Organizational structure is a big part of recovery for many people. Maintaining structure in your life is often emphasized in addiction treatment. As you go through a program, your days will be structured from start to finish for as long as the program lasts. When you first enter treatment, you’ll sit down with a therapist and form a treatment plan. Treatment experts discourage spending time in treatment with no treatment plan, so clinicians are usually very quick to set you up with one.
Beyond that, you may have a structured schedule of other things like meals, downtime, and bedtimes. As you advance in treatment, you’ll start to have more free time to explore your own interests and responsibilities. Then once you finish treatment, you’ll be in control of what you do from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep. However, maintaining structure in your life is a great step in preventing relapse and maintaining your sobriety. Here are a few reasons why.
Many people who relapse find that they had become complacent about their recovery in the days and months leading up to using again. When you stop working towards recovery, you may start to move away from it. Structure can help keep you focused on moving forward and meeting challenges. Maintaining a mindset that you had in addiction treatment when you are working toward your sobriety can help you protect it. Structure helps you avoid complacency and reminds you that the things you do with your time matter to your recovery.
Poor organization and uncertainty about your day can cause stress. Forgetting things and failing to keep appointments can cause stress and anxiety that can be avoided.
Structure in your day can also help you make the best use of your time, allowing you to get more done, so deadlines and obligations aren’t hanging over you.
A structured routine can also help you work in daily healthy activities that can relieve stress.
A solid workout routine has shown to relieve every-day anxieties.
More importantly, a healthy sleep schedule gives your body a chance to recharge and heal each night.
Living an unstructured lifestyle can more easily lead to unhealthy habits that cause anxiety and stress that could lead to a relapse.
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In treatment, your treatment plan is broken into large goals and smaller, tangible objectives. A structured day is the same way. Your goals may be to become more financially stable, develop your relationship with your kids, or maintain sobriety. Goals can be lofty, but the objectives that help you reach them can be smaller and reachable.
Daily objectives may be to get up on time, make your bed, make breakfast for your family, and get to work on time. As you complete each objective, it may build self-esteem and self-efficacy to work towards the next thing. A structured day outlines clear objectives, rather than aimlessly going through the motions.
American Psychiatric Association. (2017, January). What Is Addiction? Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction
CDC. (2018, February 22). Sleep and Sleep Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/index.html
Marlatt, A. (1999). Relapse Prevention – National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh23-2/151-160.pdf
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, July). Treatment and Recovery. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery
National Institute of Mental Health. (2018, July). Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml