About to Relapse? Think Like a Buddhist

About to relapse? Feel like you can’t hold out any longer? Try some simple Buddhist techniques to clear your head, soothe your soul, and gain a little of that serenity that we in recovery so dearly need.

Now, let me begin with a caveat. I am not a Buddhist and certainly not an expert on the religion or on meditation in general. I do practice certain Buddhist techniques, and I find them very helpful, especially in moments of temptation. I urge you to try these techniques – but to find full knowledge of them on your own, through readings or the teachings of someone more qualified than I.

So, disclaimer aside – here goes.

Photo: El PhotopakismoWe spend a lot of our lives living outside the moment, and as any Buddhist will tell you, this aint’ the path to happiness. We walk through life partially unaware, we are here, but our minds are elsewhere.

A great way to achieve some serenity in life is to train yourself to enjoy and appreciate your life, moment by moment. To literally stop and smell the roses, and just keep on smellin’ them!

Using the roses analogy as a starting point – lets imagine you are walking through a park on a lovely Indian summer Saturday. It’s beautiful, and pleasant, and you’re feeling alright. But you’re also stressing about a work presentation to come on Monday, wondering if the parking meter has expired, thinking about what you need to pick up at the store for dinner…etc. etc. You are in the park, but at the same time, your mind is elsewhere, and as a result you don’t enjoy the experience nearly as much as you would have if you had just been in the moment, and forgotten all your troubles and worries for a while.

And unfortunately, all that mental effort you expended to keep that internal dialogue running through your mind probably didn’t amount to much good at all. That work presentation is still coming, the parking meter was OK, or it wasn’t – and you will likely do just fine at the grocery store without a whole lot of preplanning. In fact, you’d probably do better on that presentation for giving your mind a rest and gaining a little clarity.

Without effort, we suffer a constant barrage of mindless internal dialogue. Our brain just seems to like to blather on to itself. Not much comes out of it, usually, but it’s all most of us know, and so we don’t think about it. Worse, for those of us struggling with sobriety, that voice inside our head seems determined to sabotage our efforts. The voice of addicted thinking, it tells us we can’t hold on any longer, argues that we could maybe have just one drink and runs a dialogue blaming someone or something else for how we’re feeling right now.

If you could just shut that voice up – you’d find you thought about taking a drink or a hit, or whatever, a whole lot less often.

Part of achieving serenity through Buddhism is accomplished by eliminating that voice inside your head, and enjoying the still and silence of your mind for a while, appreciating the moment you’re in for what it offers.

How to Silence the Voice

OK – so now, if you’re game – try a little experiment right now. Turn away from your computer screen for a sec, and just sit there, not thinking about anything, and see how long you can keep your inner voice silent for.

OK, so it’s not easy!

But it’s not as hard as you think either, it just takes a little practice, and there are some techniques you can use to help you stay focused.

Step 1

In this first step, you don’t even need to silence your inner voice; you just need to keep yourself focused on the present moment. You can get into a meditation position or whatever, but you don’t even need to do that, just sit somewhere comfortable, and start to think about this moment.

And not this moment as in around this moment, I mean this moment, second by second. Forget about anything that happened before this second, and don’t think about anything that’s coming after this second – just be. For this moment, don’t be a mom or a dad, don’t be a worker or a boss, don’t be a drunk or a junky – try to be nothing, to leave everything in your life behind. Take a break from all that, free from any responsibility or worry – this time is yours alone, and you deserve a little vacation. Use your senses, in this first stage, you don’t need to quiet your inner voice, you can still think to yourself about anything around you, but only as it comes.

  • Listen – to the noises in your environment.
  • Feel – think about the feeling of the ground on your feet, the sun on your face.
  • See – really look at what’s around you.
  • Smell – what does your environment smell like?

