Creating a flexible schedule to help with addiction recovery
After escaping an abusive relationship with drugs or alcohol, establishing a sense of structure is key. One way to accomplish this is to set up a personal schedule. Habit is an integral ingredient of a growing addiction, so why not harness its power for recovery instead?
According to Clinical Psychologist Steven C. Altabet, Ph.D., an effective timetable should not simply be sturdy, but adaptable as well. He said, “Schedules are most effective when they are consistent with the person’s abilities (e.g. using pictures for those who communicate nonverbally) and the schedule is reviewed with the person prior to starting the activity.”
Altabet and a group of other reputable experts in the treatment field all attest to how a flexible schedule benefits recovery. They also suggest the following guidelines for managing time:
- Keep things tentative at first: When transitioning into a sober lifestyle, an individual may not hit all of his or her goals right away. In addition, personal needs will change over time. Use the initial 90 days of recovery to troubleshoot problems that arise and revise as necessary
- Build a hierarchy of needs: On a daily basis, list responsibilities and other bare necessities that will maintain wellness. These can consist of having meals, taking medication, practicing meditation or checking in with a loved one or professional. A recovering individual can return to these basic needs if any personal disruptions take place
- Allot specific times to focus and relax: Allowing for moments of leisure can manage stress levels and add a well-needed sense of balance to one’s life. The best strategy is to make recreation an activity too, as gaps of free time can lead to boredom, complacency and relapse
- Create daily, weekly and monthly schedules: In addition to planning things day by day, it is also important to be aware of special events in the future like family trips, holidays and doctor appointments. Being mentally and physically prepared for these breaks in routine will eliminate excess stress and the potential of relapsing
- Have impromptu activities ready for cravings: Cravings may be recurring, but they only last a certain amount of time. When these urges occur, it is important to distract and occupy the mind with placeholder or filler activities to kill time
- Plan for crises: Unlike the other parts of a recovery plan, a crisis plan is given to one’s support system such as friends and family. This allows others to help when a person loses track of his or her own schedule. Be sure to list personal needs clearly and share them with reliable individuals
“You should carefully consider just how much time you will devote to each of the activities and responsibilities that make up your daily and weekly routines … By consciously and deliberately scheduling your time, you can make sure that you include all the healthy, helpful habits and routines you need to assist you in your sobriety,” said Rita Milios, LCSW and substance abuse professional.
If you or a loved one struggle with time management after addiction, contact Sovereign Health, a behavioral health treatment provider, for extra support and structure. With locations all over the United States, our representatives are available 24/7 to connect you with licensed clinicians and care services in your area.
Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer