Treating substance use disorder (SUD), the psychiatric condition formerly known as substance addiction, dependence, abuse, and other similar terms, is extremely challenging. People with SUD are strongly compelled to act against their own self-interest, and this compulsion may continue for months or years after they have last consumed their substance of choice.
Further complicating matters is that individuals tend to respond better or worse according to different treatment modalities and approaches. Today, programs for SUD tend to use one of dozens of different treatment models, many of which are in direct contradiction to each other.
However, for all their contradictions, almost all of these treatment models agree on the importance of developing a routine, particularly in the early phase of recovery. Virtually all substance rehabilitation programs today implement routines as part of SUD treatment.
Routines are not just important during rehab either. Cravings and substance use triggers may periodically come up throughout a person’s life, especially in the period right after rehab.
Below are some helpful daily habits that can help individuals with SUD make a more sustainable recovery. If you’re in New England and need help with an SUD, please check out this resource on Boston rehabilitation centers.
1) Making one’s bed
While it may seem like a small thing, making one’s bed in the morning can help one start the day off with a minor victory. This small win can help reinforce a recovering individual’s self-confidence and motivation to keep doing good habits throughout the day.
2) Meditation and mindfulness practices
Meditative practices are now widely agreed to be beneficial for helping individuals with SUD and other psychiatric illnesses. Practicing meditation and its close cousin mindfulness can allow an individual to improve their mental and emotional resilience over time. This can make it easier to do otherwise difficult tasks throughout the day and could be helpful in helping regulate emotions. It could also be a good way to complement conventional treatment approaches like cognitive-behavioral therapy.
3) Moderate exercise
Exercise is one of the oldest known effective ways to aid SUD recovery. Moderate exercise releases endorphins and other hormones responsible for creating a sense of well-being. It can also aid recovering individuals get a good night’s sleep, which can often be difficult early in recovery.
4) Eating on schedule
Preparing and enjoying nutritionally balanced meals on schedule can deliver a degree of normalcy to your day-to-day routine and can help keep you in shape. Eating at odd times can often result in excess calorie consumption and disrupted sleep schedules. These could leave one less healthy, which may ruin self-esteem, leaving one vulnerable to substance use triggers.
5) Doing a hobby one enjoys
Engaging in a hobby one enjoys for at least a few minutes a day can greatly improve one’s mood and well-being. Hobbies can also be an avenue for healthy socialization, which can also keep one motivated to stay sober.
6) Keeping hydrated
Staying hydrated can help one’s body detox and get rid of the last traces of drugs and other addictive substances. It also promotes optimal cell growth and regeneration, including in the brain. Proper hydration can therefore help recovering individuals’ brains heal faster, which means they may achieve a full recovery from SUD sooner than they would otherwise.
7) Plan your day
While making plans is obviously helps us make better use of our time, it has other benefits for people recovering from SUD. Writing out things can give individuals a sense of control and structure in their lives, both of which are often lacking in people with drug or alcohol problems.
Providing that they’re positive influences, regularly socializing with friends and family can give recovering individuals something to look forward to each day. These people could also be a source of support and encouragement that helps keep individuals sober.
9) Help others
There is some evidence to show that community work and volunteering can help with relapse prevention. Not everyone can do volunteer work but everyone can certainly try to help fellow humans in need.
Journaling day-to-day events can help one better contextualize their recovery. Compared to simply using one’s memory, journaling allows a more accurate picture of one’s progress and setbacks, which could be useful in selecting better strategies for one’s recovery.
11) Attend group meetings
Recovering individuals are often recommended or required to attend daily group therapy sessions, either after inpatient rehab or as part of an outpatient rehab program. Regular group therapy attendance during early recovery can often be critical in helping individuals control cravings and deal with emotional issues related to SUD.
12) Practice gratitude
There is strong evidence that shows that practicing gratitude regularly can rewire the brain and make it more attuned to happiness. Being happy in recovery can certainly help motivate individuals into seeing it through. The good thing is, practicing gratitude is free and becomes easier with time.
These are just a few of the daily habits that individuals recovering from SUD can try to improve their commitment to recovery. Cravings for drugs or alcohol can take months or years to subside, which makes practicing good habits all the more critical for ensuring complete recovery.
Having a routine has several benefits for people with SUD, particularly in the early phase of recovery. First, it provides a necessary distraction that buys time for the brain to heal. Second, it can give recovering individuals an immediate sense of purpose. Third, routines can help teach important skills that can continue to be useful throughout one’s life. Lastly, healthy routines can give recovering individuals feelings of accomplishment necessary for maintaining their motivation.
If you believe that you have an SUD or if you believe someone you know has one, please get in touch with a qualified treatment specialist.