Boredom in Recovery

Think for a moment about how much of your time and attention was focused on your drug of choice when you were still involved in your addiction to alcohol or other drugs.  There was the time you spent actually using drugs, but there was also the time you spent under the influence of drugs and the time you spent acquiring drugs.  While you were under the influence of drugs, you were likely not able to do much of anything else.  Acquiring drugs involved not just getting the drugs from your dealer; it also involved the process of getting the resources (e.g. money) that you needed to purchase drugs.  This does not even count the time you spent thinking about drugs or recovering from the influence of drugs.  A substantial part of your time was focused on drugs.

Once you begin the process of recovery, the time previously spent on drugs is now empty hours that you may not know what to do with.  This reality creates a certain amount of boredom.  You have a whole lot of time that used to be occupied by your addiction.  You must find a way to fill that empty time.  It’s important to realize that your mind, your thoughts, will naturally be attracted to your previous behavior.  When you terminate that behavior, you have to find some way to occupy the time you previously spent on drugs.  It has been said that nature abhors a vacuum.  When you stop using drugs, it creates a kind of vacuum in your life, time that you may not know what to do with.

 

Further, you must find positive ways to fill that time.  Often, people who want to stop using alcohol or other drugs end up adopting a different behavior to occupy the time they used to spend on drugs.  They may start smoking, for example.  People who have started to recover from drug use might start drinking instead.  Among other terms, this is known as ‘transferring your addiction’ or ‘cross addiction’.  In such cases, the person remains a victim of addiction.  They just become addicted to something different.  This is not really recovery.  It is really just replacing one addiction with another.  Freed from sin by the gift of faith in Jesus Christ, it would be foolish to remain a slave to one substance or another.  An addiction must be replaced by something positive and healthy, not by a different addiction. Giving in to boredom will often lead you to adopt a different addiction.  It is much better to replace an addiction with a habit that is not self-destructive.

Holiday Celebrations with Recovering Loved Ones

We are still a few weeks out from Halloween, which means we are only a few months away from Thanksgiving and then Christmas.

This time of year is a time that many people look forward to as it is filled with family, friends, decorations, food, presents, and much more. It is a time to just enjoy each other’s company and reflect on the year and be thankful for your blessings.

But, while most people do enjoy this time of year, there are also several people who dread this time of year…

For some, the holidays bring sorrow and sadness, anxiety and pain…

Often times, addicts will not show up at family gatherings. Maybe it is because they feel someone there does not approve of them or maybe it is because the thought of seeing their entire family is just too overwhelming.

Regardless of the reasoning, even once they are in recovery they can still find it hard to make an appearance at family gatherings during the holiday. And, that can leave you feeling down as well – rather it is your child, parent, or even just a cousin.

christmas, christmas tree, decoration

But, during this sensitive time, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. If you are serving alcohol, check with them first. Of course, you are not required to tailor your party just to their liking – that might actually make them uncomfortable. But, you do not want to enable or tempt them. So, if a recovering addict is attending your gathering, just privately check with them first if alcohol at the gathering is okay. It could make all the difference. And, isn’t their presence more important than your glass of champagne?
  2. Provide a place for alone time. Typically, this is a given. Everyone will not be hanging out in every area of the house – your room, your child’s room, both bathrooms, the living room, and the dining room. But, just privately make it known to that family member that if they are feeling overwhelmed, they are more than welcome to catch their breath in a designated room of the house.
  3. Ask yourself if you are all really ready to celebrate together. Has there been some animosity between you? Is there a more likely than not chance that a fight or argument might break out? A hostile or depressing environment is not good for the person recovering or anyone else involved. So, before inviting them, ask yourself and your family if you are ready to celebrate with them. Then, if you decide you are, privately ask that person if they are ready to see you as well.

Addiction and Recovery for Teens

The title of this blog itself might be enough to stop you in your tracks –

The addiction and recovery process for teens?

People often think of those in addiction recovery as being adults. While the majority of them are, there are several teens who suffer from substance abuse just as equally, unfortunately.

As a parent or even just another outsider, it can be hard to understand what the recovery process is like for a teen. While you have certain expectations of what addiction recovery will be like, but when you see a teen going through it it is still different than what you might have expected.

Because they are so young and their brains are still so underdeveloped, it can be a difficult process on both parties experience:

Young Couple in City at Night

They don’t understand their limits.

Obviously, as a young adult their body’s are smaller and less developed – however, they might not understand that they have much smaller limits than an adult.