Just concentrate on your sensations as they arise, and try to stay focused on them for as long as you can. At first, you’ll find your mind wandering away frequently. Don’t worry, it’s normal, just bring it back to the present whenever that happens. The more you do this, the easier it gets, and the longer the intervals will be between wanderings. It’s a liberating experience to leave your worries behind for a while. Rarely is there anything very troubling in our immediate environment, and so this experience tends to be calming, and pleasant. It may sound boring, but really, it’s not at all – it’s a relaxing break.

Step 2

Once you get comfortable staying in the present for a while, perform the same exercise, but this time quiet the inner voice.

Feel the sun, but don’t commentate on it to yourself, just experience it. Hear the birds, enjoy the sounds, but don’t "think" about them Just be in the moment, free from worries, and in the silence of your mind. Again, at first it’s a bit tough to quiet the voice, but every time you start hear it, just turn it off, and refocus.

With practice you’ll find it easier to stay silent. Once you can do this, you’ll understand what I’m talking about here! It’s an amazing thing to be able to sit quietly, in peace, with no worries, and enjoy the experience without talking about it to yourself.

It is serenity embodied, and you will find it carries over into the rest of your day – leaving you less prone to stress and worry, and less prone to relapse provoking thoughts. And then whenever you do feel temptation arise – forget about day by day, tune out that voice for a while, live second by second for a bit – and when you return – you’ll feel a whole lot better, and that urge to drink; it will likely be gone.

These simple exercises will help you to stay sober, but more than that they teach you happiness. Live in the moment, enjoy what comes – and learn that a lot of what you worry about – what makes you miserable – is not as important as you think.

About to relapse? Feel like you can’t hold out any longer? Try some simple Buddhist techniques to clear your head, soothe your soul, and gain a little of that serenity that we in recovery so dearly need.

Now, let me begin with a caveat. I am not a Buddhist and certainly not an expert on the religion or on meditation in general. I do practice certain Buddhist techniques, and I find them very helpful, especially in moments of temptation. I urge you to try these techniques – but to find full knowledge of them on your own, through readings or the teachings of someone more qualified than I.

So, disclaimer aside – here goes.

Photo: El PhotopakismoWe spend a lot of our lives living outside the moment, and as any Buddhist will tell you, this aint’ the path to happiness. We walk through life partially unaware, we are here, but our minds are elsewhere.

A great way to achieve some serenity in life is to train yourself to enjoy and appreciate your life, moment by moment. To literally stop and smell the roses, and just keep on smellin’ them!

Using the roses analogy as a starting point – lets imagine you are walking through a park on a lovely Indian summer Saturday. It’s beautiful, and pleasant, and you’re feeling alright. But you’re also stressing about a work presentation to come on Monday, wondering if the parking meter has expired, thinking about what you need to pick up at the store for dinner…etc. etc. You are in the park, but at the same time, your mind is elsewhere, and as a result you don’t enjoy the experience nearly as much as you would have if you had just been in the moment, and forgotten all your troubles and worries for a while.

And unfortunately, all that mental effort you expended to keep that internal dialogue running through your mind probably didn’t amount to much good at all. That work presentation is still coming, the parking meter was OK, or it wasn’t – and you will likely do just fine at the grocery store without a whole lot of preplanning. In fact, you’d probably do better on that presentation for giving your mind a rest and gaining a little clarity.

Without effort, we suffer a constant barrage of mindless internal dialogue. Our brain just seems to like to blather on to itself. Not much comes out of it, usually, but it’s all most of us know, and so we don’t think about it. Worse, for those of us struggling with sobriety, that voice inside our head seems determined to sabotage our efforts. The voice of addicted thinking, it tells us we can’t hold on any longer, argues that we could maybe have just one drink and runs a dialogue blaming someone or something else for how we’re feeling right now.

If you could just shut that voice up – you’d find you thought about taking a drink or a hit, or whatever, a whole lot less often.

Part of achieving serenity through Buddhism is accomplished by eliminating that voice inside your head, and enjoying the still and silence of your mind for a while, appreciating the moment you’re in for what it offers.

