When we first begin to live life after addiction, we may discover a hole in us that the addiction used to fill, whether it was the way we were treated in the past, that we had low self-esteem, or just wanted to avoid bad feelings. Regardless of the reasons, we used drugs and alcohol to fill that hole and without our drug of choice, that hole is back. It is up to us to fill that seemingly endless void with positive things and not fall back into the trap of our old addiction.
As strange as it may sound, it’s important to first mourn the loss of a past addiction. For a while, that addiction was our best friend, always there when we needed it and we got through the day together. Giving up that vice means also giving up certain friends and places where we used to hang out, among other things. We need to recognize the loss. Only then is it time to replace that loss with other things that can get us from day to day, drug-free.
Boredom is dangerous
Boredom is a very dangerous feeling for an addict. It gives us time to think, to let our minds wander back to the days when we were using, possibly triggering a relapse. It is important to keep busy, all day, every day. Staying busy and finding new interests may take a little work at first, but eventually it will be easier to fill our days with activities we enjoy and can maintain as part of a routine. Remember: routine is critical to staying abstinent.
Fill the Void Left by Addiction with People and Things We Love
A great way to start filling that void is to re-establish old friendships that may have been lost on the path to addiction. We need to surround ourselves with the kind of people who will support us, help us, and make us feel cared for and loved.
This is also a good time to mend fences with family and friends. Doing this will make us feel better about ourselves, because we are righting wrongs that we may have caused as a result of our addiction.
There are many activities we can pick up as well. Making a to-do list, for example, and adding to it as we scratch things off can keep a constant stream of activities going from day to day and add in an important sense of accomplishment. Some more relaxed examples include hanging back, playing video games, reading, or doing crossword puzzles. Being more proactive might mean starting a blog and making a new entry every day; this certainly takes time and effort. We can also do volunteer work, play sports, take a class, or learn to cook. There are endless possibilities to ensure we don’t fall into the dangerous pit of boredom.
No matter what we do, staying busy with some type of constructive activity and surrounding ourselves with healthy relationships is a key component to staying sober and not letting old triggers creep back into our lives. Maintain realistic expectations and remember: Getting and staying sober is a process, a marathon; it is not a sprint.