If there is one thing that many people don’t expect when entering addiction treatment, it is the vast amount of free time that they are walking into. Drug abuse and dependence takes up a hefty amount of time. Finding something to do with your new free time, and developing healthy relationships to replace the time spent using or acquiring drugs will help get you on the right path towards recovery.
For many people, the onset of drug abuse and dependence is slow. It might have happened over the course of months or years. As time goes by you start developing relationships with others who enjoy using as much as you do. Perhaps you spend more time at bars or house parties where abusing drugs or alcohol becomes the social norm. You may slowly disengage from other friends and family members as your time becomes swept away with drug habits.
When you set out to make big changes in your life, you must expect to experience external pressure from those you frequently abused substances with. Current friends may feel uncomfortable around you now that you have decided not to drink, and the places where you spent the bulk of your time might make staying abstinent difficult.
You may find yourself in the market for a new group of friends, or maybe a new hobby. Here are a few suggestions to fill your calendar and avoid dangerous social situations:
- Seek out a new community: There are plenty of community resources you can use to connect with likeminded others. Churches, community centers and addiction recovery self-help programs are all great places to meet people.
- Try a new hobby: Woodworking, knitting, painting, writing, fishing—these are all healthy hobbies that can take up a decent amount of time. Try starting a hobby that always intrigued you.
- Call up old friends: Try rebuilding once-healthy relationships you let collapse. This might include family members, old roommates or former friends.
- Change work shifts: If working the night shift puts you in contact with people and behaviors you are trying to avoid, seek out a new shift or a new place of employment. Working during the day and sleeping at night can help keep you away from old habits.
- Exercise: Channel your desire to abuse substances into your health and get a gym membership. When you don’t know what else to do, try working out.
Now is your chance to restore old relationships and develop new hobbies that will keep you mentally engaged while filling your calendar with healthy ways to spend time. Of course, doing this is easier said than done. Try adopting some of the healthy habits suggested above, or explore your own interests. The best thing is to fill your free time with something that will prevent boredom and keep your recovery a priority.