"Structure. Routine. Discipline. What do these words mean to you? For some, they represent safety, sameness, predictability. Others feel stifled or even oppressed by what these concepts represent. Our previous experiences or lack of experience with structure and routine will often color how we feel about embracing these tools in recovery. Whatever these words evoke for you, remember: structure and routine are absolutely essential pieces of a healthy, sustainable recovery lifestyle. You don"t need to go overboard and schedule out every minute of your day, but you do need to work in regular times for the "building blocks" of health and recovery on a daily basis. Your recovery routine can and should be unique to you, but there are some general rules of thumb that will apply across all recovery routines. Today, we"ll look at why routine is so important in recovery, learn about the building blocks of a healthy routine and explore why routine is especially critical for dual diagnosis patients who struggle with mental health concerns in addition to substance use disorder. Stress and boredom are the two biggest reasons patients cite for relapse after a period of successful recovery from active addiction. Developing a regular routine goes a long way in fending off both of these relapse triggers before they become overwhelming. Early recovery say the first six to twelve months of sobriety is a delicate time. "Getting clean" is the first hurdle, but what comes after is usually the real challenge. It"s not easy, but many of our patients have "gotten clean" for short periods of time, usually on their own without any professional treatment. Many will do this repeatedly before seeking professional help. That"s because it"s staying clean that ultimately represents the biggest challenge for these patients. One key piece that"s sometimes missing in the picture for these patients is the presence and determined cultivation of a "new normal" to replace their old routine."
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