Rehab: Personal Life Skills

A big part of developing life skills at rehab are just basic things that adults need to do to survive. Many treatment centers have their clients cook their own meals. Clients get a set amount of money every week to use at the grocery store and they must plan ahead for meals and snacks. Sounds pretty basic, but sometimes clients have never had to budget money or plan for meals, let alone cook for themselves.

Another part of developing life skills at rehab is keeping your residence clean and doing your own laundry. Even if the rehab you’re at provides meals for clients, most expect you to keep your room and common areas clean and do your own laundry. When I was in treatment, there were two women in my house who had never done their own laundry. One always had hers sent out, the other was very young, and her mother had always done it for her. We had inspections every morning to make sure our apartments were in good order.

Developing Life Skills at Rehab: Relational Life Skills

Usually part of developing life skills at rehab includes learning how to handle stressful situations, multiple priorities and engage in appropriate relationships with other residents and with staff. At rehab, you usually share a living space with one or more other people. You may have to get along with people you wouldn’t normally interact with. Part of developing life skills is cooperating with others and having appropriate relationships with other people.

Some core relational life skills that you will develop at rehab include:

  • Time Management – Usually you will be responsible for waking up and getting ready on time, as well as being on time for important appointments.
  • Stress and Anger Management – There’s usually group or individual therapy sessions based specifically on these issues.
  • Active Listening – Rehab teaches clients how to be engaged and actively listen to others.
  • Emotional Regulation- At rehab, you will learn to regulate your emotions and not react immediately in anger or with violence.
  • Team Work – You must get along with other clients and staff on a daily basis.
  • Self Esteem– This is usually a skill that most people are lacking in when they come to rehab. Developing life skills includes learning to value yourself and respect your body.

Other relational life skills include:

  • Conflict Resolution
  • Assertiveness
  • Decision Making
  • Problem Solving
  • Critical Thinking

If you or someone you know needs drug or alcohol treatment, call us at 800-951-6135 or visit us online at

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Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Additional calls will also be forwarded and returned by a quality treatment center within the USA.

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