The Grand Scheme of Coping Skills and Addicts
Everyone has them. Coping skills are a part of human nature. Some people have better ways of coping with things than others. They say everyone copes with things differently, which leads people to believe that if someone is not handling something well, you merely shrug your shoulders and give them space. On the contrary, there are healthy and unhealthy coping skills. Learning how to cope with things can be a matter of life or death.
Coping skills are something you develop over time. You can learn them from your family, friends, and the general environment you are in. While each person has their unique personality, coping skills are either healthy or unhealthy and it should be addressed if someone is not coping properly to a situation. For example, when a stressful situation arises some people face it and deal with the necessary facts in order to move on, this is considered healthy coping skills. An unhealthy way of dealing with a stressful situation would be to scream, become violent, or run away from dealing with the situation.
With addiction coping skills play a huge role in recovery and even getting a loved one into treatment. Addicts are all about avoiding uncomfortable situations, so they find ways to manipulate their loved one into getting what they want. For example, let’s say you want to talk to your loved one about how much they have been drinking lately. The first thing an addict is thinking is how to stop this conversation from taking place. They will immediately get defensive and start using their unhealthy coping skills by screaming or running away. This display of behavior not only gets them out of the current conversation, but also deters you from bringing the subject back up. Thus, your loved one can continue on their destructive path without you intervening on the situation.
The problem with addicts and coping skills is that their coping skills stop developing when the addict begins abusing their choice of substance. So, if you are dealing with a 35 year old heroin addict, that started abusing heroin when they were a young teenager, that is were their coping skills stopped. You are looking at an individual who is 35 years old, but dealing with an individual that has the emotional maturity of a 13 year old.
While it will be difficult for the addict to manage these new behavioral changes when entering recovery, it will get easier over time. While in recovery, the addict will learn how to cope with stressful situations by finding an outlet like, hiking, surfing, painting, yoga, and other activities that will help them cope with stress in a healthy manner, instead of resorting back to abusing their choice of substance. By using hiking or other healthy activities as a means to control the level of stress in their lives, they will learn to cope with the situation at hand, instead of running away or resorting back to old habits.