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Why Boredom Is Your Enemy in Addiction Recovery


March 8, 2018
Everyone tells you that addiction recovery is hard work, but no one tells you that there are times when it can be seriously boring. Think of everything you go through to complete detox, work your way through rehab, develop an aftercare plan, and then return to your life. Suddenly your days are not nearly as planned out, and you may be at a loss as to what to do. The truth is, the fact that your former life revolved around substance use means that you have to build a new life that does not. When you are figuring out how to build that new life, boredom can be a problem.

Boredom Is Actually Necessary and Good

In fact, boredom during early recovery can be considered an essential part of the addiction recovery process. Things may have decelerated quickly since you completed rehab and returned home, and sometimes even the satisfaction of everything you have accomplished in achieving sobriety simply is not enough. You are probably not used to experiencing emotions that have not been generated either by substance use or by the drama that surrounds it. But that kind of excitement is synthetic and hollow. You have to learn how to build richness and fullness into your life that is based on a healthy approach, and that takes time and perhaps a certain degree of trial and error.

The Perfectly Valid Reason You Are Bored

Stop and think about the amount of sheer time that goes into sustaining an addictive lifestyle. When every day revolves around obtaining and using a substance, and perhaps doing what you can to financially support that addiction, there is not much in the way of sitting around and doing nothing. Face it: many of the people you regularly encounter in an addiction-centered life are just as much drama addicts as they are substance addicts. When you complete detox and rehab, all of that goes away – as it should! It may feel like you are in a time vacuum, with nothing to fill up all those hours that substance-chasing and use filled before you were in recovery.

Building a New Purpose and Identity

Addiction recovery Addiction recovery is, in many ways, like rebuilding an entire life, and there will be times when you do not know what to do and become bored. That is fine. In fact, it is a pretty good sign that you are ready to take some rebuilding steps. Here are some tactical tips for coping with boredom in constructive and healthy ways while you build and shape your new life:
  • Sign up for a class
  • Create a daily schedule
  • Take a walk
  • Write down hobbies you may be interested in
  • Read a book
  • Plan meals and prepare them
  • Join a local sports league
  • Go to a meeting or continue working your steps

Beware of Replacing Old Unhealthy Behaviors with New Unhealthy Ones

If you worry that you tend to seek out activities solely for the adrenaline rush (the same rush you may have chased when you were abusing substances), perhaps you should talk it over with your sponsor, counselor, or another mental health provider. Though relatively rare, throwing oneself into an activity (particularly a challenging physical activity like extreme sports or excessive exercising) can end up being a replacement for the addiction and can impede your achieving the balance you need to have a full and rewarding life. Boredom will not kill you, but the substances you are in recovery from will. Addiction recovery is many things, and sometimes it can be dull. That is perfectly okay. Boredom will pass, and during each day of addiction recovery, you are taking steps to create a healthy, full, and rewarding life free from the substances to which you were enslaved. There are plenty of healthy ways to cope with boredom, and sometimes they can lead to longer-term solutions. Think of spells of boredom as an expected component of addiction recovery and be patient. After all, there is a new life under construction! If you have questions about addiction recovery, we invite you to contact us today.
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