How to Silence the Voice

OK – so now, if you’re game – try a little experiment right now. Turn away from your computer screen for a sec, and just sit there, not thinking about anything, and see how long you can keep your inner voice silent for.

OK, so it’s not easy!

But it’s not as hard as you think either, it just takes a little practice, and there are some techniques you can use to help you stay focused.

Step 1

In this first step, you don’t even need to silence your inner voice; you just need to keep yourself focused on the present moment. You can get into a meditation position or whatever, but you don’t even need to do that, just sit somewhere comfortable, and start to think about this moment.

And not this moment as in around this moment, I mean this moment, second by second. Forget about anything that happened before this second, and don’t think about anything that’s coming after this second – just be. For this moment, don’t be a mom or a dad, don’t be a worker or a boss, don’t be a drunk or a junky – try to be nothing, to leave everything in your life behind. Take a break from all that, free from any responsibility or worry – this time is yours alone, and you deserve a little vacation. Use your senses, in this first stage, you don’t need to quiet your inner voice, you can still think to yourself about anything around you, but only as it comes.

  • Listen – to the noises in your environment.
  • Feel – think about the feeling of the ground on your feet, the sun on your face.
  • See – really look at what’s around you.
  • Smell – what does your environment smell like?

Just concentrate on your sensations as they arise, and try to stay focused on them for as long as you can. At first, you’ll find your mind wandering away frequently. Don’t worry, it’s normal, just bring it back to the present whenever that happens. The more you do this, the easier it gets, and the longer the intervals will be between wanderings. It’s a liberating experience to leave your worries behind for a while. Rarely is there anything very troubling in our immediate environment, and so this experience tends to be calming, and pleasant. It may sound boring, but really, it’s not at all – it’s a relaxing break.

Step 2

Once you get comfortable staying in the present for a while, perform the same exercise, but this time quiet the inner voice.

Feel the sun, but don’t commentate on it to yourself, just experience it. Hear the birds, enjoy the sounds, but don’t "think" about them Just be in the moment, free from worries, and in the silence of your mind. Again, at first it’s a bit tough to quiet the voice, but every time you start hear it, just turn it off, and refocus.

With practice you’ll find it easier to stay silent. Once you can do this, you’ll understand what I’m talking about here! It’s an amazing thing to be able to sit quietly, in peace, with no worries, and enjoy the experience without talking about it to yourself.

It is serenity embodied, and you will find it carries over into the rest of your day – leaving you less prone to stress and worry, and less prone to relapse provoking thoughts. And then whenever you do feel temptation arise – forget about day by day, tune out that voice for a while, live second by second for a bit – and when you return – you’ll feel a whole lot better, and that urge to drink; it will likely be gone.

These simple exercises will help you to stay sober, but more than that they teach you happiness. Live in the moment, enjoy what comes – and learn that a lot of what you worry about – what makes you miserable – is not as important as you think.

Relapse – Can It Wait 10 Minutes? What to Do When You Really Want That Drink.

Anyone who quits drinking or drugging, no matter who they are or how determined they are, comes to a point in recovery when the cravings to use or drink just seem overwhelming. And a lot of people (when they hit this point) do take a drink, or ten or 50 – For a lot of people, this is the end.

The urge to drink or use drugs can consume us, and when it gets bad, we can think of little else.

It feels like these urges will never end. We doubt we’ll have the strength to fight them for long, and since we feel like we’ll never succeed in the end, we can think of nothing else but using and we feel a craving so strong it’s almost physical – a lot of us just give in to what feels inevitable anyway.

One of the hardest things about overcoming an addiction is dealing with the weight of a lifetime of sobriety.

Forever feels like a long time, and when things are hard, forever feels way too long. And it is for this reason, that there is real truth and strength in the AA mantra of one day at a time. Forget about staying sober for life, juts worry about today. Stay sober for today, and that’s good enough – and the great thing is, add enough of those "today’s" together, and it just gets easier after a while. When relapse threatens, when you’re having a really tough time, and when you’re two seconds away from taking that drink…even staying sober for the rest of the day can seem an impossible goal.

