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Conflict Management and Addiction Recovery

Conflict management is arguably one of the most critical dimensions of the multifaceted process of addiction treatment and recovery.

Avoiding conflict is not always possible and by knowing how to resolve it in a healthy and effective way, we open up various doors towards improvement and growth on many levels.

Conflict management - Addiction Recovery South Africa

Managing Conflict While in Recovery

Conflict can offer be a trigger which can quickly send a person who is in recovery into relapse as a means to cope with the stress that comes with conflict.

Furthermore, substance abuse is also a way to simply forget that the conflict exists, even for a short space of time.

Mismanaged or unresolved conflict can be hugely detrimental to personal and work relationships as well as the recovery process.

Conflict Management Process

Before deciding what strategy to use to resolve the conflict, we need to first identify the source of it and its type.

There are three types of conflict that we can discuss:

Personal or relational

Most commonly about self-image or identity or relationship matters such as issues with loyalty or trust, lack of respect or betrayal


Usually in the work place and is related to procedures, goals or structures

Conflicts of interest

Involves concerns related to the way in which resources are distributed such as money or time. For example, a couple might argue over the fact that one spends more time doing chores than the other

Conflict Management Strategies

There are 5 main strategies to resolve conflict.

Fight or compete

This can be considered a win/lose situation as one person who has more power “wins” and the conflict is put aside. However, this may lead to the “loser” developing feelings of resentment.


This is the most ideal as it’s a win/win situation. However, this takes a lot of input from everyone involved in order to properly work through the conflict until mutual grounds are established where everyone is happy.

Negotiation or compromise

Although this is not a win/win scenario, the outcome is usually more favourable than the win lose situation. This involves a certain degree of compromise from each party involved, however it’s often a reluctant compromise and those involved may still have feelings of resentment because they had to offer up something in order to establish a resolution.

Denial or Avoidance

In this case, everyone involved pretends that there is no conflict to resolve. It can be useful in the beginning to allow time for emotions to settle before discussion takes place. However, it’s crucial that the conflict is ultimately addressed. Denial or avoidance is not a long-term solution.

Smoothing over the problem

This is where superficial harmony is maintained while the conflict still exists on a deeper level. In most cases, one party is satisfied with the smoothing while the other remains in conflict. Once again, this can be temporarily useful but is not a long-term solution as it’s ultimately a win/lose scenario.

Conflict Management Process

When choosing collaboration as a means of conflict resolution, there are three steps that can be followed to ensure that everyone involved remains cooperative.

1. Acknowledgement

In order to resolve conflict, we must acknowledge that it exists. Once we acknowledge it, we can begin the process of addressing it with everyone involved.

2. Explore underlying concerns

Parties explore and openly discuss their underlying concerns related to the conflict. These concerns can be matters that are important to us as individuals as well as soft and hard boundaries.

3. Come to an agreement

This involves creating a plan of action which can be used to resolve the conflict while honouring all the underlying concerns of each individual. The goal is to achieve a win/win scenario and every effort must be made to do this.

Step Away Rehabilitation Centre South Africa

We understand the importance of healthy conflict resolution and management in every day life and believe that it’s an especially important skill for anyone in addiction recovery to have.

To find out about our recovery programme and how we incorporate conflict management, please feel free to contact us.

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