Boredom is a common complaint among the newly sober. This is interesting because it is also a sense of boredom that leads many to begin abusing drugs or alcohol in the first place. What may have been exciting for a time was likely no longer fun once substance abuse became an issue.
The truth is that many people with a substance use disorder have forgotten how to sit still. What you perceive as boredom in addiction treatment may be something else – the discomfort with learning how to live in recovery.
Is It Boredom or Something Else?
Boredom is defined as being in a state of restlessness or apathy, which sounds uncomfortable. Scientists from York University have attempted to further define being bored as having several possible aspects:
- Being unable to engage your mind in a satisfactory way;
- Seeing the situation you are in as a problem; and
- Focusing your blame on your environment, which means that you believe a change in circumstances or scenery would eliminate your boredom.
As an addict or alcoholic, wanting to change the way you feel is par for the course. There are healthy ways to do this as opposed to using boredom as an excuse to return to dangerous or unhealthy behaviors.
The Dangers of Boredom When Treating Drug Addiction
Boredom may be a natural feeling for most people, but it can be dangerous for someone with a substance use disorder. It is not unnatural in early recovery to feel bored and despondent when you are not under the influence of chemicals or otherwise in the midst of some type of chaos.
The reason that boredom is so dangerous is that you are not accustomed to the feeling, and most addicts want to return to what is familiar. It is also important to remember that you may have started using drugs or alcohol, a long time ago, to escape these mundane feelings. The good news is that you can manage boredom in recovery without harming yourself or others.
Methods for Addressing Boredom in Addiction Treatment
You may have more spare time than you want in early recovery, which could produce some feelings of boredom. Instead of suffering, you can learn to delay gratification for some of your desires while also taking some positive steps to address boredom. Some of the things that you can do include:
- Sit with your feelings. Practice sitting with uncomfortable feelings. The more you do this, the easier it will become and those periods of boredom will lessen.
- Use positive affirmations. Remind yourself that it is just a feeling with a statement such as “this too shall pass,” or “it will get better.” It is the truth!
- Join a support group. One of the best ways to combat boredom is to join a support group. Go to 12-step meetings, meet new people, and participate in the fellowship.
- Be mindful of your thoughts. Stay mindful of your thoughts, always remembering that boredom will not harm you but returning to drugs or alcohol certainly can.
- Take charge of your recovery. Now that you are sober, you have more choices. Start setting some small goals and take steps to achieve them. Start a hobby, read a book, or take a class.
Making changes in recovery may not always be easy, but they are worth it. If you or any of your loved ones have a substance use disorder, The Recovery Village can help. Contact us now to learn about your admissions options to our comprehensive drug treatment programs.