It is common that they will excessively overdo it with drugs or alcohol. A major part of the addiction recovery process for teens is just understanding what the substance is doing to their body and how much worse it is harming them because they are so much younger and smaller of stature, and most importantly, still developing.

They need to grasp what this does to their brain and other organs and how a long-term abuse of the substance beginning at such a young age could really be detrimental when it comes to their adult life.

They will probably act out.

Behavioral issues typically already come with addiction recovery as the drug or alcohol that the individual was abusing changes their personality and coming off of that can create some emotional issues.

But, teens are extra hormonal as their bodies are changing so you might notice that they experience some extra sadness and frustration which can bleed over into their home life too. They might lash out at you easier or sleep much more.

They have their whole life ahead of them.

One benefit to addiction recovery as a teen is that your whole life is still waiting for you right ahead. So, while they are struggling to get better and hurting, remind them of that.

Most people feel down because they have wasted half or all of their life on their addiction, but a teen has the perfect opportunity to not become that person by getting better now.

Support vs. Enabling

So, you have a family member who is addicted to drugs or alcohol?

Well, guess what – you are not the only one.

Several people can say they have family members who are bound by the wrath of drugs and alcohol. You find yourself wanting to help them – you want them to get better. But, the problem is that there is a fine line between supporting someone and enabling them.

To support someone in recovery means to back them up. You are proud of them and encourage them to go, reminding them why they should go, taking them if needed, etc.

To enable someone in recovery means to provide what might appear as support but something that could enable them to get the drugs or alcohol. So, it might be something like giving them money.

The idea is to actively help them by offering advice, such as new studies on the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol but not aid them in weakness.

For example, if they say they need money for their rehab program, give the money directly to the program rather than them to ensure you aren’t enabling them but rather supporting them.

Support mostly consists of actively listening – do they need advice? Just a shoulder to cry on?

active, activity, adventure

It can be easy to enable someone because we don’t want to tell them “no” or we might feel as though we are helping them, but in all reality, you might be helping them hurt themselves even more.

Let them know you are there to support and encourage them, but you will not take part in giving them money, taking them to meet up with inappropriate people, give them a place to hang out and sleep if they are on drugs or drinking.

Support rather than enabling an addict is almost like raising a kid. You have to be stern, set rules and that is where it ends.

Just another example to help you decipher between the two:

You might offer to allow them to stay in your home while you are gone during the day, but you are giving them access to alcohol (maybe), money or valuable items, privacy, etc. Instead, offer to take them to work with you so they can search the Internet for jobs.

Or, offer to take them to the library or somewhere productive.

Don’t give into their every request, but rather suggest an option where they have to stay clean and on track.

 

The Spirit of Volunteering

Rather you are the one with an addiction or it is one of your family members, you are always looking for a way to make things easier. You are looking for ways to help them or help yourself – physically and emotionally.

One thing that people in the midst of addiction often forget is that they have the power to make a change and they can also use their negative situation to benefit someone else – for the good.

This is where volunteering comes in…

If you are the addict…

As someone recovering from an addiction, you will find that you need to do healthy things to keep your mind off of your previous habits and to avoid a relapse.

You will also find that you are not able to maintain most of the friendships you once had because they were unhealthy…

So, now you find yourself stuck looking for friends and looking for a way to keep yourself busy.

Well, getting involved in something positive is the best way to overcome this difficult time.

Find something local – in your community – that is both beneficial to the community and helps you feel like you are making a difference. Through this you can help yourself while also helping others. You will be making a difference in the life of those you are doing the volunteering for, but you will also keep yourself busy and potentially meet new friends through volunteering.

Another benefit is that you might have a chance to tell your story and truly help someone overcome what you, yourself are trying to overcome.

How awesome would it be to help save someone else from the trap of addiction?

There are several different volunteer organizations out there that serve a variety of different people. Find something you are interested in or passionate about and go make a difference in the world.

It will help you feel better and will also give you back some of the confidence you have been lacking for awhile now.

If you are the family…

Sometimes, as the family of an addict, you just want to find a way to help other addicts.

So, for you, the art of volunteering is a little bit more specific…

Volunteering is a great way to:

First, lead by example. You can use your act of volunteering to encourage your addicted love one to volunteer, too.

Secondly, it is a great way to get involved helping other addicts. You have seen first hand what it can do to people. Try to help other addicts too so no other families have to suffer.

Find out today how you can do your part in your community.

