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decision making skills in early recovery

Building Decision-Making Skills in Early Recovery

Decision-Making Matters

The ability to make good choices is integral to your success in sobriety. However, most people dependent on drugs or alcohol have struggled with this particular challenge more than almost any other. That’s why we believe in building decision-making skills in early recovery. It’s a crucial part of the treatment process. Ready to get started? Here’s everything you need to know to make wise, informed choices in the future.

Gather All the Information You Need

Information-gathering is an important piece of building your decision-making skills. It prevents you from being impulsive, and it encourages you to consider all facets of a situation before committing to anything.

Allocate an appropriate amount of time to researching the different components of your choice. If you’re buying a car, for example, you’ll need to compare models for reliability, price and aesthetics. You may also want to speak with your bank or credit union about financing options before talking to anyone at the dealership.

By turning all of this data into knowledge, you’ll be better prepared to make an informed decision.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Every day, we make dozens of minor choices. When you’re not used to being decisive, it’s easy to get bogged down between two trivial options. Examples include what we’ll wear, which mug we’ll use or which route we’ll take to work. If you want to be an expert decision-maker, don’t worry about the little things. Save your energy and concentration for major life choices instead.

Your Emotions Play a Role in Your Decision-Making

While some people believe decisions should be entirely emotionless, that’s not an option for human beings. In his book Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking author Leonard Mlodinow explains that feelings and thoughts are inextricably connected. Instead of hoping to make choices without the influence of emotion, be sure to consider the effects of your mood when facing any dilemma. This awareness will strengthen your decision-making skills.

In practice, this means that you should avoid making life-altering choices when you’re grieving, in the heat of anger or upset with someone else. Instead, process those emotions, determine how they’re impacting your mood and think about how you’d like to feel when making your decision. You can also turn to your sober support network, sponsor or family for help. It’s always okay to buy yourself some time to calm down.

You Don’t Have to Decide Right This Second

Speaking of time, we hope that you’ll remember the importance of avoiding snap decisions. This impulsivity is common in active addiction and early recovery, but it’s not great for making wise choices. While some issues may require an urgent response, most challenges you face won’t be on such a strict timetable.

Note: This is especially true when someone is trying to sell you something, like a car or house. Anyone pressuring you to give them thousands of dollars right now—without taking a few hours to consider your options—should be viewed skeptically.

Get a Second Opinion

While you shouldn’t let others rule your life, there’s no harm in bouncing big decisions off of them before committing. If you’re considering moving across the country, for example, you may want to see what your parents, friends and sponsor think of this plan. Others can offer unique perspectives that contribute to your understanding of an event.

Talking to loved ones can help you:

  • Learn from their experiences,
  • Plan for potential obstacles,
  • Consider the consequences of your choice,
  • Avoid purely selfish decision-making and
  • Understand risks you may have overlooked.

It’s important to note that you should consider turning to an impartial advisor during especially difficult times. Those dealing with relationship issues may benefit from confiding in trusted friends, while people struggling with high stress levels should see therapists. Workplace advice can be found in a mentor or personal coach, and realtors can answer your questions about housing. These neutral third parties can provide you with much-needed insight and expertise.

Remember Your Values

When you are dependent on drugs and alcohol, you make a lot of choices that don’t reflect your values. Lying, stealing and violating the law often come with active addiction. Take some time to write out the values most important to your life. Do you want to be a person who is accountable? Creative? Communicative? Trustworthy? Fair?

Once you have a complete list, you can check each choice to determine how it fits in. This information also helps you to cultivate a group of close friends who share your views. The more you know about your values, the better equipped you’ll be to live a happy, harmonious life.

Improve Your Decision-Making Skills at Vista Taos

At Vista Taos, we offer comprehensive recovery programming designed to heal the whole person. Our holistic approach places special emphasis on life skills training, which includes financial literacy, nutritional awareness and decision-making skills. To learn more about our New Mexico recovery program, contact our admissions team today.

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