A lot of people say they stay addicted out of boredom. Actually, the opposite is true; boredom has arisen out of addiction. The mind becomes accustomed to getting a hit on-demand and becomes conditioned to be intolerant of the natural ebb and flow of life. Those quiet spaces are the opportunities for recharge and new growth.
There’s an acronym in addiction recovery referred to as HALT. It stands for hungry, angry, lonely, tired. If you’re experiencing any of these things, you need to address them promptly, or you’re likely to be triggered to relapse. Low blood sugar from hunger can cause mood swings and drive irrational decisions. According to Alcoholics Anonymous, anger is a luxury that recovering people cannot afford because righteous indignation is used to justify drinking or drugging. When someone is lonely, they are much more susceptible to seek escape from those feelings and use addiction to fill the void. Fatigue makes everything seem worse than it is and also can precede relapse.
There’s one more letter that could be added to the warning signs. The letter B, which stands for bored, is one of the most common words used by people trying to stay sober.
It’s only natural to feel bored after giving up an addiction. Addictions are used to satisfy every type of longing, and once that artificial fix is removed, what is a person to do with themselves?
The preoccupation with the next hit is now a huge void. How can you fill that space with something healthy? It’s pretty easy as long as you decide that you’re worth the tiny bit of effort.
Create a New Pattern
Even if you don’t have an addiction, most people tend to live in a box. They have patterns and rituals they live by, the same foods, the same work routine, the same everything. Once in this groove, it’s hard to break. But if you’ve used addiction to cope with boredom, you’re even more stuck.
If you change your patterns and replace them with new enjoyable activities, you can interrupt your addiction routine. If you engage in the addiction at a particular time of day, plan on doing something else, a healthier choice at the same time you would typically use. For example, if your addiction mellows you out, do something that creates relaxation, such as meditation or walking in your favorite place. If your addiction stimulated you, find something that gives you that lift. For example, if sugar is your addiction, rather than eating binge foods, take up a cooking hobby and take the time to prepare healthy desserts. I have a friend who not only makes delicious sugar and gluten-free desserts, and she also wrote a cookbook.
These are just a couple of examples to replace an addiction with self-love behaviors. Every addictive behavior has a healthy alternative; you simply have to care enough about yourself to make the loving choice.
Make A Bucket List
We all need something to look forward to. A bucket list is things you’d like to do but never could afford or took the time. Once you stop an addiction, you should have extra money and time to do the things on your list. For now, just write them down, and then you can develop a plan for accomplishing those cherished wishes. Once you’ve finished your planning and saving, you can fulfill those long-awaited dreams. One person, I know always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon and, after a year sober, made the trip with a couple of friends. Now when he feels hopeless, he thinks of that experience, and it takes him back to the beauty that inspired and lifted him to a place of wonder and awe.
Make a Self-Love List
All addictions are destructive to your body, mind, and soul. If you are ever to recover, you will need to replace those unhealthy behaviors with acts of self-love. Many people confuse self-medicating with self-love. They are not the same.
If you don’t know how to take good care of your body, mind, and soul, it’s never too late to learn how. One good place to start is to pretend that you are a young child and then care for yourself in the same manner. Structure, healthy food, plenty of rest, friends, and playtime are all an excellent start. (visit firstname.lastname@example.org to request a list of 101+ ways to self-love). Once you learn how to replace addiction with love, you’ll soon forget all about your addiction.
You’re never really bored; you simply haven’t learned how to fill your time with meaningful activities that produce good self-esteem. Once you lift the lid and get out of the box, you can discover a world that has an endless list of exciting activities, hobbies, and interests. Before you know it, your life will have new meaning, new friends, and a sense of joy not previously attained.
Join the Movement
Donna Marks is an educator and licensed psychotherapist and addictions counselor in Palm Beach, Florida. Since 1989, she has worked with over 6,000 clients. Donna’s struggle with addiction brought her to a worldwide search for healing. She became licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in 1987. In 1989, she earned a Doctorate Degree in Adult Education, then became Certified in Addictions, Gestalt Therapy, Psychoanalysis, Hypnosis, and Sex Therapy. Donna developed an award-winning addiction training program at Palm Beach Community College. She co-owned an outpatient treatment program and is a consultant to treatment centers. Donna is the author of two books; Learn, Grow, Forgive, and the multi-award-winning, Exit the Maze-One Addiction, One Cause, One Cure, and created an online course for people who want to be cured of addiction.
Donna is a public speaker and has shared her methods with hundreds of thousands of listeners on podcasts and radio shows.
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