Break it down!

You don’t need to worry about staying sober for the rest of the say – just think about staying sober for the next 10 minutes! Anyone can delay a drink for five minutes.

Distract yourself, make yourself a sandwich, walk around the block once, do ANYTHING BUT DRINK.

Urges, even the strongest of urges, are transitory things, and they will pass. There may be another one coming down the pipes, but deal with it when it comes, just as you dealt with the last.

If you can wait 10 minutes, you will find that more often than not, the urge subsides, and things seem a little less crazy. Things get easier in time, and we all go through a rough patch every now and again. Don’t worry about tomorrow; think only of the here and now.

It seems too easy, but it works!

Anyone who quits drinking or drugging, no matter who they are or how determined they are, comes to a point in recovery when the cravings to use or drink just seem overwhelming. And a lot of people (when they hit this point) do take a drink, or ten or 50 – For a lot of people, this is the end.

The urge to drink or use drugs can consume us, and when it gets bad, we can think of little else.

It feels like these urges will never end. We doubt we’ll have the strength to fight them for long, and since we feel like we’ll never succeed in the end, we can think of nothing else but using and we feel a craving so strong it’s almost physical – a lot of us just give in to what feels inevitable anyway.

One of the hardest things about overcoming an addiction is dealing with the weight of a lifetime of sobriety.

Forever feels like a long time, and when things are hard, forever feels way too long. And it is for this reason, that there is real truth and strength in the AA mantra of one day at a time. Forget about staying sober for life, juts worry about today. Stay sober for today, and that’s good enough – and the great thing is, add enough of those "today’s" together, and it just gets easier after a while. When relapse threatens, when you’re having a really tough time, and when you’re two seconds away from taking that drink…even staying sober for the rest of the day can seem an impossible goal.

Break it down!

You don’t need to worry about staying sober for the rest of the say – just think about staying sober for the next 10 minutes! Anyone can delay a drink for five minutes.

Distract yourself, make yourself a sandwich, walk around the block once, do ANYTHING BUT DRINK.

Urges, even the strongest of urges, are transitory things, and they will pass. There may be another one coming down the pipes, but deal with it when it comes, just as you dealt with the last.

If you can wait 10 minutes, you will find that more often than not, the urge subsides, and things seem a little less crazy. Things get easier in time, and we all go through a rough patch every now and again. Don’t worry about tomorrow; think only of the here and now.

It seems too easy, but it works!

Remember Those Good Old Bad Times – and Don’t Relapse.

Remembering the good times…

We all do it, when we look back, we always seem to remember the good times; and those tough times (although remembered) don’t seem as vivid as those happy memories and good experiences. Parents remember those first few toddling steps with greater intensity than those sleepless nights, and we remember the friends and excitement of high school more than we do the social insecurity. It’s human nature, and for the most part, it’s a good thing. But for recovering addicts or alcoholics, this kind of nostalgic thinking gets us into trouble.

Relapse can happen for any number of reasons, but at the root of a lot of slips are a combination of overconfidence ("I’ve got this thing beaten now…a few drinks won’t hurt me anymore") and reminiscent thinking. Remembering all of the good times we had while drinking, all of the fun and laughs, and minimizing the negatives. Truly a dangerous mental combination for anyone in recovery!

If you quit drinking or drugging, you did it for a reason, probably a pretty good one. People don’t, as a rule, quit drinking or drugging until the negatives start to outweigh the positives, and outweigh them by a lot.

And while it’s true that getting drunk or high with friends, hitting the club or a sharing a bottle of good wine with dinner were sometimes very enjoyable, for those of us with substance abuse problems, there were terrors lurking beneath the surface, and we do well to remember these. Most of us don’t quit until we feel the pains of our addiction. We all have our personal reasons for making a change and change isn’t easy, it usually takes some pretty strong motivation to overcome our using inertia.

What made you stop? Now write it down.

