One of the hardest things that former addicts have to deal with is the constant craving and desire to go back to their old habits. Addiction is a disease that takes hold of a person for most of their lives, even if they have gone through recovery and been sober for some time. Anyone that has gone through recovery will tell you just how often they have the desire to fall right back into their addictive ways. Sobriety is a life-long battle and just because someone has been sober for a while doesn’t mean they don’t struggle with desires. Some people try hard to avoid their desires, but not all of them are able to stay sober; this is what we call relapse. Relapse is a former addict’s worst nightmare, the last thing they want to do is go back to those self-destructive ways, but their minds have been rewired to think they absolutely need substances in order to feel happy. So then the question arises: How can you stay strong in a life-long battle like this? Routine!
Routine in a Sober Life
What is routine and why is it so important for a former addict to have? Let’s first discuss what routine is. A routine is defined as “a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.” This can look like a daily or weekly “to-do” list or a calendar of regularly scheduled events. For people in recovery, this is extremely important for them to live a successful sober life. For anyone coming into the sober life, sobriety may be overwhelming at first because there is nothing there to make them feel inebriated. Former addicts will have a hard time living a life without a chemical refuge when they need it; they now have to face hardships without any sort of substance to save them. What these people need is a little order in this seemingly chaotic life and a routine could bring that order into their lives.
Structure and Stability
A routine can provide structure and stability into a former addict’s life, giving them very little time to sit by themselves and be bored. Boredom is one of the biggest reasons why people relapse in the first place. If you’ve ever been alone with your own thoughts and emotions, chances are you’ve had desires to do something to cope with it. Some people will do something productive like work out, but a person struggling with addiction may take their free time and turn it into substance abuse time. Having a routine can keep a person busy, help maintain their focus, motivate them, and help them create healthy patterns to follow in life.
Kicking All The Old Habits
Living a healthy sober life doesn’t just mean kicking alcohol or drugs, it means completely changing the way you do life. Sure, kicking drugs/alcohol out of your routine is beneficial, but what about the other unhealthy behaviors in your life that may contribute to your past behaviors? Becoming more active, eating better, sleeping more, and using your free time more productively are all great habits that can help a person live a more successful sober life. Start manifesting these kinds of habits early in recovery so you can avoid any possibility of relapsing.
Routines Help Early Recovery
Withdrawal and cravings can be extremely uncomfortable to deal with, that is why we use routines in recovery. A routine gives structure to your day and creates familiarity, comfortability, structure, and stability into a life that seems uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Routines can also help keep someone more accountable and productive. Some people will use lists to keep track of what they want to get done in a day and check off each task as they complete them. Other people may use a weekly calendar to remind them of upcoming events they need to attend to or they may use it to help create a schedule they can follow each day. This is the definition of routine, outlining regular actions/tasks that need to be taken care of. You can see how these kinds of behaviors can help provide structure to a seemingly unstructured life.
What Could A Routine Look Like?
You may be asking yourself which behaviors do you even change besides ones related to substance abuse? Let us help out by providing a few examples you could easily implement into your newly found sober life if you haven’t already:
- Daily meditation can help you relax, realign your priorities, and organize your thoughts/feelings/emotions.
- Daily journal entries can help you dump all your emotions out on paper. This way, any sort of negative feelings are released through your pen rather than having them fester inside of you.
- A daily workout schedule can help you be more active, healthy, and productive. A big bonus to working out frequently is the release of dopamine in your brain. When we are active, our brain releases or hormone called dopamine which we call the “happy hormone” because it is closely related to general happiness. That’s right, working out can help fight sadness, anxiety, and depression.
- Eating healthier is also another behavior you should implement into your weekly routine. The last thing you need to do is take out one bad habit, like substance abuse, and replace it with something like eating unhealthy foods. Consistently eating unhealthy foods could result in weight gain, which could lead to laziness, which could then lead to fewer trips to the gym. This could easily result in a self-loathing which could cause a relapse in some extreme situations.
- Actively visiting help groups, therapy sessions, or any other kinds of recovery-based resources can give the person a safe place to voice what they’re going through. Therapists and recovery groups are meant to provide a safe space for former or struggling addicts to come and talk to someone. Finding support like this in recovery is essential, you should not do this on your own.
If you’ve ever been in an unfamiliar place or been surrounded by people you do not know, you may have felt uncomfortable or anxious. This is exactly how it feels for someone going through recovery; this new lifestyle is uncomfortable and unfamiliar to them. Routines in recovery can provide structure, stability, and familiarity into an otherwise unfamiliar lifestyle. Now, you can see just how important routine in recovery is.
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