Boredom..none of us enjoy feeling bored right? For those of us who have struggled with substances in some way shape or form, boredom is one of those uncomfortable feelings that can trigger a desire to use. It makes sense in a lot of ways when we think about it right? Drinking and using gives us something to do that feels exciting in the moment, it allows us to avoid sitting with the discomfort of boredom (and the feelings that lie beneath it).
For many people, boredom feels especially frequent and difficult to deal with when we have recently made changes in our drug and alcohol use. Some of the reason for this is actually just essentially a by product of changes we have had to make to get to the point in our recovery we are at now. For example, recovery often involves making changes in the people we surround ourselves with, even to the point of losing relationships. We also just reduced or completely took away an activity that was taking up a large amount of our time! Add to that the fact that for many people there’s an element of excitement and “drama” that comes along with their drug and alcohol use that is now absent from their lives. When we sit back and think about it like this, it actually makes sense in many ways that boredom would naturally be an issue that comes up in this situation.
One of the most helpful things to think about in dealing with this challenge is what else can we do to fill that extra time, space, energy, etc. that we know have. Human beings typically don’t do well with just taking away a behavior without putting another behavior in its place. That said, finding alternatives can be difficult. It can take quite a bit of time (and a willingness to experiment), to find new interests, activites, and develop new healthy relationships. One question that can often be helpful to ask to get us started is “what were the things I use to enjoy, before I started using substances?” We can take it all the way back to childhood. Give some of those things a try. You may be surprised by what you find you still actually really enjoy, but ended up getting pushed to the wayside due to drugs and alcohol.
Questions about boredom in recovery or anything else sobriety related? Feel free to get in touch!