Seriously, if you are in recovery, write down what made you decide you needed to stop. Make a list of the harms that your drinking or drugging was causing, the things that finally forced you to concede of a need for abstinence. And whenever the past starts calling, whenever those good times start to outweigh the pains in your mind’s eye, take a look at your list – and remember.

Here’s my list:

1…People were obviously losing respect for me, to my face, and that was very painful – especially painful because I knew that they were right to think less of me.

2…I was 60 pounds overweight, looked 10 years older than I was and every day I endured a terrible hangover. I was on pace for an early grave.

3…I was useless for my family; too hung-over in the day to play with my kids, to busy getting drunk at night to help out.

4…My business was suffering. I didn’t have the energy to make it better.

5…My kids were starting to notice what their dad was.

And there’s more of course, but that’s enough for me. I’ve got it written down, and whenever I start thinking of the past through rose colored glasses, I just have a quick read of my list (I’ve got it in my wallet!) and I remember. It’s uplifting too! Remembering the truth about how bad things were makes me truly grateful for how things are now – and it keeps me very motivated to never go back to what I was, and what I did.

Don’t fall into the trap. Make a list (and check it twice!) – You are better off now than you were when you were drinking or drugging. Don’t get fooled – stay sober, and stay happy.

Remembering the good times…

We all do it, when we look back, we always seem to remember the good times; and those tough times (although remembered) don’t seem as vivid as those happy memories and good experiences. Parents remember those first few toddling steps with greater intensity than those sleepless nights, and we remember the friends and excitement of high school more than we do the social insecurity. It’s human nature, and for the most part, it’s a good thing. But for recovering addicts or alcoholics, this kind of nostalgic thinking gets us into trouble.

Relapse can happen for any number of reasons, but at the root of a lot of slips are a combination of overconfidence ("I’ve got this thing beaten now…a few drinks won’t hurt me anymore") and reminiscent thinking. Remembering all of the good times we had while drinking, all of the fun and laughs, and minimizing the negatives. Truly a dangerous mental combination for anyone in recovery!

If you quit drinking or drugging, you did it for a reason, probably a pretty good one. People don’t, as a rule, quit drinking or drugging until the negatives start to outweigh the positives, and outweigh them by a lot.

And while it’s true that getting drunk or high with friends, hitting the club or a sharing a bottle of good wine with dinner were sometimes very enjoyable, for those of us with substance abuse problems, there were terrors lurking beneath the surface, and we do well to remember these. Most of us don’t quit until we feel the pains of our addiction. We all have our personal reasons for making a change and change isn’t easy, it usually takes some pretty strong motivation to overcome our using inertia.

What made you stop? Now write it down.

Seriously, if you are in recovery, write down what made you decide you needed to stop. Make a list of the harms that your drinking or drugging was causing, the things that finally forced you to concede of a need for abstinence. And whenever the past starts calling, whenever those good times start to outweigh the pains in your mind’s eye, take a look at your list – and remember.

Here’s my list:

1…People were obviously losing respect for me, to my face, and that was very painful – especially painful because I knew that they were right to think less of me.

2…I was 60 pounds overweight, looked 10 years older than I was and every day I endured a terrible hangover. I was on pace for an early grave.

3…I was useless for my family; too hung-over in the day to play with my kids, to busy getting drunk at night to help out.

4…My business was suffering. I didn’t have the energy to make it better.

5…My kids were starting to notice what their dad was.

And there’s more of course, but that’s enough for me. I’ve got it written down, and whenever I start thinking of the past through rose colored glasses, I just have a quick read of my list (I’ve got it in my wallet!) and I remember. It’s uplifting too! Remembering the truth about how bad things were makes me truly grateful for how things are now – and it keeps me very motivated to never go back to what I was, and what I did.

Don’t fall into the trap. Make a list (and check it twice!) – You are better off now than you were when you were drinking or drugging. Don’t get fooled – stay sober, and stay happy.

Drug rehab…do you really need yoga and aromatherapy?

