Boredom and addiction are closely linked, and understanding this connection is crucial in addiction recovery. Boredom, defined as the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest, can have negative effects on mental health and lead to risky behaviors.
The Sunshine Coast Health Centre shared some interesting insights about how boredom can affect relapse and recovery.
Columbia University published an article titled “Why Being Bored Can Be Hazardous to Your Health” that dived into some of the negative effects of boredom.
- Chronic boredom is associated with impulsivity and risky behavior, such as careless driving, compulsive gambling, drug and alcohol abuse, reckless thrill-seeking, and other self-destructive behaviors. It can also contribute to depression, anxiety, anger, academic failure, poor work performance, loneliness, and isolation.
- Individuals with ADHD may have a harder time tolerating monotony and may feel under-stimulated. Boredom is also a top predictor of addiction relapse. In a study of addicts at a methadone clinic, overcoming boredom was the only reliable factor that predicted whether they would stay on course.
- For individuals with a history of mental illness, neurodiversity, or addiction, boredom can have an even more significant impact. Allowing oneself to ruminate without a distractor that interests them can lead to extreme depression and overwhelming anxiety.
- To combat boredom and reduce the risk of addiction relapse, it’s important to find activities and interests that engage and stimulate you. This can include volunteering at local organizations, spending time outdoors, learning new skills, reading, joining community organizations, and exploring expressive outlets like painting, writing, or music.
In addiction recovery, it’s important to develop strategies to face triggers, including boredom, that could lead to relapse. Building a support system, engaging in meaningful activities, and addressing underlying mental health issues can help combat the restlessness of inactivity and reduce the risk of relapse.
Mental Health and Boredom
Boredom does not mean someone needs to be constantly entertained but it does mean they need an interest. If boredom exists for too long, a person could find ways to fill that time not for enjoyment but for the purpose of filling the hours and days. Boredom can have a more significant impact on some individuals than others.
Some individuals can suffer from extreme depression to overwhelming anxiety due to allowing themselves to contemplate too long without a distractor that interests them. In today’s day and age with technology at our fingertips and entertainment options by the dozens, boredom seems a far-fetched concern but it is important to remember that not all individuals find the same activities appealing and there is also something to be said about being overwhelmed with choices and things that provide “entertainment value”.
While technology plays a big role in our lives, finding something of interest can come in many forms.
- Volunteering at a local organization such as an animal shelter, food pantry, etc.
- Disconnect from everything by spending time outdoors biking or exploring natural parks.
- Take advantage of the learning platforms and resources available at your local library and learn a new skill.
- Start reading a good book or check out what your local library has to offer.
- Join community organizations or a local church.
- Explore expressive outlets to share how you are feeling. This can be painting, writing, music, or other art forms.
Ideas to Combat Boredom
Ohio and West Virginia provide multiple options to explore that are close to you and can be partaken when restlessness and the mundane starts to set in. Read more about some of the options below.
- Hocking Hills Hocking Hills State Park is a state park in the Hocking Hills region of Hocking County, Ohio, United States. In some areas the park adjoins the Hocking State Forest. Within the park are over 25 miles of hiking trails, rock formations, waterfalls, and recess caves. https://www.hockinghills.com/
- New River Gorge The New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is a unit of the United States National Park Service designed to protect and maintain the New River Gorge in southern West Virginia in the Appalachian Mountains. https://adventuresonthegorge.com/
- Gallipolis City Park The Gallipolis City Park is the site of the first settlement in Gallia County. Today it is host to many community events including the River Recreation Festival, Gallia County BBQ Festival and the Christmas Lights Display, Gallipolis in Lights. There are three Ohio Historical Site Markers placed around the park. Enjoy picnic tables and bench swings overlooking the Ohio River. https://visitgallia.com/gallipolis-city-park/
- Put-in-Bay Put-in-Bay is an Ohio village on South Bass Island in Lake Erie. Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial is a huge column commemorating the 1812 Battle of Lake Erie. Exhibits at the Lake Erie Islands Historical Museum explore area winemaking and ships. The lakeside South Bass Island State Park has a boat ramp and a stone beach. https://putinbay.com/
- Court Street Ministries Court Street Ministries is supported by volunteers to help provide food and clothing to the community. https://courtstreetministries.com/
- The Artisan Shoppe The Gallia County Artisan Market’s mission is to promote and educate arts and culture in the community. The provide a variety of classes that are open to the public. https://www.theartisanshoppe.org/classes
- Bossard Memorial Library The Bossard Memorial Library has a variety of events and activities. They range from reading groups, yoga, or learning a new craft like needlepoint. https://www.bossardlibrary.org/
Addiction recovery is precarious. It is important for our clients to build strategies to be prepared to face triggers that could lead them back to old habits. While boredom may not be the first trigger people face as they re-enter society, it is one that will be eventually faced. Coupled with mental health diagnoses such as depression or ADHD can make it even more difficult to combat the restlessness of inactivity.
Organizations such as Field of Hope and Gallia-Jackson-Meigs ADAMH Board work to try to help those who are lost in addiction and unsure where to go or who to turn to. At Field of Hope, we understand that there can be many obstacles when rebuilding a new life in recovery. You will not do this alone. We provide services for drug, alcohol, and gambling addiction recovery and mental health care. Caring staff will walk alongside you to help you put the pieces together from start to finish. Call us today at (740) 245-3051