During early recovery, it’s common for people to get bored easily. There is a lot of new down time that they don’t necessarily know how to fill. Someone who is in the early stages of recovery may be used to beating boredom by drinking or using substances, but they now have to think of creative ways to occupy themselves. Learning how to have fun and enjoy oneself while sober is incredibly important when it comes to sustaining recovery and preventing relapse.

Why Does Recovery Feel So Boring?

Obviously, people will become bored when they have more free time on their hands. Individuals in recovery are used to spending a majority of their time acquiring, buying, using, or recovering from drugs or alcohol. When they suddenly can’t spend time on things that they used to spend hours doing, they may not know how to fill their day. This feeling of boredom becomes especially strong about 2-4 months into recovery. At this point, people may realize that they don’t know how to occupy their time without doing drugs. They won’t necessarily feel any strong emotions or cravings related to drugs any longer, but they may feel a sense of emptiness without something that used to be such an essential part of their daily routine.

The Dangers of Being Bored During Recovery

Boredom is one of the most common relapse triggers. When someone with a substance abuse problem feels apathetic, they may gravitate toward drugs or alcohol. And even if they don’t, they could end up spending time with people from their past who are negative influences. If individuals in recovery do not know how to wisely manage their time, they could easily slide right back into their addiction simply because they thought they had nothing better to do.

How to Deal With Boredom in Recovery

If you are recovering from an addiction and don’t know how to beat boredom, there are many more ways to have fun while sober than you might think. Here are some ways to deal with boredom during the recovery process:

  1. Find or get back to hobbies. Think of what you’re good at and what you like. Some examples include doing improv or comedy, cooking, playing an instrument, painting, drawing, swimming, gardening, photography, singing, dancing, and more.
  2. Exercise and eat well. Notice how certain foods make you feel and try to stick with the ones that make your body feel good. Similarly, find a type of exercise that you enjoy.
  3. Spend time in the great outdoors. Go on a walk in the neighborhood, hike up a mountain, run a marathon, or even go for a bike ride in your local park.
  4. Give back. Help others with their recovery or volunteer with a charity.
  5. Practice structure. Create a daily routine and try to stick to it every day.

If you’re not sure where to start, talk to your therapist about wanting to find new ways to spend your time. Since they will know you well, they should be able to help you implement a routine that you will practice regularly and enjoy.

Battling Boredom: You Aren’t Alone

One of the most important things to remember is that there are people like you going through the same exact thing. Join a support group if you don’t already belong to one and spend time with the network of other sober people that you meet while you’re there.