People make enormous amounts of money providing drug and alcohol rehabilitation therapy to those in need, and although the vast majority of operators do run reputable facilities offering you a legitimate opportunity at sobriety, there are unfortunately some owners far more interested in banking your admissions check than spending that money on therapies and programs of value. Knowing that, shouldn’t you be concerned that a period of karate class is used as a cheaper substitute for individual therapy?

The value of peripheral programs in drug rehab

Addiction affects us on many levels, and no one as yet has a complete understanding of the totality of the disease. Traditional and conventional therapies do offer assistance to a great many, and treatments such as group support therapy, individual therapy, medication for relapse avoidance and individual therapy have proven themselves worthy and essential parts of any treatment regimen.

But more people fail than don’t.

Quality rehabs, offering intensive therapies and quality conventional care can only boast a success rate of about 40% (anyone advertising more than this should be regarded with skepticism) so there is still obviously room for great improvement. Additionally, no one form of therapy works well for everyone. We all bring our unique experiences and histories, as well as our emotional baggage with us into treatment, and what motivates one, does very little for another.

The two conclusions we must draw are that to offer the best chance of success the programming should be comprehensive and varied; and since traditional and conventional therapies do not yet offer a great likelihood of success, we need to supplement these therapies with additional forms of programming that have shown promise.

The interplay of the body, mind and soul

The complexity of the human condition causes enormous challenges for the treatment of addiction; and since addiction affects our bodies, our minds and our spirits in unique and influential ways, effective therapies need to be holistic in nature, and treat all parts of our being as one. Hard to quantify, and even to define, the influence of the soul has not traditionally affected the selection of therapies outside of religious facilities; yet our spiritual selves undoubtedly impact on our actions and our emotions…and it is in the treatment of the soul that alternative therapies such as yoga or meditation have shown tremendous promise.

Although exceedingly difficult to measure or understand, the soul does impact on success rates, and we can measure the effectiveness of certain therapies. Meditation and yoga have both been studied for use in addictions therapy, and both have been shown helpful; and as effective as group therapy in some studies.

Don’t go to yoga school for drug treatment

Ideally, you want it all. You want medications that help to control cravings, you want therapies that increase self awareness over those things that lead us to abuse, and you also want a spiritual element of programming, with classes that offer us greater peace and happiness, and by extension, less likelihood of relapse. Nothing works for everyone, and although you may find karate class a waste of time…you may not, and you may find that the intensive focus between mind and body offers something intangible yet of great value; something that may make the difference between taking that drink, and another day of struggle with the disease.

Choose a quality rehab

You do want a rehab that allows for family involvement and offers intensive one-on-one therapy, and you do want to stay in a facility that offers comfortable and private accommodations; but you may also want to consider a facility that attempts to provide a holistic experience. Spiritual programs should never substitute for effective conventional therapies, but when used as a compliment to traditional and well respected treatments, they offer you something of value.

Recovery from addiction is hard, and you need all the help you can get. The more comprehensive the experience the better chance you have at finding something that really resonates, really motivates, and is going to keep you sober when nothing else will. Don’t choose a rehab that offers karate instead of therapy; choose one that offers it after therapy.

People make enormous amounts of money providing drug and alcohol rehabilitation therapy to those in need, and although the vast majority of operators do run reputable facilities offering you a legitimate opportunity at sobriety, there are unfortunately some owners far more interested in banking your admissions check than spending that money on therapies and programs of value. Knowing that, shouldn’t you be concerned that a period of karate class is used as a cheaper substitute for individual therapy?

The value of peripheral programs in drug rehab

Addiction affects us on many levels, and no one as yet has a complete understanding of the totality of the disease. Traditional and conventional therapies do offer assistance to a great many, and treatments such as group support therapy, individual therapy, medication for relapse avoidance and individual therapy have proven themselves worthy and essential parts of any treatment regimen.

But more people fail than don’t.

