Avoiding Boredom during Recovery

Avoiding Boredom during Recovery

One of the foremost challenges to an addict’s recovery is the fight against boredom. It may seem silly, but this is a very real challenge to sobriety. Substance abuse fends off boredom very effectively, and one of the most common causes of relapse is that the recovering addict can’t stand to be bored. This is not a matter of personal character or maturity, but rather a function of brain chemistry and neural pathways that must be corrected over time. Finding effective ways to avoid boredom during recovery is critical to allowing enough time for the addict to heal and form new pathways and habits.

Boredom and Addiction

The pre-frontal cortex is the area of the brain that manages the following critical psychological functions:

  • Impulse control
  • Emotion management
  • Memory
  • Motivation
  • Reinforcing behaviors and forming habits
  • Focus

The brain is designed to reinforce any behavior that it finds rewarding or pleasurable. In healthy individuals, this bio-chemical phenomenon motivates people to exercise, to eat well, to do well in school, to work hard and to serve others.  Drugs and alcohol super-stimulate this system with an extreme level of “feel-good” chemicals that give the user a euphoric high that is far more powerful than the natural “buzz” that comes from healthy behaviors. The brain recognizes this feeling and builds neural pathways – the superhighway of the behavior system – to make sure that the euphoria keeps coming.

When healthy people feel bored, they may be motivated to get some exercise or to start a project. The addict, however, feels an overwhelming urge to get high. The first days and weeks of recovery are especially challenging for the recovering addict as no amount of physical activity and no interesting project can compare to the blast of chemicals released when he or she used drugs. Thus, one of the central themes of most successful recovery programs is around the subject of understanding the urge for fun and excitement that addiction causes, preparing for the cravings and having an escape plan.

Healthy Ways to Avoid Boredom in Recovery

While no healthy activity will compare with the rush of using drugs or alcohol, the following activities can help to fend off boredom during recovery:

  • Physical exercise releases natural endorphins and builds self-esteem.
  • Team-building exercises create opportunities for rewarding social engagement.
  • Meditation, yoga, prayer and other spiritual techniques can help focus the mind.
  • Serving others is always a good idea.
  • Creative expression, such as art projects and music, can be exciting and rewarding.
  • Reading and writing can be excellent ways to occupy the mind.

Addiction is an inherently selfish condition, and the need for constant excitement and pleasure might be the ultimate expression of that selfishness. Engaging with others and finding new hobbies and interests are excellent ways to avoid boredom.

Addiction Recovery Help

If you are struggling with finding or maintaining your recovery, please call our toll-free helpline. Our counselors can connect you with the treatment or relapse prevention resources you need. Don’t focus on boredom. Call now, and get clean.