Dealing with Boredom in an Addiction Recovery

Those in addiction recovery will often cite that what brings them together is a common enemy—the drugs, alcohol or other numbing agents. However, managing a sober life in addiction recovery has another great enemy—boredom. 

When you reflect on your time in active addiction, rarely was that time spent feeling bored. Some drugs, such as Adderall, may be sought out specifically in order to stave off feelings of monotony. As you strip the substances from your life, often you’ll find that you’re left with very little hobbies, interests or activities to fill your days. The work of treatment—from detox to residential and beyond—will keep you occupied in those early days, but what happens afterward? Suddenly you have mass amounts of free time in your days and the task of building a new life ahead of you. 

You may be at a loss about what to do now in your life, and that makes sense. Even experiencing emotions not generated by substance use or the drama surrounding it is a new experience. But boredom is not inherently bad. It will pass as you choose to take steps to create a healthy, full and rewarding life free from the substances to which enslaved you. 

“It is not enough simply to ‘just say no.’ The person needs to develop alternative sources of joy and reward, and people who have been isolating themselves in order to drink or use drugs without inhibition may need to work in a purposeful way to re-acquire habitual ‘joy’—social interactions, physical pleasures like a swim or a bike ride, and other healthy, enjoyable rewards.” —Michael Bierer, MD, Harvard Health Publishing

How Do I Deal with Boredom in Addiction Recovery?

While the very nature of being addicted to drugs impacts your ability to appreciate the natural pleasures of life by damaging your nucleus accumbens, through addiction recovery treatment, you can still learn to build a rich and full life. 

Lack of Control

In addiction recovery, often, feelings of boredom may arise from the sense that you lack control. Suddenly overrun by appointments, instructions and explanations for the way you are feeling and why you did what you did (which may not make complete sense to you yet), you may feel your life is not your own. Situations in which you have no control lead to feelings of boredom because they lead to disconnection or more opportunities to “check out.” 

Effectively, you give up because you conclude that you cannot impact a situation, but remember, treatment is about you. It’s something you chose, and while you may think you traded a life of periodic control for a life managed by others, you didn’t. You are just currently in the planning stages. 

Lack of Excitement in Addiction Recovery

Recognize that the intent of recovery is not excitement. It’s stopping a lifelong temptation to turn a blind eye to your emotional experience and re-teaching you how to live. Experiencing what life is like without addiction when it has been your normal takes time to readjust, but you will. 

Try taking deep breaths and acknowledging that you are bored. Think about the last time you were bored—what did you do? What can you do now? 

You’ve seen these lists before, but what if you took the time to think about what you would really like to do instead of dismissing them? Do you want to learn how to cook? Take a boxing class? Other ideas include:

  • Signing up for a class
  • Exploring new areas of your city
  • Learning an instrument or a foreign language
  • Writing down new potential hobbies
  • Reading a book
  • Planning meals and preparing them
  • Joining a local sports league

Consider bringing the issue of boredom in addiction recovery up in therapy. It may be related to why you began using substances in the first place. This can lead to more insight about ways you can structure your life in recovery. Through the boredom and your most challenging emotional roller coaster, The Right Step will be here for you. Call us today at (844) 752-9947 to get connected with our recovery community or learn more about which programs might be right for you!

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