Question: Why did you relapse? Answer: ‘I got bored – I had a boredom relapse.’ Are you kidding me?
Rationally, logically, or to a person who is not addicted to drugs, the boredom relapse excuse for a relapse in addiction recovery just doesn’t make any sense.
That being said, boredom in addiction recovery is one of the most often cited reasons addicts give for relapse. On a superficial level an addict being bored is a breeding ground for the genius idea of “I got something to do I’ll go get high.”
There is a lot more to it than that.
Read on as we dig a little deeper into what this boredom relapse is really all about
But What Exactly Is Boredom, Especially As A Drug Addiction Relapse Trigger?
Have you really thought about what boredom actually is?
Boredom is a feeling or state of mind. Life is very dull, that nothing is going on, everything is monotonous, not exciting, no actionand very tiring. Same old same old.
Sometimes a vacuum is created when we stop hanging around old people, places, and situations that used to occupy so much of our time in getting high and staying high.
Most addicts will take the often the advice of changing who they hang with and where they hand out. It’s a good thing to change their surroundings. The error that is often made is they do not replace old people places and things with new, supportive people places and things. So, sometimes a vacuum is created in that space between dumping the old people, places and things and acquiring new friends. Finding fun, safe people to hang out with can be a slow process. That in between period can be very dangerous.
Boredom simply means that nothing new is going on. The danger here is that one nothing new is going on, a natural inclination for addicts and alcoholics is to start thinking about stimulation and thrill seeking. We all know something that works very well to change any mood and it works very quickly. Go get high. Overcoming boredom is a fundamental piece of drug relapse education.
There is a solution to avoid this deadly trap.
Boredom Relapse? Get Off Your Butt And Do Something!
First off, realize that being bored is not really a fact. It is a feeling and a mood that is generated by some type of thinking going on in your head at the moment. You can change your moods and feelings by changing your thinking.
For example, in my head I’ll say I’m bored. A question to ask myself is what am I thinking that is a leading me to the conclusion that I am bored at this moment? Chances are I might be having a thought of ‘I have nothing to do tonight’, or’ my family is not around’. Those thoughts lead to the feeling of being bored. Do some detective work and figure out what you’re thinking that has you feeling this way.
Here is a novel concept: change your thinking to change your mood.
Here are a couple questions I asked myself when my thoughts might be getting myself in trouble:
- Is _____________(whatever I’m thinking) really true?
- Do I have to do something about it right now?
- How I feel about myself if I don’t do anything about this situation? Better, worse, stay the same.
- How I feel about myself if I do something about the situation and change it? Better, worse, stay the same.
Once you decide you want to change your mood, don’t JUST think about it. You must take action for yourself. Get your butt off the couch or out of bed, stop eating Cheetos and start finding some new people and fun activities.
Get interested in other people, extend interest or a helping hand to others. One of the best ways to get out of your own head is to start helping another person, they get the help they need and you feel good about yourself and giving it.
Put yourself in the position of being able to meet new people. Here is a crazy, off-the-wall suggestion (being sarcastic): go to 12 step meetings, go to lots of 12 step meetings. Here is will you find people who understand addiction and better yet are succeeding in recovery. Here’s a line that works beautifully to start a conversation with almost anybody at a meeting stick out your hand and say “hi I’m new here I don’t know what’s going on but I could use some help” I have never known that to fail to start a conversation.
Being Bored Is Just A Lame Excuse To Go Get High. You’re Just Got Stuck And Are Staying Stuck
Okay, I hate to be mean about this but…If you have had a period of being clean and abstinent and had a drug relapse and the best excuse who can come up with was “I was bored” something is definitely wrong. You are sorely in need of drug relapse prevention planning.
The thing that might be wrong is that you had already made your mind up to go get high and were just waiting for an excuse to do so. Boredom is one of those negative or non-events that a person can use to justify or rationalize getting high. The opposite of boredom as an excuse to get high is having some catastrophe or significant event happen and then use that as an excuse to get high.
People who get bored in their recovery have gotten stuck. They have become abstinent, just saying no to the drug for a while, but have stopped growing in the recovery and developing social and life skills. People often say that addiction recovery is a journey process not a destination. process or journey means you are moving, arriving at a destination means you have stopped. That means that you must be moving forward all the time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going faster slow, you just can’t stop and get stuck and stay stuck. The most often quote from someone who has stopped growing and moving forward is:
I got this.
My sponsor said to me one time “Bill, if you want to relapse just don’t do anything.”
Living sober and sustaining a sober life actually means continued to personal growth. People who have long-term sobriety have mastered the skills of not using drugs and saying no to them. But, more importantly they have mastered the skills of exploring, trying new things, and enjoying life to the fullest.
Watch This Video - He Attacks Boredom From A New Angle And Nails It (5 minute video
The boredom relapse excuse is one of the most often talked about reasons addicts will give after the fact, when they return to drug use. The reality is that boredom in addiction recovery need not ever happen. If you find yourself sliding into that boredom mentality for goodness sake change your thinking. Tribe are being grateful for everything that you have. Remember the pain of using and the pain of stopping. There is an old saying that says “move a muscle change a thought”.
To alleviate boredom either change your thinking or do something.
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Some Really Good Resources
- Drugs, Brains and Behavior: The Science of Addiction (Drugabuse.gov) – In my opinion this is the best short read on addiction. I have used the content for many therapy groups and lectures…check it out.
- Lets Talk About Craving Cravings may have their beginnings outside conscious awareness.