Routines can lessen uncertainty. In the midst of addiction, drugs or alcohol came first. In recovery, one needs a plan for the day to make sure he doesn’t go back into his old routine or addiction. Being able to predict what he will do for the day eases anxiety and will help keep him focused on the duties ahead. Feeling prepared gives one confidence, so he is able to appropriately handle future tasks.
Once a routine is established, stability follows. When others see a person as stable, they begin to trust him again. They see a change happening, giving the recovering addict a sense of accomplishment. Stability means showing up to a job on time, being somewhere when promised, paying bills, going grocery shopping, etc. Responsibilities that may been neglected in active addiction are now being handled in a responsible, timely manner in sobriety. Family and friends won’t have to worry as much about the person in recovery because they see he's capable of taking care of himself.
Creating a routine for a newly sober person doesn’t mean every hour of every day has to be jam packed with activities and tasks. In the early months, it’s best to take it slow. Meeting one’s basic needs is a good start, like eating well, making time for exercise, and getting to bed at a reasonable hour. Also make time to get to a 12 step meeting, 90 meetings in 90 days is recommended. Once he is familiar with his routine, he can add new tasks to his day, making sure he’s not overloading himself. Crossing off daily tasks builds self-confidence.
Recovery isn’t always fun in the sun, life happens and it’s not always uplifting. However, once a person is in a comfortable routine, he can rely on that in the darker hours. Sometimes life is stressful, there’s a death in the family, too much drama at work, etc. Relying on a schedule can help keep one foot moving in front of the other, instead of freezing, or going back into old, unhealthy habits. He can turn to his 12-step meetings, call new friends he met in meetings, or go exercise instead of turning back to drugs or alcohol.
There’s a reason drug and alcohol rehabs have a routine for their patients. It helps ease anxiety, promotes stability, and builds self-confidence. Routines are equally important when completing rehab. It’s easier to get back into the daily groove when a schedule is put in place.