Improving Your Communication Skills After Substance Abuse Treatment
A lot will be left up to you after completing substance abuse treatment. After substance abuse treatment, you are likely no longer in the constant care of others who are ensuring that your health and well-being are being monitored. It is now your responsibility to begin to build structure in your sober life.
One of the most important factors to include in that plan to stay sober is improving your communication skills. This can help you to repair relationships strained during your substance abuse, build new relationships, and help you maintain your sobriety after substance abuse treatment.
Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills
By communicating well with others, you are going to greatly increase the longevity of your recovery. Communication skills are one of the most crucial tools needed to prevent relapse, as they will enable you to label your emotions rather than bottle them up. This practice will be beneficial in all aspects of your life if done correctly.
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Here are just some ways to improve your communications skills after substance abuse treatment:
- Listen: It sounds strange that you should practice your listening skills in order to communicate better, right? Well, learning how to listen instead of just letting the words of others go in one ear and out the other provides you with information that can help you navigate a conversation more efficiently. For example, rather than just preparing what you want to say next, allow the other person’s words and opinions help shape how you will respond and/or add to the conversation. Including their side of the conversation into yours will show respect and understanding that will further your conversation.
- Tape yourself: While it might seem a bit excessive, taping yourself to hear how you sound in conversations can be hugely beneficial. Many times, arguments come about when one person says something the wrong way, or doesn’t realize how his delivery is impacting others. In order to prevent this from occurring, try taping yourself during a conversation or a meeting to hear how you come off to others and make adjustments where necessary.
- Don’t take it personally: Not all conversations are going to be happy-go-lucky. Conversations can become serious and possibly even angry. When engaged in one of these conversations, it is important to step back and take a look at the bigger picture — meaning, don’t take the words of others personally. Understand that during a more serious conversation, things might get said in ways that they shouldn’t be. Try to address the issue at hand without getting wrapped up in the drama.
- Find compromise: Every conversation is going to be different, and many times you are going to be forced to meet in the middle. Rather than remaining bull-headed and digging your feet into the ground, find a way to compromise with the other person so both your needs get met. This skill will help you maintain promising interpersonal relationships with others because you won’t just dismiss their points of view, but rather incorporate them into the end result.
Good communication skills can be one of your best defenses against relapsing, as they will allow you to be vocal about your feelings and understanding of others. This can promote strong relationships that yield successful outcomes, increasing your opportunity for the development of a support system as well as a place to vent frustrations pertaining to your former substance abuse.
What other skills have you found useful for improving communication? Share them in the comments below.
Since 2004, Lori has worked with the behavioral health treatment community to bring awareness about mental health disorders and evidence-based treatments. Lori strives to help people better understand mental illness and provide support to those needing help and their families. As a mental health advocate, Lori works to be a voice for those suffering from substance abuse, dual diagnosis, borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, trauma, or any other disorder.