Dissolving Ennui Before It Erodes Recovery

Reducing and eliminating ennui is more important to recovery that it might seem. After all, ennui is nothing more than extreme boredom, right? Well, it can go deeper than that, into a sense of drifting, total aimlessness that devolves into a lack of meaning in life. When people hit that point, they often question the value of sobriety. It may seem hard to believe, that anyone would look the bloody chaos of addiction as superior to sobriety, but that’s only the end result. Boredom, ennui, a lack of meaning in life is always the start of that particular kind of restlessness that wends its way to relapse.

Typically, this kind of boredom happens to those folks who don’t have any strong connections with anything greater than themselves. This isn’t to say a religion or religious bent. Boredom comes most easily when people don’t readily see anything to do. When a person has a connection to a something greater than themselves, whether a faith, a cause, even an overarching life project, there’s always something to do.

People in recovery can fall into the ennui trap by getting stuck. It might be on a concept of recovery or a personal task that’s very challenging. People may step away from a problem in an attempt to get some space, but then they fail to re-engage at all. For example, when you’re in recovery but still living with, or are in close contact with someone whose substance abuse is out of control, you may get stuck in the “should I stay or should I go” conundrum. Stepping away from the problem may buy some objectivity, but unless you make a decision, you’re not going to go forward in your own sobriety.

Getting stuck in recovery is a whole separate article, but boredom in recovery can also be the sign of not having found new sober activities that are consistently pleasing. The first step there is to look back to the days and years before addiction took command and see what used to give us pleasure. For some, that’s not so tough, but many people started using drugs when quite young. What interested them back then would not be of interest to an adult. That’s where being part of a recovering community comes in hand. People can offer suggestions for activities that support sobriety.  A mix of solitary and social activities is best, but how that’s weighted depends on the individual.