How a Recovering Addict Can Use Decision-Making, Life Skills, Personal Ethics, and Other Tools for Staying Sober

Sober man standing on the beach in sunshine.

Life in recovery can sometimes be difficult and challenging. But the struggles of life in general are why recovering addicts need to have the tools for staying sober.

These tools come in all different forms and types. Different treatment centers impart these tools differently. Some do a better job of it than others do. But the important thing is that any recovering addict get the tools for making better decisions in their life. They need to learn these tools and use them while in treatment. And more importantly, they need to keep using them in life after rehab.

Five tools are discussed below which every recovering addict should learn and use. Challenges are going to occur in life. They may face difficulties that could shake the addict’s stability in sobriety. Having tools to address those situations and knowing how to use those tools can make or break a person’s recovery.

Decision Making

Woman looking into a mirror.

Decision making is everything in addiction recovery. Poor decision making is what got the person into the bad situation in the first place. Good decision making is what will get them out of it and what will keep them out of it. Knowing the relative rightness and wrongness of situations and decisions of how to proceed with them will make a recovery manageable and doable.

This is why it is so important to learn about decision making while one is in a treatment center. If a recovering addict does not learn how to make better decisions in life, how to tell the consequences of his or her choices, how to steer clear from the temptation to make bad decisions, and so on, they will likely stumble in their recovery.

Narconon has a great article on decision making and the power of ethical decision making in addiction recovery.

Life Skills

Life skills are essential to any recovery process. Most treatment centers don’t make them a crucial part of their program. Life skills can involve a lot of different things. It mainly comes down to teaching recovering addicts how to handle the difficult situations of life. Before coming to rehab, drug users had been merely using drugs as a means of coping with the challenges of life. Why not teach them healthier ways to address life and give them the means to resolve and improve the conditions of their life? That is the goal of life skills.

Narconon utilizes life skills in all of our recovery programs. Click here for more information about life skills and what they can do for you or your loved one.

Continuing Education

Man learning.

I don’t know any addiction expert or recovery guru who would say that continuing education is not a valuable part of the recovery process. Even if a recovering addict is not in school or college or any continuing education environment, it is highly recommended that he or she engage in some form of continuing education. This could be life enhancement of just about any kind such as taking night courses, learning a new skill or trade, or even reading books about a subject which is of interest to them.

The goal is to stimulate the mind and get the mind and thoughts focused on new ideas, new concepts, expanded knowledge, and so on. They say that “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop.” There’s a reason for that. Pursuing continuing education, not only while in treatment but also after, is a massive boon to the recovery process.

Making Amends for Past Transgressions

Guilt is a significant factor in drug addiction. The crazy thing about addiction is that, even though an addict will go years using drugs and alcohol with no real effort to get clean, deep down inside he knows what he is doing is wrong. He wants help, and he feels terrible about the damage he’s caused others as a result of his habit.

This is why making amends for past transgressions is such an essential part of the recovery process. And this does not even have to be necessarily making amends to the exact persons or institutions that were wronged (mainly if they are not around anymore). It would be good to make amends to those one hurt during one’s time of drug use, but any effort to do good deeds in the world and to give back after so many years of taking away is laudable.

There’s a great article at about guilt and how to overcome it as a part of the recovery process.

Giving Back to the Community by Working to Prevent Drug Use

An area that I’ve always thought very favorable for a recovering addict and very conducive to ongoing sobriety is to give back by working to prevent drug use in one’s community. This specific effort ties in with the idea of making amends.

What better way to reduce drug use in one’s own community than for someone who has seen this demon face-to-face, done battle against it, and come out the other side winning, to tackle the community-wide problem? Recovering addicts are ideally suited for leading the march against drug use and alcoholism in the area where they live. They went through it. They know how to fight it. And they know how to win against it.

Another article posted at discusses how exactly to reduce drug use in a community.

Happy sober woman in a bright sunny day.

Looking to the Future with Optimism

Life in recovery has its challenges, but it has its rewards, too. We can’t tell you there won’t be some struggles. But if you follow the path of recovery correctly and do everything you can do to make the process effective, it will work.


Reviewed and Edited by Claire Pnelli ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.