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How to Learn Problem Solving Skills in Addiction Recovery

Apr 20, 2022

Getting sober is only one problem to solve in addiction recovery. It may be why people who start treatment only focused on quitting drug use or drinking have trouble maintaining their sobriety. Problem solving skills are valuable tools to learn and develop during treatment. It serves far more purposes than helping you avoid a relapse. Let’s introduce some common barriers to recovery and share some benefits of learning problem solving skills during inpatient treatment to overcome them.

Some of the common problem solving barriers in recovery are denying there’s a substance use problem and looking for faults with any type of recovery program. Learning problem solving skills can be a valuable asset in getting and staying sober. Men can benefit from these skills by learning how to brainstorm solutions and reserve judgment about a potential solution until it’s tested. Experiential therapies help men struggling with substance use disorders learn effective problem solving skills while focusing on immersive physical activities, including drama therapy, art therapy, and outdoor adventures.

Common Problem Solving Barriers in Recovery

Many obstacles can interfere with your ability to start and sustain recovery. A negative attitude towards treatment is one of them. By identifying these barriers right away, you can learn how to minimize them and free yourself to accept help in your recovery journey.

1.Looking for faults with recovery

A person looking for faults with recovery might mention their own past attempts at getting sober. They might use other people’s inability to stay in recovery as an example too. Their focus is on what doesn’t work and they assume nothing will work for them.

2. Feeling a sense of self-pity

An excessive sense of unhappiness over your addiction troubles can be a barrier to staying in recovery. You might only focus on yourself and not see what you share in common with other people in recovery. You may mistakenly assume your situation is far worse than others or outside of your control.

3. Overreacting to comments or criticism

You may feel defensive when people suggest you need treatment. You may get aggressive verbally or physically. You may argue that your emotional state has nothing to do with your drinking or drug use. Stress and anxiety can accompany any conversation about the need for recovery help.

4. Denying there’s a problem

Telling yourself or others that nothing is wrong with your drinking or drug use creates a large obstacle for recovery efforts. Your sense of objectivity may disappear. You may ignore the evidence in your life, present in lost trust in relationships, inability to stay financially independent, loss of income, or health and legal consequences.

5. Seeing only one solution

Thinking of recovery as one stay in a 28-day program might be your perspective now. You don’t allow yourself to see a recovery solution as being composed of several elements. Your inability to accept other kinds of help or suggestions cuts off potential paths to sober living.

6. Ignoring mental health needs

You have tried treatment programs more than once, but believe there’s no connection to the state of your mental health. You may be aware of your depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress yet do nothing to address it. You may have unresolved trauma that affects your sleep, relationships, and anxiety levels, and blame those symptoms on other people.

The Benefits of Learning Problem Solving Skills for Men

Learning problem solving skills is essential for both recovery needs and for life, in general. The process should be simplified to help you take small steps towards a larger goal. You’ll want to start by naming the problem and being as specific as possible. If a large problem is made up of several smaller problems, take on the smaller problems one at a time.

Once you’ve isolated one problem to focus on, brainstorm to come up with a variety of possible solutions. You don’t have to do the work alone. Look to trusted friends and family members to help weigh the pros and cons of each solution.

When you’re informed about possible consequences, it’s important to decide how to solve the problem, follow through on the behavior necessary to put the decision into action, and take note of the outcome. The solution may not work as well as you imagined (or at all), but it’s still a valid attempt and something for you to learn from before trying again.

Practicing problem solving skills in addiction recovery provides numerous benefits. You learn how to approach a problem from different dimensions. You think about how large the problem is and how it might look to an outside observer. You imagine how life will look once the problem is solved.

Learning problem solving skills encourages people to remain open-minded to all potential solutions. You’ll get in the habit of letting ideas flow before immediately eliminating them. You may discover an idea evolves over time or gets combined with another idea to produce the solution you need.

Examining the potential outcomes of each solution is a useful way to assess positive or negative consequences before you make a decision. This helps you measure your choices differently. You can even begin to look at the probability of success from a specific solution.

Experiential Therapies Should Include Problem Solving Skills

Experiential therapy is an immersive approach to treatment for addiction and mental health disorders. Beyond talking, a person in experiential therapy may participate in role-playing, acting out events of the past, music, poetry, arts and crafts, and more. By getting their body involved in the experience, it can open aspects of their emotional and psychological states.

Experiential therapies can be a promising setting for introducing problem solving skills in addiction recovery. Consider the potential problem solving available in the form of drama therapy. A person can recreate or re-enact a past conflict while in a safe setting. Once the conflict is introduced, they can learn how their response might have been improved so a better outcome was reached.

Art therapy is another form with the potential for problem solving skills development. A person is able to identify what challenges they face with a medium. They might have little or no experience with sculpting or pottery. They may need to ask for help with a drawing technique. A shortage or lack of material might prompt them to find a way to work around the issue.

Outdoor therapy introduces a person to adventures in the wilderness and serves as an excellent context for problem solving. Learning to adapt to changing environments or endure the physical demands of being on a trail tests problem solving skills in real-time. There may even be the presence of some kind of risk along the way that they’ll want to identify and overcome.

When people are given opportunities to engage with objects and their environments, this is much more in line with how their recovery needs will appear. Experiential therapy gives them a chance to practice these critical problem solving skills while under the supervision of a therapist. What they learn about their strengths and limitations can shape how they address their recovery work indefinitely.

How to Ensure Your Addiction Center Offers Experiential Therapies that are Right for you

Experiential therapies are a valuable part of any addiction treatment program, and finding out what an addiction center offers is easy. You can call one directly and ask about experiential therapies that include problem solving skills. Also, you can evaluate what an addiction center provides based on its website content.

Experiential therapy is designed to be engaging and comes in a variety of forms. At Origins Recovery Center, you’ll see them listed as recreational therapies and include a variety of physical activities, teamwork exercises, and improvisation. The focus is on the activity itself, rather than an individual person. This therapy allows even inhibited men to feel more comfortable with the therapeutic nature of a session and free themselves to remain actively involved.

Team-oriented games can help men develop good communication skills, an asset in solving problems as a group. They can also help men learn strategies to compete effectively and handle the emotions associated with a poor outcome. In some cases, they may be able to plan ahead while other activities prompt them to come up with solutions in the moment.


Origins Recovery Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration.

We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.

For information on our programs, call us today: 866-875-1558.

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