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Teens Ask: What If I Get Bored in Rehab or Recovery?

Teenage boy with his hand at his face.

Do you get annoyed when parents, teachers or other adults tell you that you look bored when you’re on your smartphone? The truth is, you’re not bored at all because you’re texting with friends, maintaining your social media accounts, watching videos or doing something else that they may not understand.

Here’s the thing. If you’re recovering from substance use disorder, you may actually feel bored quite often. If you’re in rehab, you won’t have unfettered access to your phone, so you might worry about struggling with boredom.

Rehab Is No Vacation

Let’s start with rehab. Inpatient treatment may not be as boring as you might think.

That’s because when you are in rehab facilities, you stay very busy. Almost every waking hour is planned and scheduled with therapy sessions, support groups, presentations, classes, chores or recreational activities.

Here’s a link to a typical daily schedule for teens at a rehab facility. As you can see, the agenda is jam-packed between 7 am and 10 pm seven days a week. The goal is to keep you occupied as much as possible so that you have fewer chances to succumb to boredom, which is when your thoughts are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol.

But rehab isn’t all work and no play. There are numerous leisure activities available at specified times each week, such as:

  • Swimming
  • Walking or jogging
  • Basketball
  • Outdoor games
  • Weightlifting
  • Board games
  • Arts and crafts
  • Meditation
  • Movies

In fact, some guests at certain levels of care can enjoy an off-site activity (with supervision) at least once a week, and of course, visits from parents and other family members are permitted on a periodic basis.

Battling Boredom in Recovery

On the other hand, boredom is common among teens in recovery after they leave inpatient drug rehab (or among those who only enroll in outpatient treatment). Why?

Before rehab, you likely spent a lot of your time either acquiring your drug of choice, misusing it and hiding the consequences as best you could. After rehab, the time you used to spend on those activities can seem to just drag by without drugs or alcohol.

So, what can you do to battle boredom and stay on the right track?

Teenage girl with her arms crossed and hand on her face.

You can start by repeating affirming statements to yourself and learning to remain still despite experiencing uncomfortable feelings. Accomplishing these two objectives will go a long way toward reducing the urge to return to alcohol or drugs.

On a more practical level, you can look for activities to occupy your time, from reading books and keeping a journal to cooking meals or taking a class for fun. It’s also helpful to socialize with other people through volunteering, mentoring or playing sports. In addition, it’s also vital to exercise regularly and attend support groups or meetings; both of these actions help focus your mind and quash feelings of despair or inadequacy that push you back into drug misuse.

Throughout all of this, it’s important to keep in mind that a major component of recovery is allowing grief to run its course. After all, if you are in recovery, you must allow yourself to “mourn” the loss of your past lifestyle as part of accepting your new lifestyle. The key is to remain patient, take baby steps and concentrate on the potential and promise of a substance-free future.

In short, actively embrace the changes in your life that result from eschewing substance misuse and learning to live with your newfound sobriety. Doing this almost ensures that boredom won’t become a problem — because change, by its very nature, is never dull.

If you are a teen struggling with substance misuse, contact Next Generation Village today to talk about your situation with someone who can answer your questions and tell you about your options for getting help.

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