How to Improve Problem-Solving Skills in Recovery

MastHead Outline
August 24, 2023

An important skill set emphasized in substance use counseling is re-learning how to problem solve more effectively to make the journey towards long-lasting recovery smoother. Without these valuable tools, people are more likely to struggle through treatment and have difficulty fighting relapse. Several key steps are crucial to adapting better problem-solving skills that should be exercised often and implemented when necessary.

Common Recovery Pitfalls that Require Problem-Solving

Everyone’s journey through treatment is unique, and people face various daily challenges that require fixing to ensure success. The most common barriers are:

  • Emotional dysregulation
  • Cravings
  • Relationship problems
  • Financial strife
  • Loneliness
  • Boredom
  • Stress
  • Untreated mental illness
  • Trouble adjusting to new routines

These issues aren’t exclusive to addiction recovery. Still, those early in the treatment process may have difficulty handling these matters because they previously depended on substances to help them cope. Thankfully, learning how to approach these uncomfortable circumstances, with the support and guidance of loved ones and counselors, is half the battle.

1. Identify the problem

The first basic step to taking on a problem is to identify and acknowledge all its components clearly. This can help ease some anxiety surrounding an issue, making it easier to face with a clear head. Once the problem has been identified, the urge to push it aside or procrastinate dealing with it becomes less desirable, which is vital to making changes towards a resolution. 

2. Break it down into smaller parts

When a problem feels overwhelming because it encompasses a handful of more intricate issues, the best course of action is to break things down into smaller pieces and solve them independently. Sometimes this requires sitting down with a pen and paper and making a list or a web showing how these parts work together, which will help clarify what needs to be done first in order for the next part of the big problem to be remedied.

3. Consider the consequences

Mapping out the possible outcomes of how a problem will be solved can train the brain to think in terms of foresight and alleviate the urge to react impulsively. Solution A for a problem can potentially lead to outcomes 1, 2 or 3 in terms of desirability. This method of mapping out potential answers also allows for “backup plans” to be in place in case the first solution doesn’t go well. Not only does this exercise temper expectations more realistically, but it also helps people brace for the unexpected, giving them a boost of confidence.  

4. Seek help

There are times when a problem truly feels insurmountable, and some expert or seasoned advice is needed. Listening to other people’s stories of overcoming a similar issue can help spark ideas on approaching the matter more efficiently. Although it’s tempting to outsource problem-solving to someone who appears to be more capable, it’s important to take advice and apply it to the situation rather than seek others to take it on.

AppleGate Recovery provides life-changing medication-assisted treatment for those looking to overcome addiction. The comprehensive outpatient programs available allow people to receive specialized professional care for substance use disorder in a flexible and confidential office format that puts recovery in their hands. To learn more about these programs and how outpatient MAT works at AppleGate Recovery, fill out an online form or call a local office today and speak with knowledgeable and compassionate staff.