Why a Routine Can Make All the Difference in Early Recovery

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Many people are surprised to learn that they feel just as overwhelmed when they first leave treatment as they did when they first arrived. One would assume that a major burden would be lifted following treatment, but unfortunately, it often doesn’t work this way. Rather, recovering addicts tend to feel overwhelmed by their new reality and how to face it without their drug.

routine agenda for early recoveryPhoto Credit: FreeImages.com/DanielBranco

Benefits of Having a Routine

Having a detailed schedule is an excellent way to ease some of these concerns in early recovery. As long as the recovering addict doesn’t become too obsessive with the schedule, having one is a great asset. A few benefits of having a routine are:

  • Provides structure, comfort and familiarity
  • Offers stability in an uncertain time
  • Helps with adjusting to a new sleeping pattern
  • Promotes time for exercise
  • Encourages productivity
  • Prevents boredom and loneliness

Ideas of What to Include

As you transition your loved one home, you can be a positive influence on their recovery by helping them create a structured routine. Recognize that some days, you might have to deviate from the schedule, but in general, your loved one should try to follow it each day.

Below are some ideas for what should be included in the daily routine:

  • Wake up time
  • Bedtime
  • Meal times
  • Exercise
  • Personal hygiene
  • Daily meditation practice
  • Spiritual activities
  • Attendance at recovery groups
  • Chores around the home
  • Hobbies
  • Socializing
  • Family time/taking care of children
  • Writing in a daily journal

Making Sure the Routine is Healthy

A routine has many wonderful benefits, but it can cause problems. For instance, some recovering addicts become fixated on the routine and are uncomfortable with change. They may use the schedule to escape reality or place the routine ahead of spending time with others.

To prevent your loved one from becoming obsessive or dependent on their routine, start by creating a healthy one. It should avoid gaps where boredom might set in but still offer some flexibility. A beneficial routine should also be balanced and have a good mix of spiritual, physical and mental activities. Most importantly, a routine should be used and treated as a relapse prevention tool – not something to be a slave to.

The River Source offers a strong continuing care program as part of our addiction recovery services. We are happy to help our patients learn about the importance of establishing a healthy routine and how to create one in early recovery.