“Boredom is the root of all evil.”
– Søren Kierkegaard
For something that feels so slow and mundane, boredom is extremely effective at initiating action. For some of us, that action is something healthy and productive like exercise or getting a chore done. But for others, boredom can lead to drug use.
As your loved one transitions back to everyday life after addiction treatment, boredom is the number one risk to their recovery. Why? Because the solution to boredom for someone struggling with addiction isn’t as simple as just finding something more interesting to do.
In fact, there’s a lot more to boredom than meets the eye. In this article, we’ll take a look at what boredom is, dive into the psychology of boredom and examine why it can lead to a drug or alcohol relapse.
What is Boredom?
When we think of boredom, we immediately define it as having nothing to do. But scientists have started to dig even deeper to get a better understanding of what boredom actually is and how it affects us.
While there still isn’t a universally accepted definition of boredom, most researchers agree that it’s an unpleasant mental and emotional state that leaves you craving some sort of stimulation. This lack of stimulation can lead to behavioral problems, including drug use.
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The Psychology of Boredom
The study of boredom can be traced all the way back to the late 1880s, but it wasn’t until 100 years later that researchers really started to figure out how to identify and measure boredom.
While there is still a lot we don’t know about boredom, today’s research suggests that boredom is a trigger for issues like binge-eating and drug abuse and can manifest more often in those who have suffered from severe head trauma.
With greater study into boredom, we now know many of the reasons for why we feel bored. Just a few of them include:
- Monotonous Activity: Doing too much of the same thing over and over again leaves a person craving for something more stimulating. For those recovering from addiction, monotonous activity can remind them of how exciting and fun it was to drink or do drugs.
- Novelty Cravings: Someone who is more extroverted needs higher levels of excitement from things like extreme sports in order to avoid feeling bored. Without a proper outlet, these types of sensation-seeking people turn to more risk-taking behaviors like drug use to feel good.
- Attention Deficits: Those who have trouble paying attention and concentrating experience higher levels of boredom. If your loved one had struggled with paying attention before treatment, it’s safe to guess that at least part of the reason they turned to drugs was because it held their attention and kept them engaged. Now in recovery, it’s important for your loved one to manage their attention deficit issues and participate in healthy activities that do hold their attention.
- Lack of Emotional Awareness: When we’re bored, we can typically identify why we’re feeling what we’re feeling and determine what we want to do next to remedy our boredom. For someone prone to addiction, there may be a lack of emotional awareness that prevents them from working through their boredom in a constructive way. This can trigger the desire to return to drinking or drug use.
How to Help Your Loved One Avoid a Relapse from Boredom
Part of the addiction treatment process is identifying bad habits and developing new coping skills and techniques that improve attention and emotional awareness. But even if your loved one did experience all this during treatment, it takes a lot of energy and focus to put those learnings into practice to maintain a sober lifestyle.
Luckily, there are some easy ways for your loved one to cope with boredom that don’t require drugs and alcohol. You can also help your loved one keep their recovery on track by taking part in new hobbies or activities together, and by making yourself available to talk to when they’re feeling bored or are tempted to use drugs or drink again.
But if your loved one has already relapsed due to boredom and impulsive behaviors, help them get back on track by getting them help at a credible addiction treatment center like The Raleigh House.
Your Loved One Can Recover from Addiction at The Raleigh House
If your loved one has relapsed, there’s hope to get their recovery back on track. After all, relapse is just a part of the recovery process and simply means your loved one needs to refine their coping skills and resilience to addiction cravings.
At The Raleigh House, we can help your loved one get to the bottom of why they relapsed and develop the techniques and support they need to continue living a sober and happy life. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs.