New Routine in Addiction Recovery
If you’re reading this, you’ve committed to staying sober. By going through drug rehab, you’ve already come a long way. Establishing a routine as quickly as possible will increase your chances of long-term success.
However, there’s a delicate balance between sticking to a schedule and obsessing over it. If you fail to plan, you open the door to relapse. If you’re rigid and inflexible, you open the door to other addictive behaviors.
Keep reading for tips on creating a routine that strikes the perfect balance.
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The Importance of Routine in Addiction Recovery
Kicking a habit once and for all is difficult if you don’t have anything to replace it with. Having idle time on your hands, time that you once filled by drinking or using drugs, can get you into trouble.
The solution is to make sure that your days and nights are reasonably full. Staying clean is easier once you get into a consistent rhythm; your brain soon kicks in to reward you for making positive changes. Even your body performs better when you set fairly consistent times for eating, sleeping and exercising. Whatever routine you design for yourself is reinforced whenever you repeat it. In time, new habits feel comfortable and familiar, and every recovering addict can use that kind of stability.
In the past, substance abuse was your default setting when you were lonely, bored, depressed or anxious. The idea is to create a new, healthier default setting in which life-enhancing habits replace self-destructive ones. If you establish a good routine, your mind, body and spirit will quickly go along with it. You’ll be in control again.
Establishing a Routine
A structured lifestyle has special benefits for recovering addicts.
Poor health and insomnia are common problems for newly sober people. Scheduling long-overdue doctor visits and dental exams will help you bounce back. Healthy meals will replace lost nutrients. Going to bed and waking at the same time each day will regulate your body clock for better sleep.
Planning a routine in addiction recovery will keep you from feeling overwhelmed. You’ll see that every aspect of life is manageable. Scheduling your time leaves little room for procrastination, loneliness and boredom, which are all triggers to relapse.
Here are some ideas for designing your routine:
- Prioritize recovery. Quickly decide where and how often you will attend meetings or speak with your sponsor.
- Set a regular bedtime and time to wake up. Allow time for a healthy, unrushed breakfast before work.
- Set consistent mealtimes. Research nutrition websites for menu-planning.
- Set realistic and consistent times for exercise. Start slowly, and gradually increase the length of your workouts as you build stamina.
- Schedule family time or date nights with your spouse.
- Schedule daily and weekly household tasks such as cleaning, doing laundry and paying bills.
- Schedule time for entertainment, hobbies and socialization. You might enjoy Monday Night Football, a daily crossword, a weekly movie night or a monthly book club. Get in touch with sober friends you haven’t seen in a while. Volunteer in your community.
- Make time for quiet, restorative activities like yoga, religious services, journaling or reading inspirational books.
Fill in all the specifics. Take a careful look at the final product, and rethink anything that could become a pitfall.
For example, your bike route shouldn’t take you past the neighborhood bar you used to frequent. You may not be ready to attend the wedding of a friend if a lot of drinking is planned. If you scheduled time for music, change up your playlist to eliminate songs that you associate with drinking or drug use. Gambling, online bidding, viewing pornography, eating junk food and even overexercising are addictive behaviors. Avoid them.
Adjusting for Balance
Try your schedule out for a few days or a couple of weeks. You may have to tweak it for balance. There shouldn’t be large gaps of free time, but you shouldn’t be working 60 hours a week or watching TV all weekend either. Scheduling diverse activities will keep you from getting bored and make you a more well-rounded person.
Becoming fixated on a routine defeats its purpose. You fought hard to break free from addiction, so don’t become a slave to your schedule.
Don’t neglect loved ones just for the sake of ticking off items on your list. Don’t get into a predictable rut where you stagnate. Pencil in plenty of time for classes or new activities that you’ve always wanted to try.
Be flexible. As long as your choices support sobriety, you’re okay. Feel free to skip the garage cleaning on a beautiful day. Take the kids to the park instead.
At Desert Cove Recovery, we’re committed to supporting you through each stage of the journey. If you need help getting started on a routine, call us today to speak with an experienced counselor.