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August 19, 2019
Active addiction can infiltrate every aspect of one’s life and occupy a significant amount of time and mental energy When an individual is in the throws of addiction, their life revolves around substance usage and the negative side effects in a conscious or unconscious way. The people they spend time with, their work and academic schedules, leisure time, lack of schedule are all impacted by substance use. The recovery process involves an examination of the way that your life was constructed during active use and rearranging the aspects that may not work in sobriety. Many times, a sober individual needs to add in time for their recovery, mental health treatment and self-care time to their schedules. It can also be important to add in stress management activities in order to compensate for the role that an addictive substance may have played in self-medication. Drinking and using drugs is a short-cut towards coping with stress, and it takes more time to embrace substance-free alternatives.
The In-Home Addiction Treatment (IHAT) Institute has the ability to train addiction treatment providers in evidence-based tools for supporting clients in creating a balanced behavioral schedule. Working with individuals in their home is a major advantage. Treatment teams are able to observe schedules and work/life balance in real time as well as help them to make the necessary adjustments in order to obtain long-term recovery. This includes subtle changes throughout the early sobriety process as well as educating family members about the necessity of these schedule changes.
The following are strategies for creating a balanced behavioral schedule:
- Create a pie chart of your recovery and self-care activities that totals 100% and adjust it as needed
- Use Google Calendars, a calendar app on your phone or even a paper planner to organize your weekly schedule
- Invite loved ones to add calendar events and vice versa so that you are aware of each other’s schedules
- Schedule in self-care and recovery meeting time
- Just say “no” to excessive and unnecessary activities, or those that may not support recovery
- Learn to do “nothing,” as being too busy can be a distraction from sitting with yourself
- Experiment and try different schedules for your week to see what works best
- For everything that you add to your schedule, remove something that is not valuable from it as well
- If you need to add more into your schedule, be sure to add activities gradually to avoid feeling overwhelmed and “all or nothing” thinking.
- Strive for moderation in all activities in order to increase chances of maintaining them
The most important aspect of creating schedules is to carve out time at the beginning of the week to review the week ahead and begin to build a routine. The scheduling changes may be small, but every change is a move towards building a healthy life in recovery.
By Sarah Allen Benton, LMHC, LPC