Learning how to communicate more effectively in recovery will play a large role in your new healthy life. In fact, acquiring new communication skills is now an integral part of substance use treatment. Treatment programs now regularly include group sessions to teach individuals in early recovery new ways to express themselves.
But why are communication skills so central to a successful recovery outcome? In recovery, communicating honestly with your family members, a spouse, and close friends provides opportunities for personal growth. Effective communication allows you to share about your emotional state with others so they can offer their support. Bottom line is that being an effective communicator can act as an essential recovery tool.
3 Benefits of Communicating Effectively
Substance use disorder treatment teaches the psychosocial life skills that enhance recovery and help people avoid a relapse. One of these skills is learning how to better communicate. Substance use can thwart your ability to clearly communicate with others, and in many cases must be relearned and practiced in recovery.
Some of the benefits of effective communication in recovery include:
- Learning How to Reconnect with Loved Ones. While active in substance use, chances are you were not so easy to converse with. Substance use leads to isolating behaviors and deceptive acts that can damage even the closest relationships. Practicing effective communication involves interacting in an honest, forthright way, maintaining eye contact with the person, and being a good listener. By practicing these skills you can rebuild these core relationships.
- Developing a Sober Support Network. In recovery you will assemble a support system that might include some close family members, a sponsor, or a friend. These individuals are happy to be there for you, so learning how to communicate clearly with them is essential to their role in your life. Communicate your struggles, your worries, any possible relapse warning signs — and of course your triumphs, too — and keep these folks in your court.
- Learning How to Engage with Others. In addition to those closest to you, a healthy recovery will also involve interacting with total strangers. Part of effective communication involves being assertive, aware, and discerning in your interactions with others. Being able to distill information and recognize what is authentic and helpful versus what is dishonest or harmful can help you avoid situations that could lead to relapse.
3 Tips for Recovery Communication Success
All of us are works in progress. While we may be introduced to an array of helpful recovery tools in the treatment setting, when you get out into the world you find it is harder to actually employ them. This means that until the new coping skills become habit the recovery journey will have some bumps in the road.
Being able to express yourself in an honest and open way through healthy communication techniques will take some time. Like any other skill, it takes practice and consistent application to make a real difference in the way you communicate. Consider these 3 tips for improving your communication skills in recovery:
- Conversations are a two-way street. Healthy, productive conversations rely on the give and take between the participants. When one person dominates the conversation it stunts the whole purpose of conversing. Listen as much as you talk, and allow the other person to weigh in on the subject, too.
- Empathy goes a long way. You may enjoy a solid recovery network where people are more than happy to offer their support. Most of them have been there and know how hard it can be. People who have progressed in recovery tend to become more empathetic with time, meaning they are sensitive to the pain or needs of peers in recovery. Cultivate this trait for yourself, as it will add an extra layer of meaning to your interactions and conversations when you sincerely care about someone’s well being.
- Positive self-talk matters, too. Yes, learning how to better communicate with others is a valuable tool in recovery, but don’t ignore the way you communicate with yourself. Walking around with guilt and shame and negative self-messaging will deter your personal growth in recovery. Be kind to yourself and regularly practice positive self-talk.
Any effort you make to improve your communication skills will not be wasted. These are lifelong skills that will assist you in all aspects of life, including your recovery. So, make 2021 the year to begin practicing effective, honest, and open communication skills, and watch how this can change your life.