Recovering from an addiction is so much more than simply walking away from a substance that takes control over a person's entire life. Addiction influences so many aspects of a person's habits, personality, psychological state and ability to function.
One of the major factors that can be a problem in people dealing with addiction is communication. Whether they had issues with it to begin with or their substance abuse affected their ability to relate well with others, most people with addictions struggle with their communication skills.
Recovery programs can help addicts learn more effective tools to communicate with others so that they are able to work through problems and enjoy a better quality of life. Learning to communicate effectively is one of the key steps in recovery that every person must go through to maintain their sobriety.
Steps to Improving Communication
One of the foundations of communication is genuine listening while understanding and focusing on the other person. While a person is addicted they can be more self-involved and wrapped up in their world of substance abuse making it harder to connect with people.
By learning to be a better listener, a person can hear information more accurately and understand the real message of what someone is saying to them. They can also show more compassion and concern for others which is an important way to start building a closer relationship.
A good communicator will ask follow up questions or repeat what they have heard to make sure that they understand everything that is said to them. This is another way to show that you are genuinely listening to what the person is saying and it helps ensure that each person is engaged in the conversation. Listening to people more closely can be a healthier way to communicate with others.
Honesty in Recovery
The most crucial aspect of communication for people with addictions is being more truthful, honest and open when they speak to others. Lying, making excuses, or covering up is a negative habit that many addicts develop because they do not want people to know the full extent of their substance abuse.
Being more honest and vulnerable to people can open up more doors of communication because you are not trying to create an image of what you want others to see. Avoiding the truth keeps people at a distance and can prevent someone from really connecting with others on a deeper, more meaningful level.
Being dishonest can also cause major problems in relationships, making it hard for people to build a level of trust. Recovery is a chance to repair broken relationships by practicing the kind of honesty and openness that will give people more faith in you.
Communication is also about organizing ideas in your mind and thinking before you speak about how your words can affect someone else. Learning communication skills can serve to prevent the kind of heated arguments that end friendships and prolong problems between two people.
Being calm and communicating without being accusatory or aggressive is an important skill for everyone to learn. In recovery, people can learn to use more "I" statements and to speak about their feelings so that they are not focusing on the other person's mistakes during a conflict.
Keeping the focus on how each person feels and avoiding negative body language can help to resolve arguments rather than letting them escalate. These types of communication skills can help people in recovery to create closer connections which will help them in their long-term sobriety.
Instead of pushing people away through poor communication, former addicts can use the skills they learn in treatment to develop and repair valuable relationships.