Many people mistakenly associate the word routine with an activity that is boring and repetitive.…
The Importance of Stability and Routine in Recovery
At good residential treatment centers, the staff and management understand that their patients are frightened about the future and uncertain if they’ll be able to overcome their chemical dependency.
But there are no miracle cures: sobriety and the activities that support it are habits that must be developed gradually and with consistent effort.
Routine and stability are cornerstones of this organized approach to recovery from addiction. The rehab regimen at residential treatment centers can get you started in a positive direction, but once you leave treatment it will be up to you to continue using healthy coping mechanisms and habits to preserve your commitment to sustainable sobriety, personal growth and self-improvement.
Tips for Bringing Good Routines to Your Life and Recovery
Routine and stability work because they are perfect antidotes to the chaos and disorder that accompany substance abuse. When you establish productive behaviors and habits, your daily routine becomes your oasis, the place where you go to escape the craziness that used to dominate your existence.
To keep your recovery on track, here are some guidelines for creating health- and life-affirming routines:
• Rely on a detailed, written schedule.
If your commitment to recovery is general and non-specific you’ll be giving yourself an excuse not to stay disciplined or focused.
• Leave no gaps.
Your written schedule should cover every moment from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep at night. Rest and relaxation are good, but schedule them just as you schedule everything else.
• Make choices that promote wellness of mind, body and spirit.
Activities like exercise, meditation, nature walks, reading self-help books, play time with friends and family, cooking nutritious meals and, of course, regular attendance at therapy sessions or peer group meetings should dominate each day’s daily schedule.
• Exclude passive behaviors or hobbies.
If you plan to set aside time for the Internet or TV watching, keep it limited and focused on the essential, such as watching favorite programs or doing work-related research online. Aimless absorption in digital distractions promotes boredom and depression, each of which can sabotage sobriety.
• Reserve time for friends, family members and pets but exclude enablers.
Spending time with loved ones will lift your spirits, and they deserve your attention after putting up with your substance abuse-related absences for so long. On the other hand those who brought negative energy to your life, or shared in your substance abuse, will only drag you back down.
• Practice moderation and balance in all things.
Don’t concentrate too much on any one type of activity, no matter how pleasant or constructive you might think it is. Do this and you might develop new obsessions or addictions to replace drugs or alcohol, which keeps you in an unsound state of mind.
• Keep your schedule flexible and open to change.
Plan things out for a couple of weeks in advance, but don’t go any farther than that. You should leave room to adjust to new situations or circumstances. You don’t want your new routines to eventually turn into a regimented prison (the temptation to escape with drugs or alcohol may become overwhelming).
Routine and Stability as Strategies for Winning
A healthy routine and stability are hallmarks of achievement in any area of life. Further, you can’t accomplish much of anything without a strong plan of action.
Recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction is no different. The organized approach to healing taught in residential treatment centers should set an example of healthy routines, stability and positive behaviors that will serve you for the rest of your life.