Coping with Boredom in Addiction RecoveryAlyssa
Experiencing boredom in sobriety is inevitable, but it doesn’t mean you’ve made the wrong choice. Addiction and boredom go hand in hand, and for many, drug and alcohol abuse started with, “I was bored and wanted to try something new.” Considering this, it’s understandable why boredom is such a significant trigger for relapse in sobriety. When we’re bored, our minds often wander to negative thinking or things we used to do in the past, which can be dangerous for someone who’s just gotten out of a long relationship with drugs or alcohol. If you’re currently bored and sober, below are some tips on coping with boredom in addiction recovery that will help you stay on track.
How to Overcome Boredom in Addiction Recovery
It’s normal to feel bored every once in a while. We won’t always be doing something we enjoy, that’s just how life goes.
However, for someone whose life was consumed nearly every second of every day by either thought or use of drugs or alcohol, boredom can seem like a new and bleak feeling. There’s more to this than simply being entertained.
Chronic drug use constantly stimulates the brain to release chemicals called neurotransmitters that affect your mood and thoughts. So, chemicals like dopamine which the brain naturally releases when we do something pleasurable (such as eat or have sex) are forcefully activated when someone uses drugs.
After a while of this repetitive behavior, the brain becomes accustomed to being in this constant state of joy and pleasure. So, at least in the earlier stages, sobriety can seem pretty boring in comparison, and that’s normal.
With that said, it’s important to learn how to overcome boredom in recovery to prevent relapse and to find new ways to fill in those gaps that drugs and alcohol left behind. Below are some helpful tips for coping with boredom in addiction recovery that you can utilize in your day-to-day life.
Don’t Rely On Shopping
A common mistake that many recovering addicts make when they’re bored is to spend money. In a world where we can order nearly anything and have it at our doorstep at the touch of a button, this shopping can become an unhealthy obsession.
Otherwise referred to as “retail therapy”, while it’s okay to treat yourself every once in a while to that new bag or those cool shoes you’ve been saving up for, be sure to avoid buying yourself things to feel better or to give yourself something to do. The burst of pleasure you experience when you finally receive that package will be gone just as quickly as it came.
So instead of scrolling through Amazon or other online stores when you’re bored, learn how to make something. Look up DIY (do it yourself) videos to learn how to make something yourself.
This will provide you with a fun little challenge – and possibly a new hobby – that will keep you busy and entertained for a while.
Limit Your Screen Time
In addition to online shopping, because most people have electronic devices like smartphones and tablets nowadays, mindless scrolling through social media is a common antidote for boredom, but is it effective? No!
You’ll still be bored when you run out of things to look at, then what? Not only does scrolling through social media eat precious time it also encourages us to compare ourselves and our lives to others and keeps us in a constant state of wanting and consuming versus creating and giving.
Unless you’re learning something new that will contribute positively to your recovery, there’s not much to be gained from spending hours glued to a screen. We’re not saying you can’t watch TV or go on social media, but you should limit the time you spend on these platforms to make sure you focus on other important things like getting enough sleep and spending quality time with loved ones.
Entering the dating world shouldn’t be a decision you make on a whim because you’re bored, especially if you’ve been out of the game for a while and are recently sober. Dating without the intention of developing a meaningful relationship with someone who will not contribute to a relapse can lead to risky sexual encounters, sexually transmitted diseases, stress, and of course, relapse.
Also, if there’s someone you may have a romantic or even sexual history with, don’t meet up with them when you’re bored. Again, this can lead to a stressful and unhealthy relationship and poor coping skills when it comes to boredom and other factors that can ultimately end in relapse.
Don’t Hang Out with Bad Influences
It can be so tempting to call up an old buddy you used to do drugs or drink with in the past when a wave of sober boredom hits. But this is a bad idea for so many reasons, but mainly because this person is a living, breathing reminder of what you’re trying to heal from and avoid.
What’s more, if your friend is still drinking or doing drugs, they’ll most likely either do it in your presence when you hang out and encourage you to have “just one drink”. If you really want to talk to an old friend, call them or text them, but avoid spending time with people who used to contribute to your addiction.
Take Up Exercising
There are so many benefits to exercising in addiction recovery, the main ones being improved mood and stress relief. A great way to curb boredom and better your mental and physical health in addiction recovery is to exercise.
Whether you want to get into something as intense as kickboxing or simply challenge yourself to walk at least 30 minutes every day, get up and get active. Physical activity clears the mind while contributing to a healthier body.
Try a New Hobby
There’s nothing to keep you distracted and entertained like a new hobby. Whether it’s wood carving, knitting, or jewelry making, there are plenty of DIY videos out there to help you learn and craft your skills.
You can become a master at whatever you set your mind to while filling in those gaps where your mind just seems to drift. You can even make some monetary profit from your new skill by selling your work.
Learn How to Cook
Cooking goes hand in hand with preventing boredom after quitting alcohol or drugs and staying healthy. Another thing that recovering addicts tend to lean on heavily to satisfy their boredom is food.
This is normal, especially because eating is an activity that activates pleasure in the mind as drugs and alcohol do. However, too much of anything is never a good thing, and relying on food to satisfy boredom or any other negative feeling can have its consequences.
A great way to improve your physical health after substance abuse, develop a healthy relationship with food, and keep yourself entertained is to learn how to cook; it’s a triple whammy. You can spend time with your loved ones by cooking with them.
Whatever the sober activity is, consistency is key. It’s also important to keep in mind that being bored when sober is normal in addiction recovery.
There are some days where we simply don’t have the time or energy to do certain things that we enjoy, so sometimes it’s best to embrace that “boredom” and turn the opportunity into a moment of self-care and reflection. It’s okay to let yourself rest every once in a while.
Some people need relapse prevention treatment or professional support to avoid relapse and stay sober. If you or a loved one needs assistance in staying sober or needs drug treatment, our Palm Beach addiction center is here for you.
Behavioral Health of The Palm Beaches utilizes various modalities of treatment, from medical detox to holistic treatment to help patients recover physically and mentally from drug and alcohol abuse. For more information about our addiction treatment in Palm Beach and how to get started, call BHOPB today at 561-220-3981.