Boredom and Addiction - A Dangerous Game
I work with a lot of people who struggle with various addictions.
Some struggle with alcohol or other drug addictions and other struggles with what is commonly called “process addictions” in the psychotherapy trade. Struggling with boredom is another popular one.
These types of addictions include gambling, sex, and overuse of the internet (usually online porn). Most of the clients I work with have attended some form of inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment program during their initial recovery period. These clients understand they have a problem and have actively stopped their behavior. Many of my clients are coming to me to work on relapse prevention.
These clients understand they have a problem and have actively stopped their behavior. Many of my clients are coming to me to work on relapse prevention.
For anyone trying to change their addictive behavior, relapse is a real and many times frightening issue.
For people who struggle with eliminating addictive behavior from their lives, that behavior is often times what I call a “default setting.” In other words, you will always fall back on it, unless you have replaced it with a more positive behavior. From my perspective, based on working with clients who relapse, the number one trigger appears to be boredom.
For many of us, struggling with boredom is a very real situation. This idea is not lost on mass entertainment and marketing. Our consumer based culture depends on being able to sell us something when we’re feeling bored.
However, for someone trying to stop an addictive behavior, their default when they are feeling bored is involving themselves in that particular behavior, whether it is consuming alcohol, getting high or online gambling or cruising for porn. People who struggle with that particular state of being have to learn how to acknowledge it and just as importantly, understand that it is a temporary state of being, it WILL eventually go away, even if you do not engage in the addictive behavior.
For some, this is a difficult skill to cultivate, one must be willing to experience some discomfort for a period of time. Once a person learns this skill, the benefits of it will be extraordinary.
Need more info regarding struggling with boredom?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) toll-free telephone number for alcohol and drug information/treatment referral assistance. Telephone: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)