Imagine Yourself Sober

Some psychologists use something called a ‘miracle question’.  The miracle question asks you to imagine what your life could be like.  It is usually phrased as an invitation:  “If you could change something about your life right now, what would you choose to change?”  What if you could terminate your addiction by merely wishing to do so?  If there were no need for treatment, it would be much easier to live a sober life.  If there were no need to endure the suffering of withdrawal, ending your addiction would be much easier.  If you did not have to deal with the guilt and shame that may be associated with your addiction to alcohol or other drugs, beginning a new kind of life would be something that you could be confident about.  While miraculously ending your addiction and everything attached to it is really not possible, it can still be useful for you to imagine a life without alcohol or drugs.  If you’re wondering how this kind of imagined recovery can benefit you, here are some ways.

First, imagining a life without drugs can help you to think about how your life will be different if you quit using drugs.  You will probably spend your time differently.  You will likely also spend your time with different people.  The way you spend your money will be different, too.  In other words, imagining a life without alcohol or other drugs will help you to think about the kind of person you want to be and the kind of life you want to live.

Second, imagining a life without alcohol or other drugs will help you know what kinds of skills you will need.  How will you handle the challenges, suffering and stress of life?  Previously, drugs had been a kind of crutch you used to help you deal with your problems.  Take away that crutch, and you will need to develop different ways to cope with your problems.

Imagining a sober life will also help you to think about what kind of people you will be spending your time with.  Continuing to hang around with people who still use drugs while you’re in recovery simply won’t work.  You may need to make some new friends and find different places to spend your time.  Are there people in your life who are living a sober life?  Those are the ones you want to spend time with.  Spending time at places where you formerly abused drugs may very well undermine your recovery.  What people will you spend your time with and where will you visit with them?

Imagine yourself sober, then become that person you imagine.

Finding New Goals

Using drugs probably started out a way for you to handle your problems.  As time goes by, however, drugs can become much more than that.  They stop being something your do and become the focus of your life.  That’s what addiction really involves, that whatever substance you abuse is the most important thing in your life.  It becomes more important than friends; more important than family; more important than work and even more important than your health.  It can reach the point where your drug of choice is more important than your life.  In fact, your drug of choice becomes your life to the point where absolutely nothing else matters.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  Drugs don’t have to be the most important thing in your life.  You can change your whole life.  You can restore order to your life and reorganize your priorities.  As long as your abuse of alcohol or other drugs continues, your life will be unmanageable.  It may not be what you expected, but using drugs will make your life even more unmanageable.  While you remained a victim of addiction, your only real interest was in getting the drug you believed you needed.  Once you enter into recovery, you’ll have to find a new purpose for your life.

What purpose?  That’s up to you.  Some people dedicate themselves to helping others escape from slavery to drugs, serving as mentors for others who are entering into recovery.  Parents, once they enter into recovery, may choose to make caring for their children the focus of their life.  Others, knowing themselves to have been blessed by God with sobriety, may want to become ministers of some kind, reaching out to the poor and suffering.  Once you have made progress in your recovery, you’ll need to determine what it is that you really want to do with your life.

What you choose to do with your life is less important than that you do choose something.  Teacher, counselor, minister, parent or friend are really just different ways to accomplish something meaningful with your life.  Even aside from the roles mentioned above, there are a myriad of ways in which you can help to make the world a better place.

As the saying goes: “Don’t just sit there, do something.”  Do something, do anything.  Your life is valuable.  Do something with it.  Make a difference, a positive difference, in the lives of those around you.

Learn To Relax

There are many challenges in our lives, many things that make us worry or upset us.  Sometimes, we suffer from anxiety in social situations.  Sometimes, we worry about bills or about problems at work.  Sometimes we are afraid of whatever might happen tomorrow.  Whatever it is that brings stress into your life, you may have given in to the temptation to use alcohol or other drugs to deal with that stress.  In the end, drugs don’t really solve the problem.  The use of drugs actually brings new problems into our lives.  It has been said that only very intelligent people can maintain a drug habit.  There is a lot of truth to this.  Finding a place to use drugs and figuring out how to get them can be very difficult.  Since getting the money needed to buy drugs often involves lying and deceit, you have to be smart enough to keep track of the lies you have told.

In the midst of the challenges of life, we can always trust in God.  We don’t need drugs to cope with life, we just need God.  The key to true peace involves trusting in God’s loving care for you.  You will encounter many challenges that are beyond your ability to overcome.  That’s OK.  God is all-powerful and He can overcome all of the challenges you face.  Trust in Him.  Relax, knowing that you are held safely in the hands of the all-loving God.

