Preventing Boredom in Recovery

man with a feeling of boredom

Many people in recovery get bored easily. For many, this feeling a trigger than brings about bad ideas, such as using or participating in old behaviors. Why is boredom such a challenge for people who want to stay clean and sober? And how can you learn to cope with it and even keep yourself from being bored in the first place?

Why Boredom is So Challenging

When you were using alcohol and drugs, you probably had just a few minutes to sit still every day. It wasn’t comfortable, and you probably tried to keep your time sober at a minimum. After all, when you were having those fleeting moments of sobriety, you were probably spending your time thinking or obsessing about the next time you could get high or drunk again.

People often dislike sitting still, especially those with substance use disorder who actively get drunk or high. Sitting always gives you time with your thoughts and places you right in the center of your reality. It gives you time to feel uncomfortable emotions.

For those in early sobriety, boredom gives you time to think about the past. It's normal you will feel a compulsion to use sometimes. There are triggers that almost everyone has, and boredom is a common one. It’s natural, but it can be very uncomfortable. Idle times may make this feeling worse, especially when your head is not in a good place. Thinking too much, especially about the past and using drugs or drinking, can lead you to a slippery slope.

Things to Do When You’re Struggling With Boredom

In the era of COVID-19, it’s easy to get bored. But you don’t have to stay bored. Here are some tips and tricks to help you stay sane when you’re struggling with a feeling of boredom.

  • Write up a schedule. This activity will help you look forward to the day ahead and lets you know what “free time” you will have every day. (And then you can fill it up!)
  • Pick up the phone. Talking is much more engaging than texting. Hearing a friendly voice can change your whole mood. Reach out to a sponsor, sober buddies, and loved ones who support your recovery.
  • Go to an online meeting. If you're not sure where to find one, check your local NA or AA website for instructions. Many places also have a hotline you can call for more information.
  • Play with your pet. Science shows that animals are great companions because they provide us with unconditional love and stress relief. If you can, take your pet for a walk.
  • Watch something inspirational. There are plenty of inspirational stories online, from short video clips from people in recovery to movies. Try to avoid movies with graphic drug use, as they can be triggering.
  • Write in a journal. Keeping a gratitude journal can help you stay focused on the good. You can also write about your day, your hopes, your dreams, whatever you want.
  • Read a self-help book or your 12-step book. Some people love to take their Big Book, close their eyes, say the serenity prayer, and flip to any page to find inspiration.
  • Work on 12-step homework. If you don’t have any yet, call your sponsor and ask for some help.
  • Learn a new skill. If you’re still social distancing, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn things or find yourself a new talent. Both Eventbrite and places like Youtube offer online classes and lessons on many topics.
  • Go for a jog, bike ride, or walk. Make it a goal to do this every day. Regular exercises have a ton of benefits, including giving your mental health and general mood a boost.
  • Make a wish list or goal list. Now is the time to look to the future! What kinds of things do you hope to achieve?

These are just a few ideas of ways to keep boredom from taking over. Keeping busy is essential in early recovery. You may end up tired at the end of the day – so remember, easy does it! You don’t have to overdo things. Just try not to give yourself too much time doing nothing.

Consider Sober Living

Now, more than ever, it’s important to have people in your life who support your recovery. Sober living situations are a great way to rebuild your life and adjust to working on your new goals. Learn more about how a sober home can help you in your recovery. Call us at 760-216-2077 to learn about housing options.

There are a lot of temptations in recovery. It’s recommended that people with substance use disorders avoid old people, places and things. These are simple ways to avoid a relapse. Old people may tempt you to use, hanging out with people who use alcohol and drugs, and old habits can trap you in a cycle of addictive behavior that leads to relapse. One of the biggest triggers, however, is one that’s rarely spoken of; boredom.

Why is Boredom a Trigger?

