We all know that to do well, or even excel in life, we need a variety of skills; from simply learning to communicate with ours peers, to being able to read and write. Or at the other extreme – an in depth knowledge of quantum physics – a skill I most certainly don’t have!

We all need skills for life

But for addicts whose ‘using’ and addictive behavioural patterns began before these skills developed – their long-term recovery is threatened, despite their abstinence. It’s well documented that teen drug/alcohol use arrests development. There’s even research that suggests that alcohol use prior to the full development of the frontal lobe (approx. 19yrs) can seriously affect the brain’s ability to work to maximum effect.

We regularly admit clients to Western Counselling who have very limited social functioning. They have no comprehension of how to socialise without the use of drugs and/or alcohol and hold a belief that they need the drugs and/or alcohol to be likeable. They often have zero work experience because their ‘using’ was funded through the misguided generosity of their family or DWP Benefits.

We believe the purpose and mission of our centre is not only to get clients ‘clean’, but also to give them the tools and skills they will need to become functioning members of the community when they leave us. We aim to give each individual the best chance of success after treatment.

Developing life skills through workshops and study groups

We do this by treating addiction through our 12Step programme and by treating individuals holistically, exploring every aspect of their life, beliefs, and family. We believe this is crucial to a recovery that is all encompassing and long lasting. Through our programme of Life Skills workshops in Primary and Secondary treatment clients have an opportunity to improve literacy, numeracy, learn cookery, basic home economics and money management. And through volunteering opportunities they learn transferable life skills and build their self-esteem.

To give our clients even more opportunity to develop life skills Western Counselling is now working in partnership with Lighthouse, a social action charity in Weston-super-Mare. Their Make a Difference Project gives our clients the opportunity to volunteer in the community to train and learn vital skills. Look out for more about this project in my next blog.

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