Like all education, life skills training can change someone’s path by changing the way they see their path. This is never truer than when it is part of a program offered to individuals at-risk for addictive or risky behaviors. Basic life skills training provides an individual with the confidence needed to take on life challenges, reducing stress and worry that can lead to risky behaviors.
Often individuals from backgrounds of addiction lack essential fundamentals that allow for good decision making, so they benefit greatly from programs that offer basic life skills in order to cope with day-to-day problems that could otherwise push them further into addictive behavior. For some, a relapse to addictive behavior is triggered by everyday stressors, such as unemployment, financial hardship, homelessness, difficult relationships, or just the daily routine. This is where fundamental life skills training is critical, as it prepares individuals to handle these factors, thereby reducing the associated stress.
For example, learning how to manage money is necessary to pay bills and save for emergencies that can happen to anyone. However, without a financial safety net, many could find themselves in deep debt or facing foreclosure and eviction. A simple mechanical breakdown of a car could lead to serious financial implications, such as losing a job and ending up homeless.
For individuals returning to the community after incarceration, the need for prevention education and life skills training is critical, since they often lack a support structure. They are often ostracized from family and find it difficult to obtain employment. In many cases it may have been the lack of education and critical life skills that led to their incarceration in the first place. The inability of these individuals to become self-sufficient often leads to a renewed pattern of addiction and recidivism of criminal activity.
Life skills training should be included in any overall health education program, and it should be integrated into support structures offered within the community, linking students to needed counseling, mentoring, health agencies, and school.
Subjects covered in a general life skills program could include: nutrition, HIV prevention, financial management, relationships, decision making, coping with stress, and other related topics. Varying types of life skills programs are already in existence, such as those that focus on preventing drug use or on individual skills that build self-esteem and self-sufficiency.
A good life skills program will provide information in multiple formats that targets the learning style of the student. It should contain repetition and redundancy in order to be effectively retained in long-term memory and promote application to everyday life. The student should have access to the information so lessons can be reviewed repetitively, maximizing retention.
Some skills sets are best presented in a hands-on group setting: however, with limited classroom time available, allowing students to take basic courses online is a more efficient allocation of resources. This frees up instructors to focus on more critical skills, problem resolution, and mentoring. For students who have jobs, online training allows them to take courses at their own pace from home while students who have children and cannot afford daycare or transportation costs will find online training much more cost effective. With online training, individuals can select lessons they need the most à la carte, creating a unique learning plan for each student. Online lessons combined with group training provide the best solution to enhance student learning achievement.
Each person recovering from drug abuse has unique needs. It is difficult for agencies and non-profit organizations to customize a learning solution for each individual; but, online training provides the capability of mass customization.