Understanding Substance Use Recovery and Its Challenges
The journey of recovery from substance use disorders is multifaceted and often challenging. A significant part of this challenge stems from the newfound surplus of time that individuals in recovery suddenly find themselves confronted with (SAMHSA, 2018). During active addiction, much of one's day revolves around procuring and using drugs, leaving little room for other activities. In recovery, however, this structure dissolves, giving way to a void that can be overwhelming and a potential relapse trigger.
Time Management in Recovery
Proper time management is a crucial factor in successful recovery. A study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA, 2012) noted that unstructured time can significantly increase the risk of relapse for individuals in recovery. The monotony and emptiness can become triggers for substance use, driving people back to old habits to fill the void.
Therefore, it is crucial to keep busy and foster a structured lifestyle. This can create a sense of normalcy and control over one's life, promoting a healthier mindset and decreasing the risk of relapse (NIDA, 2012).
Constructive Activities in Recovery
There are various ways to occupy your time productively during recovery. Here are some suggested activities:
- Exercise: Physical activity is a natural mood booster, helping to decrease feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress, which are common in recovery (NIDA, 2014). Establishing a regular exercise routine can help fill time while promoting overall health and wellbeing.
- Education: Pursuing education or learning new skills can be an effective way to spend time and enhance personal growth (SAMHSA, 2020). This could include attending local college classes, pursuing online learning, or learning a new hobby or craft.
- Volunteering: Volunteering provides a sense of purpose and community connection, which are essential components of recovery (ASAM, 2018). Many organizations offer opportunities to give back, which can keep you busy and improve your sense of self-worth.
- Employment: Securing a job can provide a regular routine and sense of responsibility, both of which can support recovery (SAMHSA, 2020). Many employers are understanding of recovery situations and provide necessary support.
- Meditation and Mindfulness: These practices can help manage stress, promote relaxation, and improve mental health (NIDA, 2014). Dedicate time each day to mindful activities such as yoga, meditation, or simple breathing exercises.
Therapeutic Strategies for Time Management
Apart from the above activities, some therapeutic strategies can help manage time in recovery. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be an effective tool, teaching individuals to identify and manage triggers that could lead to relapse (NIDA, 2018). This technique can help to devise a personalized time management plan.
Support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous, also offer structure and community support, assisting individuals in establishing a routine that supports sobriety (ASAM, 2018).
Filling the Void with Meaningful Engagement
In the context of substance use recovery, it's essential to replace previous unhealthy habits with new, constructive ones. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM, 2018) stresses that the goal should not merely be to fill time but to engage in meaningful activities that promote personal growth, well-being, and a positive mindset. This includes establishing relationships, pursuing hobbies or interests, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The challenge of finding new ways to occupy time during recovery should not be underestimated. However, with the right strategies and commitment, it's possible to constructively fill this void, creating a healthier, balanced lifestyle conducive to sustained recovery.
At MATClinics, our case managers are expert in coaching patients through the early stages of recovery.
Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410.220.0720.
American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). (2018). What is Addiction?.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2014). Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2018). Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (Alcohol, Marijuana, Cocaine, Methamphetamine, Nicotine).
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2018). Recovery and Recovery Support.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2020). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.