When you first started using your drug of choice, you probably were doing it recreationally. If you bored, sad, angry or happy, as time went on, you used to “enjoy yourself” and “relax”. Addiction will give you any and all excuses to get high. Boredom was probably a big trigger. Whether you used to get away from yourself, relax, or stop thinking about your problems, boredom was probably a part of all of those feelings.

Boredom can lead to complacency, depression, and loneliness. If you’re bored, you’re not working on your recovery or you don’t want to. Your thoughts may start to drift toward the “good old times” – times when you felt like your drug use was fun and under control. It’s easy to see how this can lead to a relapse.

Remember: you have a substance use disorder. It is a lifelong and chronic disease. Your brain wants to trick you into using, and it will tell you whatever lies you want to hear.

Overcoming Boredom in Recovery

If you’re bored in recovery, that usually means something is missing. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Do you have hobbies or interests that you’ve been ignoring or gave up a long time ago? (In recovery, there comes a time to “do you”. Learning about your interests, and pursuing them while you’re sober can give you some relief.)
  • Are you feeling depressed? Do you have trouble staying motivated? Do you feel hopeless about the future? (If so, it’s time to take care of your mental health, and speak to others in recovery for suggestions or see a therapist.)
  • Are you practicing self-care? Do you feel burnt out and tired? (Self-care is a great way to stay motivated and take care of your individual needs. We have a few articles on self-care available if you search the blog.)

Boredom is something that everyone experiences, but people in recovery are particularly suspeptible to its effects. Keep your focus on your goals and the good things in life; this too shall pass. Working on your recovery program and making time for your favorite things will help keep you grounded.

Why Choose Sober Housing

At By The Sea Recovery, we offer the highest sober living standards. With healthy structure, sober living culture and above all safety, we provide a space for everyone to heal and continue their recovery journey. Get in touch with us at 760-216-2077.

Everyone in recovery has triggers, which are small or large things that cause them to want to get high, drunk, or act poorly. These are things like situations or emotions (sometimes subtle) that caused you to use in the past. Because drinking or using drugs was your reaction in the past, when these situations happen to you as a newly sober person, you may feel triggered.

Understanding Triggers

Here’s how triggers work. Sally is a newly recovering alcoholic. She might feel a desire to drink when she passes the bar she used to go to every Friday night. She may be triggered on payday, when she used to spend part of her paycheck on a trip to the liquor store. When Sally gets in an argument with her spouse, her first reaction used to be to take a drink to “calm her nerves”.

Now that Sally is sober, she has to learn to understand and cope with her triggers.


3 Huge Triggers to Watch Out For


  • Boredom: If you’re bored, you’re not moving forward. It’s time to find new hobbies and learn how to have fun in recovery. Start socializing with others in recovery. Go to sober events and explore meetings. When you find yourself getting bored, make it a point to start scheduling activities like going out with your friends or spending some time meditating.
  • Loneliness: Loneliness is as dangerous as boredom, and it can creep up on you. When you’re new in recovery, it’s easy to feel lonely and overwhelmed. You are making new fsober riends by now, but it's still hard sometimes. Try to reach out to your sponsor and others in recovery if you’re feeling lonely. Go to a meeting when you’re feeling lonely. You may feel lonely, but you’re never alone. People want to help you stay clean and sober.
  • Complacency: You’re skipping your aftercare meetings because you prefer to spend the morning in bed. You decide that instead of going to AA meetings every night, you’ll go every other night. You put your step work under a pile of magazines. When you bail on your obligations, you make yourself and recovery vulnerable to relapse. Do the work and keep the promises to yourself.

These are three big triggers for people who are new to recovery. Don’t let boredom, loneliness, or complacency grab ahold of you. Instead, share with others where you’re at in life. Go to as many 12-step meetings as you’re capable, and don’t pick up a drink or a drug. Take it a day at a time.


Looking for Sober Housing

Some people know they need some extra support when they have finished treatment. Are you looking for a supportive, therapeutic sober housing arrangement as you transition back to the community? We can help you learn about your options. Contact us at 1-760-216-2077 for more information.




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