Sober Living by the Sea's Extended Care Program Introduces a Life Skills Series for Men and Women in Early Recovery

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An educational and experiential life skills series at Sober Living by the Sea’s extended care program helps people in early recovery learn budgeting, meal planning, stress management and related skills as they begin to reintegrate into the community.

We care about what’s happening in our patients’ lives today, but also what will happen when they leave treatment.

Getting sober is just the first step in addiction recovery. Long-term success also requires learning new life skills that reinforce an individual’s ability to stay sober in the face of daily stressors.

“By the time individuals come to us, they are usually malnourished physically, emotionally and spiritually,” said Kristine Emry, LCSW, the director of clinical services at Sober Living by the Sea’s network of addiction treatment centers. “The goal of our extended care program is to help our patients become whole again and start to reintegrate into daily life.”

When a person becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, their life skills, maturity, and ability to cope with stress and responsibility often come to a hault. As a result, they may have gaps in their knowledge of fundamental life skills, such as how to get a job, sort laundry and find their way around the kitchen, which must be filled in order to achieve lasting recovery.

“Recovery will always be a part of our patients’ lives, and soon they will rejoin the broader community,” said Emry. “We’re teaching them how to be productive members of that community by learning skills that strengthen their sobriety.”

As part of its social recovery model, Sober Living by the Sea has always offered an unparalleled range of social opportunities and sober activities, such as surfing, sailing, team sports, and visits to local amusement parks and museums. These activities help combat boredom and introduce people in recovery to hobbies and pastimes that excite them, without the need for drugs or alcohol.

To supplement these offerings, Sober Living by the Sea recently introduced a life skills series that focuses on budgeting, meal planning, stress management and related skills. Since January, Sober Living has added 13 new groups to the schedule, including interactive lectures and activities that make learning fun. For example, residents learn money skills by playing board games and mindfulness skills by practicing yoga and doing art therapy.

“We care about what’s happening in our patients’ lives today, but also what will happen when they leave treatment,” said Emry. “The richness of therapeutic offerings in our extended care program will help address our clients’ need for practical life skills.”

Residents in the extended care program live in an apartment-style setting, where they cook, clean and take care of themselves, while receiving ongoing substance abuse treatment. They go on supervised grocery shopping trips each week to learn how to read food labels and plan meals. On Sundays, residents go to the computer lab to personalize their own budgeting plan using Mint.com, a free resource that provides feedback on spending habits.

In addition to educational sessions about recovery, relapse and the 12-Step culture, Emry invites outside experts to speak to residents on various recovery topics. Patients attend 12-Step meetings in the community and meet with a licensed dietician to discuss myths, facts and fears around food. They also cook meals with oversight from their house parent.

The addition residents have been most excited about is family dinners, noted Emry. They sit down at the dinner table without cell phones or laptops for a homemade meal and the company of others in recovery. For some patients, this is the first time they’ve eaten this way since they became addicted to drugs or alcohol.

“Family dinners are a great way for people in early recovery to form bonds and find healthy ways to relate to each other,” said Emry. “It’s also an opportunity to reflect on where addiction has taken them and what they missed out on in terms of the family experience.”

As residents at Sober Living by the Sea’s extended care program progress in their recovery, the life skills series grows with them. While the initial focus is on basic independent living skills, the long-term goal is to help residents learn more complex skills such as investing, resume-building, applying for jobs and finding their own apartment.

“What our patients like most about the life skills series is that it teaches them about more than following rules,” said Emry. “It teaches them how to connect with people and actually begin to live better.”

About Sober Living by the Sea

Sober Living by the Sea is one of the largest residential substance abuse treatment programs in the United States. Listed by Forbes.com among the Top 10 Luxury Rehab Centers, Sober Living has provided premier treatment for alcoholism, drug addiction and eating disorders in beautiful Newport Beach, California, for more than 24 years.

Sober Living by the Sea is a proud member of CRC Health Group, which offers the most comprehensive network of specialized behavioral healthcare services in the nation. With the largest array of personalized treatment options, individuals, families and professionals can choose the most appropriate setting for their behavioral, addiction, weight management and therapeutic education needs. CRC Health Group is deeply committed to making its services widely and easily available to those in need, while maintaining a passion for delivering the most advanced treatment available.

For more information, please call (866) 515-5253 or visit Sober Living by the Sea.

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Kristen Hayes
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