Substance abuse recovery is one of the toughest challenges for anybody to face in their lives (should they struggle with something like addiction). Learning how to adjust to common stressful situations without using alcohol or drugs to cope is a trial of its own. This is because substances of abuse are an easily accessible vice to use when the overwhelming force of life takes you over.
It’s because of all of this that the right amount of preparation and organization helps someone in recovery; when a person knows there’s a plan, it makes the trials of recovery a lot easier. As a result, a successful experience will ensue, and long-term sobriety will come to fruition. There are many ways to structure one’s recovery, some of which include the following:
- Sleep schedule
- Support groups and therapy
Learning the importance of incorporating structure in each of these ways can help ensure lasting recovery and freedom from addiction.
Developing a Healthy Sleep Schedule
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Those who suffer from sleeping issues and a substance use disorder have a greater chance of experiencing a relapse. The worst part about this is that some of the side-effects of withdrawal include insomnia and other sleep-related issues, which are common in early recovery. The good news, however, is that if one can manage their sleep schedule and fight through, they’re destined for a successful recovery.
When it comes to sleep, it is important to go to bed and wake up at the same time consistently (regardless of whether or not someone is suffering from a substance use disorder). This allows people to develop healthy sleeping habits. Following a consistent pattern like this is imperative to a successful recovery. It might be extremely difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep initially, but eventually, if you are committing to the schedule, the body and mind will adjust, allowing you to feel well-rested and less irritable.
Meditation During Recovery
Meditation is a tool most often used in holistic treatment. This tool has been proven successful in many recovery journeys. Starting meditation, like any other unfamiliar activity, is awkward and difficult for those who are new to the practice. However, this practice helps individuals maintain focus and concentration in otherwise chaotic situations.
The good part about meditation is that regardless of where you start, you don’t have to be an expert to develop a healthy routine of meditation. This is all unique to the individual. Some studies have found that as little as two months of daily meditation goes a long way in helping individuals develop a sense of tranquility. Not only that but those who have done this also develop better retention skills. You don’t have to meditate for hours; ten minutes a day can make a huge difference.
Support Groups and Therapy
Therapy and support groups are great tools for substance abuse treatment. Going to these meetings regularly helps promote consistency and healthy routines. Some support groups include the following:
- SMART Recovery
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
- Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
- Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)
Support groups and the general group therapy umbrella allows individuals to connect. This is extremely helpful when recovering from substance use disorder because it allows those with a common struggle to overcome their hurdles together. Not only does this help people develop structure, but it also helps others get to know you on a more intimate level. When people know you in this regard, you’re able to keep each other accountable.
Using Fitness to Establish a Routine
Fitness is a great way to develop structure in the life of any individual. There are many benefits to exercising regularly including the release of endorphins while being physically active. Some people are intimidated by fitness because of the physical exertion and commitment behind it. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Whatever somebody decides to implement in their daily routine should be something that fits comfortably in their lives. With fitness, in particular, should be an activity that brings individuals peace and enhances their quality of living. Fitness should never be something that a person doesn’t look forward to. There are many ways to practice fitness that won’t break your spirit, like stretching, yoga, or even a ten-minute walk. The most important aspect of all of this is to practice consistency.
Involving Nutrition in Your Routine
There’s no doubt that whatever you put into your body matters. If someone eats junk, they’re going to feel like junk; if they don’t have a consistent eating routine, they will most likely feel the effects of that in their mind and body. The foods people consume fuel their bodies and mind. In a substance abuse treatment program, this has the potential to be a make or break aspect of their experience. When detox has a person feeling depleted, the body must receive the nutrients it needs so that it can perform at its best level.
What’s the Best Way to Practice Healthy Nutrition in Recovery?
When it comes to consuming the right foods, the concept can be intimidating. What’s best for one person’s body may not be best for another, but there are a few truths that everyone can stick to regardless of where they’re at in their nutritional journey.
For example, consuming a healthy amount of protein is imperative. Not only that, but fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals that can make a huge difference in one’s overall health. Developing healthier eating habits can also help people in other areas such as sleep and energy.
Self-Care in Recovery
Self-care is a word that gets thrown around in many conversations. But what does it mean to practice healthy self-care? When practicing self-care, it’s important to participate in activities that boost your energy and fill your soul. Feeling more positive and refreshed is the ultimate goal of self-care.
Caring for oneself may vary for different individuals as far as the liturgy of it is concerned. For example, some people commit to exercising while others may play music as an emotional outlet. Some other practices could include reading a book, going to the movies, or even something as simple as eating.
What Should I Do If I’m Not Good at Being Structured?
Sometimes, individuals have a hard time keeping to a schedule. Maintaining structure is not everyone’s strong suit; sticking to a schedule may be difficult for some individuals. For these people, it could be easier to start small. Typical morning activities such as brushing your teeth, showering, making your bed, or eating breakfast are all great places to start. If a person can commit to something small initially, they can work their way up to an overall more structured life.
It’s easy to become discouraged when trying to manage one’s life better. But, these things can’t happen overnight. Patience is the true key to developing structure in life; it’ll take time to adjust to a routine while maintaining positivity. It is imperative in these times to spend time learning and allowing oneself a margin for error.
Why are Routine and Structure Important in Recovery?
In every stage of life, regardless of experience, age, or gender, there are challenges that everyone faces daily; this is especially true when making a transition from one place to another. Change is an overwhelming circumstance to endure. This, however, doesn’t mean it can’t be adjusted to. Structure and predictability help in these situations.
Patterns, predictability, and routine will help individuals participating in substance abuse recovery prioritize success. This is done by encouraging healthy coping mechanisms for those who would otherwise never know how to cope properly. This leads to a healthier life both during and after recovery.
The Benefits of Routine and Structure
Establishing rhythm is imperative to predicting outcomes and adjusting behavior. This is a skill that cannot afford to be lost. Implementing a routine helps people establish rhythms. When someone can predict their behaviors, it helps them learn more about themselves and the motivation behind some of their behaviors.
Setting routines and establishing structure is sort of like programming your body to respond in certain ways to situations that would otherwise trigger destructive behavior. As a result of developing this predictability, one’s internal clock anticipates healthy behaviors, such as self-care or productivity.
The Body and Brain
One’s mental health is largely dependent on how healthy one body is. For example, if someone is deficient in sleep or nutrition, they may feel run-down or an extreme lack of energy. This makes it difficult for the mind to think positively or respond appropriately to the different challenges that life has to offer.
The relationship between the body and the brain is an interesting one. They work together to initiate and reinforce behavioral patterns. Both of these must be taken into consideration before establishing a new routine.
When someone becomes unstructured, both the body and brain become restless and bored, making it extremely difficult to manage one’s recovery. Establishing routine and structure in recovery will allow individuals to fill their time in healthy ways, allowing the body and mind to successfully navigate their recovery journey.
Take the First Step Today!
It’s not easy to develop structure and routine, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. At Free By The Sea, you won’t have to do it alone. We have the facilities and programs that may be the best fit for you. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance use disorder and would like to learn more, you can contact us here.
Dr. Richard Crabbe joined our team in 2019 as our psychiatrist and medical director. He attended the University of Ghana Medical School where he became a Medical Doctor in 1977. From 1978 through 1984, he was a medical officer in the Ghana Navy and provided a variety of services from general medicine to surgeries. He received his Certificate in General Psychology from the American Board of Psychology and Neurology in 2002.