Quality rehabs, offering intensive therapies and quality conventional care can only boast a success rate of about 40% (anyone advertising more than this should be regarded with skepticism) so there is still obviously room for great improvement. Additionally, no one form of therapy works well for everyone. We all bring our unique experiences and histories, as well as our emotional baggage with us into treatment, and what motivates one, does very little for another.

The two conclusions we must draw are that to offer the best chance of success the programming should be comprehensive and varied; and since traditional and conventional therapies do not yet offer a great likelihood of success, we need to supplement these therapies with additional forms of programming that have shown promise.

The interplay of the body, mind and soul

The complexity of the human condition causes enormous challenges for the treatment of addiction; and since addiction affects our bodies, our minds and our spirits in unique and influential ways, effective therapies need to be holistic in nature, and treat all parts of our being as one. Hard to quantify, and even to define, the influence of the soul has not traditionally affected the selection of therapies outside of religious facilities; yet our spiritual selves undoubtedly impact on our actions and our emotions…and it is in the treatment of the soul that alternative therapies such as yoga or meditation have shown tremendous promise.

Although exceedingly difficult to measure or understand, the soul does impact on success rates, and we can measure the effectiveness of certain therapies. Meditation and yoga have both been studied for use in addictions therapy, and both have been shown helpful; and as effective as group therapy in some studies.

Don’t go to yoga school for drug treatment

Ideally, you want it all. You want medications that help to control cravings, you want therapies that increase self awareness over those things that lead us to abuse, and you also want a spiritual element of programming, with classes that offer us greater peace and happiness, and by extension, less likelihood of relapse. Nothing works for everyone, and although you may find karate class a waste of time…you may not, and you may find that the intensive focus between mind and body offers something intangible yet of great value; something that may make the difference between taking that drink, and another day of struggle with the disease.

Choose a quality rehab

You do want a rehab that allows for family involvement and offers intensive one-on-one therapy, and you do want to stay in a facility that offers comfortable and private accommodations; but you may also want to consider a facility that attempts to provide a holistic experience. Spiritual programs should never substitute for effective conventional therapies, but when used as a compliment to traditional and well respected treatments, they offer you something of value.

Recovery from addiction is hard, and you need all the help you can get. The more comprehensive the experience the better chance you have at finding something that really resonates, really motivates, and is going to keep you sober when nothing else will. Don’t choose a rehab that offers karate instead of therapy; choose one that offers it after therapy.

What to do when Friday night mini put sounds lame, and the club is calling?

One of the greatest risk factors for relapse when initially recovering is boredom.

Without the internal fun of intoxication, it can be tough to know quite what to do with yourself. A recovering addict needs to plan for these leisure times, and have activities set up to stave of the boredom that can increase the cravings to use. It’s pretty tough at first, but like everything else, it get’s easier. The secret is to force yourself to do it, and even though the club may sound like more fun, bowling it shall be!

When you’re abusing, boredom isn’t much of an issue. Sure some days are more fun than others, and while high, you can sometimes have some great times, other times not; but basically the answer to fun comes in a bottle, or in a pipe or in a vial…and you don’t have to put much though into how to entertain yourself. With drugs and alcohol, all of the entertainment is internal, and although when people start using, the environment and situation is important, the farther use progresses, the less important the environment, and the more important the drug. Most people don’t start using cocaine in a crack house, but for a real junky with a bit of money, that’s a pretty good place to be.

So once you get sober, you’re left with a bit of a problem, and Friday night’s fun can’t simply be bought in a bag any longer. Boredom sounds like a trivial problem, but the boredom experienced when newly sober is a big issue, and greatly increases the risk of relapse. When you’re bored out of your mind, it’s easy to convince yourself that you can go to the party, you just won’t use, and from there…well it’s a slippery slope to say the least.

The boredom as experienced is partially real, and occurs as a result of having forgotten how to have fun without intoxication, and is also partially a result of your brain’s recovery from the damage of addiction. A lot of drugs can leave the brain a bit subdued, and while it’s not getting the regular doses of fun chemicals it’s accustomed to, it not yet making quite enough of its own. This will change in time, and the brain is remarkably able to recover from abuse, but during the initial period of sobriety, this can make things a bit tough.

