When you are in recovery from a substance use disorder, you’ll need to overcome some obvious obstacles to maintain your sobriety. You need a plan for overcoming cravings, for example. You have to replace some old habits—where you go, who you hang out with, and more—with new, healthier choices. And you need to take care of your mental health because disorders like depression and anxiety can upend your recovery efforts.

While it is not necessarily easy to manage these issues, they are likely at the top of your mind when you are working to maintain your sobriety.

But other, less obvious, things can also trip you up in sobriety. Two of them are boredom and loneliness. Let’s take a look at why each of these conditions can be problematic in recovery—and what you can do about it.

It Is Better to Avoid Boredom

We all feel bored from time to time. But generally speaking, the feeling is short-lived. It can become a problem, however, if that sense of boredom is allowed to linger. A sense of aimlessness can lead to a temptation to return to drugs or alcohol just to break up the feeling of monotony. 

So how can you address boredom when you are feeling listless and out of sorts? The key is to cultivate an interest or two that is always there for you when boredom creeps in.

And here’s the good news: As long as it does not involve drugs or alcohol, just about any interest will do. Here are just a few options:

  • Find a book or movie series you love and read or watch your way through it
  • Take up gardening or cooking—or both
  • Start a collection—coins, stamps, action figures, trading cards, quilts, what have you
  • Get involved in your local arts scene as a participant, a patron, or both
  • Set some fitness goals and get started, tracking and celebrating your progress as you go

Again, the activity is entirely up to you. If you find it engaging and interesting, it can help you fend off boredom—and protect your sobriety.

Leave Loneliness Behind

We have noted that your return to sobriety may mean you have to end some relationships. You don’t want to continue hanging out with the folks who used (or provided) drugs or alcohol with (or to) you. You will also want to end any toxic relationships that might undermine your self-esteem, your mental well-being, and your sobriety. That won’t necessarily be easy, but it is essential after all of the hard work you have done to reclaim your sobriety and your life.

Still and all, loneliness can be a threat to your sobriety as well. That means it is not enough to end your problematic relationships; you also have to cultivate your positive relationships.

Those relationships include the family members and friends who truly understand what you have been through and how difficult the recovery journey can be. These are the people who will make sure you are never put in a position to be tempted—or who will get you out of that sort of situation should it arise. These are the folks who are happy to join you for activities that don’t involve alcohol or drugs and who will always pick you up when you are struggling. 

We want to note that you should also strive to be a good friend to others. Doing so is the right thing to do, of course, but it also supports your sobriety as you give of yourself for the benefit of friends and family.

The Same Strategy Upends Boredom and Loneliness

We want to note that spending time with trusted family and friends doing activities that you all enjoy is a great way to tackle both boredom and loneliness. That makes it a great approach to protecting your sobriety—while also adding to your overall quality of life.

We Never Get Tired of Helping People

At The Aviary Recovery Center, near St. Louis, MO, our passion is helping people overcome substance use disorders and the co-occurring mental health disorders that may accompany them. We bring to bear our experience and expertise, and we provide personalized treatment grounded in evidence and empathy. If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, the time to get help is always right now.