The Importance of Routine in Recovery

The Importance of Routine in Recovery

Routine is an important aspect of early recovery that can be crucial to getting through the initial stages of a new life without drugs. Some aspects of routine can be beneficial well past the initial stages of recovery but the early stages of recovery are best done with a strict routine. Having a strict routine in early recovery is important because it will provide structure as the newly recovering addict adjusts to life without drugs and it will help prevent relapse. The routine does not have to be followed forever but it can be detrimental to not have a well-thought-out routine to follow after treatment is completed. Some common aspects of a healthy routine that can benefit the initial adjustment to life in recovery can include the following:

  • Wake up at the same time every day
  • Go to bed at the same time
  • Eat meals at scheduled times
  • Follow an exercise routine every day at the same time
  • Meditate, read or journal at a certain time
  • Have scheduled time for being with friends
  • Schedule time to engage in hobbies or personal activities
  • Schedule appointments, therapy sessions and 12-Step group meetings

The idea is to have each day scheduled out in order to bring comfort to the newly recovering addict. When a person new to recovery does not have a plan for the day, she will likely become bored and begin to search for a way to use drugs again as her cravings come up. Some of the different benefits to having a routine during early recovery can include the following:

  • Early recovery brings with it numerous changes that can increase anxiety and stress. A routine helps bring comfort and stability to daily life thus reducing anxiety and stress.
  • Without a routine or schedule people in early recovery often put off tasks that need to be completed which can lead them into dangerous relapse territory.
  • An exercise routine is often essential for people in early recovery as they are likely to be in poor physical health due to past substance abuse. Regular exercise can increase health and physical appearance, boost self-esteem and even generate greater levels of happiness.

While a routine is important especially to people in early recovery there still needs to be room for potential changes or breaks from the routine. If an addict obsesses over a routine it can cause him to feel stressed or panicked when something out of his control forces him to change his plans. The routine may become unmanageable and the stress of trying to obsessively keep to the routine will likely cause a relapse. So it is also important to allow room for potential tweaks and changes to routine as a new life in recovery is an adjustment.

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