So what can be done?

Sitting at home alone pacing is not a healthy response to boredom, and recovering addicts are trained that they need to make a plan for their leisure time, and fill it with rewarding, low risk activities. It can be difficult to stick to your plan once home and Friday night mini put starts feeling a little bit ridiculous, but it’s necessary to get out of the house, into the company of good and sober friends and family, and keep yourself busy, and while you’re at it, keep yourself sober.

The surprising thing is that what happens pretty quickly is that you start to really enjoy these hokey activities, and realize that it’s not what you do, but who you do it with and how you do it that’s important. You’ll start to look forward to Tuesday’s at the movies with Mom and that weekend walk in the woods with your best friend, and with time, you’ll realize that you are no longer doing these activities to keep yourself from using, but for the pure enjoyment of being sober and being in the company of people you love.

With time, it gets easier. You find some things you really enjoy doing, and your brain starts to recover from the effects of addiction. Make a plan and stick to it. Keep busy, and try to enjoy the company of friends and family. It gets easier, and it’s worth it.

One of the greatest risk factors for relapse when initially recovering is boredom.

Without the internal fun of intoxication, it can be tough to know quite what to do with yourself. A recovering addict needs to plan for these leisure times, and have activities set up to stave of the boredom that can increase the cravings to use. It’s pretty tough at first, but like everything else, it get’s easier. The secret is to force yourself to do it, and even though the club may sound like more fun, bowling it shall be!

When you’re abusing, boredom isn’t much of an issue. Sure some days are more fun than others, and while high, you can sometimes have some great times, other times not; but basically the answer to fun comes in a bottle, or in a pipe or in a vial…and you don’t have to put much though into how to entertain yourself. With drugs and alcohol, all of the entertainment is internal, and although when people start using, the environment and situation is important, the farther use progresses, the less important the environment, and the more important the drug. Most people don’t start using cocaine in a crack house, but for a real junky with a bit of money, that’s a pretty good place to be.

So once you get sober, you’re left with a bit of a problem, and Friday night’s fun can’t simply be bought in a bag any longer. Boredom sounds like a trivial problem, but the boredom experienced when newly sober is a big issue, and greatly increases the risk of relapse. When you’re bored out of your mind, it’s easy to convince yourself that you can go to the party, you just won’t use, and from there…well it’s a slippery slope to say the least.

The boredom as experienced is partially real, and occurs as a result of having forgotten how to have fun without intoxication, and is also partially a result of your brain’s recovery from the damage of addiction. A lot of drugs can leave the brain a bit subdued, and while it’s not getting the regular doses of fun chemicals it’s accustomed to, it not yet making quite enough of its own. This will change in time, and the brain is remarkably able to recover from abuse, but during the initial period of sobriety, this can make things a bit tough.

So what can be done?

Sitting at home alone pacing is not a healthy response to boredom, and recovering addicts are trained that they need to make a plan for their leisure time, and fill it with rewarding, low risk activities. It can be difficult to stick to your plan once home and Friday night mini put starts feeling a little bit ridiculous, but it’s necessary to get out of the house, into the company of good and sober friends and family, and keep yourself busy, and while you’re at it, keep yourself sober.

The surprising thing is that what happens pretty quickly is that you start to really enjoy these hokey activities, and realize that it’s not what you do, but who you do it with and how you do it that’s important. You’ll start to look forward to Tuesday’s at the movies with Mom and that weekend walk in the woods with your best friend, and with time, you’ll realize that you are no longer doing these activities to keep yourself from using, but for the pure enjoyment of being sober and being in the company of people you love.

With time, it gets easier. You find some things you really enjoy doing, and your brain starts to recover from the effects of addiction. Make a plan and stick to it. Keep busy, and try to enjoy the company of friends and family. It gets easier, and it’s worth it.