5 Ways to Create Sober Routines in Recovery

Part of recovering from an addiction to amphetamine or other substance is developing new routines that will support physical and psychological health and aid in the maintenance of sobriety. Routines help people practice behaviors until they become habitual. When routines are in place, making healthy choices about how to spend time and energy becomes easier.

Focus on Recovery Goals

Your recovery goals may change slightly as recovery progresses, but core issues will remain constant. Goals may include physical and neurological recovery, developing a recovery support system, avoiding relapse triggers, restoring relationships, and developing new, substance-free leisure activities.

With goals in mind, make a list of behaviors that help you achieve them. Physical healing, for example, can be supported by waking and sleeping at regular hours to make sure you get adequate rest and eating at regular times to make sure nutritional needs are met. Some sort of regular exercise is also helpful. Regularly attending support group meetings is a logical way to develop a support system and avoiding relapse triggers can involve spending time with sober friends, and staying away from places where you used to use. Romantic relationships may be strengthened with a regular date night and developing new leisure activities can involve joining a club or finding a new hobby.

Some activities will serve multiple purposes. Many recovery support groups provide not only support, but also education and social gatherings. Activities involving aerobic exercise can help with physical healing, emotional regulation, and also relapse prevention. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports on 2012 animal studies finding that aerobic exercise reduced cocaine-seeking behavior. Making sure to get adequate sleep is also helpful for both physical healing and relapse prevention. A 2007 article in the Journal of Addictive Diseases reports that sleep disturbances increase the relapse risk in people recovering from alcohol dependence.

Make a Plan for Behaviors and Activities

When activities are selected, decide how frequently they need to be practiced. Some elements of a personal routine, such as those associated with eating and sleeping, need to be practiced daily. Some things may become part of a weekly routine, such as attending a service to promote spiritual growth or shopping for healthy food at a farmer’s market. You may decide that some activities, such as working out at a gym should be engaged in a few times a week. Because both fatigue and boredom can be relapse triggers, it is important to find the balance between too much free time and being overscheduled.

Make Your Routine Easy to Follow

This means taking care of logistical details in advance. If support group attendance, for example, requires transportation or childcare, make sure that has been arranged. It may be easier to follow a sleeping and waking routine by adding blackout blinds to the windows or utilizing white noise.

Especially in the beginning, when new routines are being established, it is wise to utilize reminders. These may include visual cues, such as dates and times written on a calendar, or digital aids, such as smartphone alarms. Accountability can be helpful, as well. Telling a mentor to call you when you miss a support group meeting, for example, can keep you on track.

Evaluate Your Progress

Frequently ask yourself how you are doing at keeping your routines. Are they helping you to reach your goals? Because people who have suffered from substance addiction may be more likely to develop process or behavioral addictions, evaluating progress should include making sure that activities such as eating, exercising, or playing video games are not becoming obsessions. Red flags include obsessive thoughts about the activity and the development of negative consequences associated with the behavior. Almost any activity can become problematic. A 2010 article in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse discusses tanning as a behavioral addiction.

Be Flexible and Make Changes when Necessary

As healing progresses and basic routines become habitual, new goals can be set and new routines added to support them. New goals may be related to such things as educational or vocational pursuits.

Interests may also change and develop. Sometimes, when people’s lives have been consumed with addiction, they discover that they have forgotten or never developed interest in other things, and it can take a while to find new hobbies and activities that are enjoyable and the right fit. Anhedonia, or the inability to enjoy normally pleasurable activities, is also very common in early recovery. This is due to the depletion of dopamine and other neurotransmitters. Patience is needed as the brain and body heal, but at some point people may decide that a new way to meet recovery goals would be a better fit for them.

We Can Help

If you or someone you love is struggling with amphetamine addiction and ready to start a recovery journey, give us a call. We understand the issues, can answer your questions, and can help you find the treatment program that is the best fit for you. We can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. The helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. Call now and begin your journey to freedom.