Communication is a vital component to problem-solving, especially when trying to solve the problem of addiction in individuals. When addicts quit communicating with others, it becomes hard to articulate the causes of their addiction, try to get addiction help from medical professionals, or even have healthy relationships with family members. Without these things, coming up with a plan for recovery is nearly impossible. Effective communication in recovery is a necessary part of the process.
The founder of Choices Recovery, Per Wickstrom, stated this about communication when he was addicted to drugs: “I had a difficult time managing jobs, life, work, and relationships; I quit communicating with my family.” This is very common for addicts as they feel that they can’t relate to sober people in the way that they can relate to others in their unhealthy relationships.
Steps to Communication in Recovery
We can see that communication is key for a successful recovery, but how can we learn to do it effectively?
Be honest (with yourself and other people). Being honest about your situation with yourself as well as others is vital to open communication in recovery. How are you supposed to become sober if you are hiding or lying about important pieces of information? Being honest is the best way to be open with your loved ones and get the best help with your recovery.
Learn positive self-talk. Avoid negativity when talking to others; try to use positive communication as much as possible while also being honest about the situation. When you speak to yourself like you love yourself, your situation may change for the better faster and more easily. Don’t get down on yourself for your choices; accept your situation and use it to move on for the better. Realize that the past is the past, and you can become a better person if you try to do so.
Be assertive. Don’t confuse this with becoming angry and impatient. Being assertive means having the confidence to say what you need to say. Make eye contact and get your point across by speaking in a polite way.
Recognize the importance of empathy. Empathy means to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and to try to experience what they are feeling. When you are talking to someone about your addiction, try to imagine what is going on in their head. Hopefully, they will also be empathetic with you as well. Empathy encourages people to be nonjudgmental so that you can reach a conclusion quickly and effectively.
Learn to listen. Listening is an important aspect of open communication. Paraphrase what the other person is saying and repeat it back to them so they know you understand the message. Listening is the first part of understanding, and understanding is key. When you understand what is going on in its entirety, you can choose the best treatment options for the individual.
What Hinders Communication in Recovery?
What makes effective communication in recovery more difficult?
- Shame – wishing the situation never happened
- Low self-esteem – feelings of unworthiness
- Not being honest – triggers lying and miscommunication
- Guilt – feeling bad about what happened
- Becoming aggressive – becoming angry when speaking
Try to overcome these feelings for a successful conversation. Remember that the other person cares about you and wants to see you succeed. Be open and honest when talking to the other person so that there is no miscommunication present.
Communication in recovery is essential for the addict’s overall well-being. Learning new communication techniques while recovering from substance abuse is the first step to your new way of life. It affects the way you interact with others in a positive way.