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Importance of Developing New Interests in Recovery


One of the most important things that people need to do when they give up alcohol or drugs is to find constructive things to do with their time. The failure to develop new interests is a common reason for relapse. It is also vital to find meaningful things to do in order to become happy and content in sobriety.

Boredom in Recovery

When people are addicted to alcohol or drugs, it will mean that they will spend a great deal of their time focused on this activity. This means that when they break away from their addiction they will suddenly have a good deal of extra time in their life. If the person fails to find meaningful ways to use this time, they will be left with a huge whole in their life. It will also mean that they become bored, and this is very dangerous for those who are trying to start a new life away from substance abuse.

Dangers of Boredom in Recovery

Boredom can be dangerous in recovery for a number of reasons including:

  • Boredom is considered one of the most common relapse triggers. This means that people will use the lack of having something constructive to do as a reason to return to alcohol or drugs.
  • Boredom can often be a sign that the individual is not really committed to sober living. They are not looking for interesting things to do because they do not plan to stay without alcohol or drugs for too long. The person may secretly want to become bored because they feel that this will give them a justification to relapse. This can even be something that the person is doing subconsciously – sabotaging his or her own efforts.
  • If the individual is bored, they can easily develop dry drunk syndrome. This means that they are physically sober, but their behaviour is much the same as if they were in the midst of addiction. The life of a dry drunk is far from satisfying, and it will mean that the person is treating sobriety like a prison sentence rather than the joyful experience that it should be.
  • When people are bored in recovery they are at high risk of addiction substitution. This means that they will turn to alternative options to help them escape the discomfort of daily life. This could include things like workaholism or exercise addiction.

Causes of Boredom in Recovery

There is actually no real reason for why people should experience boredom in recovery. Those individuals who have a strong sobriety will usually complain that they just do not have enough hours in the day to do all the things that they want to do. The most common causes of boredom in recovery would include:

  • The individual may be avoiding finding interesting things to do because they are resistant to recovery. They are looking for a reason to relapse.
  • Many people fall into addiction at a very young age, and this means that they just do not know what to do with their time. Some of these individuals might not even remember having hobbies or taking part in activities that were not substance abuse related.
  • The most common reason for boredom in recovery is poor planning. The individual fails to arrange for things to do during their day, and this means that they have hours with nothing much to do.
  • It can take a bit of time before people are able to work out the kind of things that they like to do.
  • When people first become sober, they may find that they are without a strong social network. This is because breaking away from addiction will usually mean leaving drinking and drug using friends behind. It can take a bit of time before people are able to build a new sober social network, and this means that in the meantime they may not have people to spend time with.
  • When people give up alcohol and drugs, they will usually be dealing with withdrawal symptoms, and this can make it hard to concentrate. The individual may also feel lacking in energy, and this means that they do not want to do much. A small percentage of people early in recovery will suffer from post-acute withdrawal symptoms, which mean they can continue to suffer some effects up to a year after they have given up.
  • It is common for people who have fallen into addiction to be demand resistant. This means that they automatically so know to any suggestions for what they should do with their time.

How to Develop New Interests in Recovery

Here are a few suggestions for how people can begin to develop new interests in recovery:

  • They key to finding interesting things to do in recovery is experimentation. The individual needs to be willing to try many different things to find out what they like. This can be particularly important for those people who have not had any real non substance abuse related hobbies in adulthood.
  • It is important to become more of a “yes” person than a “no” person. If the individual keeps saying “no” to things, they are unlikely to find anything that interests them.
  • If people are dealing with concentration problems, they need to understand that this should not last for too long. In the meantime, they can experiment with activities that do not require too much concentration.
  • It is recommended that people plan their day, so that they are not left with huge gaps of empty time when they are likely to be bored.
  • The person needs to take an honest look at her or his motivation for not finding things to do. They need to decide if one reason for this might be that they are looking for an excuse to relapse.
  • The intent can be a great resource when it comes to finding interesting things to do.
  • It can be a great idea for people to join a recovery group for at least the first few months of their recovery. At the very least, this will give them something to do with their time. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous suggest that new members try to achieve 90 meetings in 90 days, and this is certainly going to keep people busy for a few mounts.

It is a good idea to speak to people who are established in recovery to find out how they found interesting things to do. These people can be a real mine of good ideas, and they will understand what the newly sober person is going through.

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