This doesn’t happen overnight.  Like any relationship, learning to trust in God is something we have practice.  If you review your life, however, you will learn that the times you tried to rely only on yourself were some of the most difficult times of your life.  By the same token, you were most at peace at those times that you were able to trust in God’s care for you.

Relaxing doesn’t come easy.  It involves letting go of having to control things.  You’ve probably heard the phrase: ‘Let go and let God’.  If you can’t or won’t let go, then you may very well find yourself overwhelmed by the challenges facing you.  If you can learn to trust in God, then you can learn to relax knowing that God is in charge.  One thing you can learn from your experience of abusing alcohol or other drugs is that you’ve often made poor decisions about your life.  Now, you can learn to make a great decision.  You can choose to trust in God.  Then, you can really relax.

Not Just Stopping, but Starting Over

Abandoning your addiction is really only half the story.  As important as it is to terminate a self-destructive behavior, more is necessary.  An example may help to clarify this point.  If you want to live a healthier lifestyle, for example, you have to do more than just spend less time sitting around or cut back on the amount of sweets that you eat.  You also have to starting getting more exercise and adopt a healthier diet.  Similarly, if you want to become a better student, you have to do more than just cut down on the amount of time you spend watching television.  You also have to spend more time studying.  Recovery from addiction, in the same way, requires more than just terminating your use of drugs.  You also have to spend more time engaged in healthy behaviors.

If you are able to stop using drugs, that’s a great step in the right direction.  You also have to find healthy ways to spend the time that you used to spend on drugs.  Recovery is more than just stopping one behavior.  It is also learning a new behavior.  In fact, it is learning a new way to live your life, a set of priorities, a new way to handle the challenges and stresses of life.  Abusing alcohol or other drugs is sometimes a way to cope with the problems that are a part of our lives.  Sometimes, we use alcohol or other drugs to fit in with our friends.  Overall, addiction can become a way handle all of the stress and suffering that can be a part of life.

What this means is that we have to learn new ways to deal with the stresses and sufferings of life, ways that do not rely upon drug use.  We must learn new ways to cope with the problems that are a part of our lives.  Formerly, we used alcohol or other drugs as a kind of crutch to help us handle our problems.  Terminating our drug use means surrendering that crutch and relying on ourselves, instead of relying on drugs.  We must learn new techniques for handling whatever comes our way.

We all have problems in our lives, and we have to learn healthy ways to deal with those problems, ways that do not involve using drugs as a crutch.  You can always rely on God.  You can trust Him to help you when you are struggling.  He’s much more reliable than the crutch of drug use.

How Do You Escape Habits?

Habits – we all have them. In fact, they say it takes about it only takes about 3 weeks, just 21 days, for something to become a habit.

Think about that – just drinking a few beers every day for 21 days could cause you to develop a habit of drinking. Just using drugs for 21 days could cause you to develop a lifelong habit of drug abuse.

In the scheme of an entire year – 365 days – or even in the scheme of your entire life, 21 days is equal to merely a few seconds.

And, it is when we develop these habits that things get dangerous…

As you develop a habit of something, it becomes much harder to quit. So, once you develop a habit of drinking, it is much harder to stop. Once you develop a habit of doing drugs, it is much harder to stop. A habit simply becomes a normal part of your everyday life.

So, when it comes time for recovery, rather from drugs or alcohol, the first step to changing is breaking your habits and developing new and healthy habits.

But, how do you break a habit that has seemingly become a normal part of your everyday life?

Well, it is not easy, but it is possible.

And, it starts with change.

To break a habit, you have to make a change – you have to stop doing it, you have to find something else to do instead, you have to learn to resist the temptation to go back to that old habit.

But, with change comes hard work…

To change, you have to become self-aware:

How can you avoid a temptation if you don’t even realize there is something tempting you?

Get off autopilot and become aware of:

  • What you are doing.
  • Who you are with.
  • How you feel physically.
  • How you feel emotionally.
  • Where you are.
  • What you are thinking.

By becoming completely aware of these things, you can learn what to avoid and what to do more of.

For example, maybe you haven’t been able to see your child very often because of your addiction…

2 Girls Hugging Each Other Outdoor during Daytime

So, at your next visit, rather than just going on autopilot and sitting there watching them play like you always do, you engage with them, have more conversations, and most importantly…

You notice how you are feeling in that very moment.

Do you feel happy? Do you feel relieved?

This can also be the first step to gaining the motivation for change.

Notice the things around you – notice what makes you want to change and how you can change.

You can always break a habit, but you can always pick it right back up.