Life Skills Training in Adolescent Substance Use & Mental Health Treatment

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Mental health and substance use disorders can completely strip individuals of their ability to function at a basic human level. At Guardian Recovery, many of our clients come to us with the desire to overcome substance use long-term, improve their mental health, and reintegrate into society as productive community members. However, depending on the mental health concern, some individuals may lack the basic skills they need in order to do so. Our Life Skills Training program was designed by our dedicated team of substance use and mental health specialists to instill teens with the skills they need in order to succeed, and covers everything from grocery shopping to healthy communication.

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What Is Life Skills Training in Adolescent Recovery?

In adolescent recovery, life skills training focuses on the development of necessary skills that can help each teen manage adversity, stress, everyday tasks, and develop adaptive coping strategies. 

The vital life skills that we teach and services that we provide include:

  • The development of healthy communication skills – Many of our teen clients lack the ability to communicate their personal needs and their emotions in healthy and productive ways. They might find it difficult to employ adaptive communication techniques – simply because they have not had ample practice, or they previously relied on chemical substances in social settings. Some teen clients have a difficult time expressing and maintaining personal boundaries, listening to others, or engaging in healthy, verbal conflict resolution. Clients learn to communicate in individual and group therapy settings, where they are able to offer and receive peer support and speak, in turn, in a safe environment.
  • Stress management through physical fitness – Comprehensive Life Skills Training programs should focus on stress relief and stress management. Most teen clients find that engaging in regular physical exercise is a wonderful way to relieve stress. We introduce our clients to a wide range of healthy physical activities, including yoga, going to the gym and exercising in nature (like swimming or going on hikes).
  • Effectively planning for the future – It can seem somewhat overwhelming to plan for the future, especially after a prolonged period of active mental health or substance use disorders. At Guardian Recovery, we help our clients plan for future success by helping them each develop a highly individualized plan for continuing care. This might mean continuing on with individual therapy, regularly meeting with a licensed psychiatrist, or discussing appropriate career options or a return to school.
  • Vocational training – Some clients come to us with their non-concerning school performances – others come to us after experiencing difficulties at school. We teach a wide range of skills that go hand-in-hand with improving school performance, learning about college and higher educational options, interviewing skills, managing school and workplace triggers, and solving conflict with co-workers or their peers.
  • Educational training and placement – Some teen clients may drop out of school once their substance use or mental health takes a turn for the worst. We help them re-enter into higher levels of education and choose subjects of study that interest them.

Life Skills Training as a Component of Holistic Treatment & Long-Term Recovery

At Guardian Recovery, we remain dedicated to a “whole person” approach to recovery, meaning that we focus on a complete restoration of physical, mental and emotional health. Our teen rehab life skills training program reflects this outlook.

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The Benefits of Life Skills Training for Young Adults in Treatment

There are many benefits that go hand-in-hand with our thorough Life Skills Training program, including:
  • The development of self-esteem and a sense of self-worth. 
  • Increasing healthy behavioral patterns, such as utilizing communication and coping techniques.
  • Avoiding relapse long-term. 
  • Developing a productive and well-structured schedule.
  • Achieving personal treatment goals.
  • Learning to regulate intense emotions. 

Structure & Organization

Learning how to be organized and structured can be a beneficial life skill. Structure and organizational life skills can aid in moderating impulsiveness and oppositional behavior in children. (1) 

Personal Responsibility & Accountability

Life skills training can aid with learning personal responsibility and accountability. Research has found that those who are accountable are more likely to take responsibility for their own thoughts, emotions, actions, attitudes, and work to improve them. (2) 

Emotional Regulation & Coping Skills

Emotional regulation skills allow teens the opportunity to identify and accept their emotions while controlling any impulsive behaviors. Coping skills are techniques that help teens manage large or distressing emotions. Research has found that skills needed to cope with and handle stressful life circumstances or adversity are fundamental aspects that can develop during adolescence. (3) 

Communication & Relationships

Healthy communication skills can help promote positive relationships. Positive parent-adolescent communication has been found to be a protective factor against mental health disorders, such as depression. (4) 

Stress Management

Chronic stress can contribute to a number of physical and mental health issues developing. (5) Research has found that teens with stress management techniques were found to have higher resiliency, and school performance, when compared to teens who did not. (6) 

Resisting Peer Pressure & Temptation

Peer-pressure can be positive or negative. Research has found that adolescents who engage in disruptive behaviors are socially rewarded by their peers. (7) Learning the skills needed to be able to resist peer pressure and temptation can aid teens in making positive choices. 

Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution techniques help adolescents solve and manage problems. Research has found that utilizing proper conflict resolution techniques can promote positive mental health. (8) 

Implementing Life Skills at Home After Treatment

Recovery is often a lifelong process and implementing life skills at home after treatment can help teens maintain their wellness overtime. Additionally, implementing life skills training at home allows teens to continue to practice these techniques, hopefully mastering them over time.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a curated list of frequently asked questions regarding Life Skills Training in adolescent substance use and mental health treatment. 

Can Life Skills Training Prevent Relapse in Teens?

Yes, research has found that the consequence of not developing healthy life skills in individuals who engage in substance use is relapsing. (9) 

What Kinds of Activities or Methods Are Used to Teach Life Skills?

At Guardian Recovery, we utilize various methods to teach life skills. These methods include: 
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  • Motivational Interviewing 
  • Experiential Therapy 
  • Holistic Therapies 

What Skills Will My Child Learn During Treatment?

During treatment adolescents learn healthy communication techniques, stress management, vocational training, educational training, how to plan for the future, and more depending on their specific treatment needs. 

How Can My Family Continue Fostering These Skills After Treatment?

Being open to implementing the skills into your family’s regular routines is an effective way to continue to foster life skills following treatment. 

Can Life Skills Training Help My Child With Co-Occurring Disorders?

Yes, life skills training can help your child if they are experiencing co-occurring disorders. Additionally, Guardian Recovery offers dual diagnosis treatment for those experiencing mental health and substance use disorders simultaneously. 

Can Life Skills Training Be Effective for All Substance Use Disorders?

Yes, research has found that life skills training is effective in helping treat substance use disorders. (10)

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Our Simple Admissions Process 

If you, or your teen, are experiencing mental health or substance use concerns, teen addiction Life Skills Training may be an effective option for your family. Life Skills Training can help adolescents develop the necessary tools needed to live a healthy life. Contact us today to speak with one of our Treatment Advisors who will help guide you through our simple admissions process. At Guardian Recovery, we offer a complimentary, initial psychological assessment to determine the presence of any mental health or substance use disorders. A free, no obligation insurance benefits check can be provided to determine which of our treatment options is covered by your health insurance plan. We understand that life can include many obstacles, which can be challenging for teens. Our Life Skills Training program works to ensure that each client can confidently get through adversity. Start your road to recovery today at Guardian Recovery. 

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10802-010-9447-5
  2. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/850952#:~:text=Accountable%20people%20are%20open%20to,to%20have%20a%20positive%20impact.
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4038902/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9140886/
  5. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/so-stressed-out-fact-sheet
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8525873/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7248572/
  8. https://japbs.com/fulltext/paper-06012019101735.pdf
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553654/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4050678/

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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