Developing Independent Living Skills When You’ve Been Out of Practice

Developing Independent Living Skills When You've Been Out of Practice | Transcend Recovery Community

Mark was severely depressed with an alcohol addiction and living on the streets ten years ago. He was stealing and was being stolen from. He was committing crimes in order to survive and often getting caught, and going in and out of jail. Finally, one day he approached a homeless shelter. He knew that he could shower there, get food, and at least get some rest on the couch. Whenever Mark was at the shelter, he felt his deep fatigue of living the life he was living, but he had no other options in his mind. He didn’t think it could get any better.

However, one day when he was at the shelter, he also began to receive services from a local social service agency. He began to meet with a counselor once per week and he started to talk with the shelter staff. Eventually, the staff found a way to get Mark on disability for his depression and addiction, giving Mark an income. Sometime later, the staff also found him a temporary housing situation so that he no longer had to live on the streets.

Today, Mark is living in a board and care facility, still struggling with depression, but he is sober and off the streets. He has been succeeding so well in his recovery that he has begun to wonder about how to get a job and move into his own apartment. However, Mark is going to need to learn some independent living skills in order to achieve these two goals. For instance, he’s going to need to learn how to:

  • Manage his money
  • Create a budget
  • Create a resume
  • Participate in a job interview
  • Cook for himself
  • Shop for himself
  • Do the laundry
  • Manage his time
  • Clean his own home
  • Take the bus around town

If you are like the many men and women in this country who are making their way back up after being down, then perhaps you also need to learn some independent living skills. These are necessary skills to living on your own, without the support of professional assistance. According to the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living (MCIL), “independent living skills are those skills necessary to live as independently as possible.” MCIL also points out that these skills may be related to social/recreational activities such as knowing how to use your leisure time in a meaningful way or knowing where to find social activities and resources that are fulfilling.

In many ways, developing these skills are a crucial part of the addiction recovery process. For some, they might be learning independent living skills for the first time. For others, they might have known and relied upon these skills but lost them because of an addiction.

It’s common for an addiction to slowly eat away at the life you have. You might have been living with your spouse, working a full time job, and raising a family. Slowly, over time, an addiction can take all that away from you to the point where you end up living on the streets. With enough time on the streets, you might lose necessary skills for functioning in society, skills that are necessary to live on your own.

You might not ever need help in recovering your independent living skills. They might naturally come back to you. However, sometimes starting over after a difficult addiction can be incredibly challenging. Having support for the small but necessary tasks in life might be needed. If you need support for developing independent living skills, you can do one of following:

  • Contact a mental health professional.
  • Contact a social service agency that provides lessons in these skills.
  • Search online for tips on how to develop these skills.
  • Borrow a book from the library that provides step by step instruction for these skills.

These skills are easy to learn if you need to incorporate them into your life.


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