How to Stop Drinking out of Boredom
Drinking and boredom are much more closely linked than most might think at first. Many bored people will drink even if they aren’t particularly fond of alcohol or its effects. Boredom can be a menace to people’s habits if one truly has nothing else to do, or if they are prevented from doing the things they normally do.
Recent studies have been more than conclusive, as drinking alone and at home has risen a considerable percentage since the stay-at-home orders were put in place. Naturally, these numbers would rise with the closure of bars and restaurants for most people to get their fix, but with many people living alone or becoming more and more depressed because of the current world conditions, these statistics become much more concerning.
While it’s completely normal to be concerned regarding the current state of the world, there should never be an excuse to pick up excessive drinking. If you feel as though your mental state is declining, don’t let yourself fully succumb to depression without talking to someone about it. There are ways of coping with how you feel that don’t involve self-medicating and alcohol.
A Quick Overview on Boredom
Studies have shown that the average adult faces over 130 days of boredom every year. This is a staggering statistic and should be recognized as something that needs to be dealt with.
Boredom, simply defined, is when someone feels as though they have nothing pressing to attend to, and has nothing interesting enough that they want to do. They might find themselves scrolling on TikTok or Instagram for hours, unable to break their focus and at the end of the hour-long social media session think to themselves “man, I’m bored.”
Boredom comes and goes, and should be expected in normal life. Boredom is what happens when our priorities are focused on something that is either in the past or too far in the future. It’s not necessarily a failure, but should be attended to.
It’s okay to be bored, but it’s not alright to find yourself constantly upset that you have nothing meaningful to do. “Life is what you make of it” many inspirational posters have said, and as such if you aren’t seeking meaningful goals out and find yourself bored for weeks at a time, it is time to go out and find those goals for yourself.
What Makes Boredom a Problem?
Boredom is to be expected then, but it should be mediated and people should have reasonable outlets to remedy their boredom. Without them, people often turn to things that can be quite harmful in the short and long term.
Boredom often comes from an extended period in which an individual feels as though they really have no purpose. Perhaps their job prevents them from enjoying their hobbies as they used to, perhaps they have recently finished a large project and haven’t yet started the next one
Boredom Can Be Harmful
Without something to do, without the feeling of regular progress or purpose in one’s life, studies have shown that humans begin to exhibit some rather self-destructive tendencies. These tendencies can be as benign (physically) as sleeping the day away, to seriously and irreparably ruining one’s own life through the use of drugs, self-harm, or ruining close relationships.
Again, boredom is to be expected and one should not derive from this that all boredom is bad and should be avoided at all cost. A good day of relaxation, some time off for yourself, or even an extended vacation is all positive for one’s mental health. The issue lies in two critical areas: extended, chronic boredom and habitual boredom that is remedied by drugs or alcohol.
Drinking as a Cure to Boredom
Self-medicating with substances instead of other cures for boredom is a quick recipe for addiction. Addiction will set in quickly and not let you off easily. There are easy cures for boredom, there are hard cures for substance abuse and addiction.
While you may have solved one problem, you’ve only added a much more real problem to your life in a very serious way. What’s more, many people who find themselves in this situation will say that they don’t even like the effects or taste of alcohol, but because it was accessible and really did help their boredom, it became the norm.
In addition to alcohol addiction, alcohol can also increase symptoms that may have initially driven the person to start drinking. Alcohol can increase people’s anxiety and stress. Over 20% of people with anxiety disorders report that their symptoms worsen significantly after drinking any alcohol. Because many use alcohol as a stress reliever, they may think that self-medicating might be a good decision. Ironically, this will cause their symptoms to worsen dramatically and they might find themselves in a cycle that is quite difficult to break.
Alcohol Use Disorder is another result that can come from drinking out of boredom and should be recognized as a serious risk if one uses alcohol regularly as a cure for simple boredom.
Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), commonly known as just “alcoholism” is when someone becomes physically dependent on alcohol. This isn’t someone who “might drink a little too much” here and there. It is someone who will actually face real physical withdrawal symptoms should they stop drinking.
Alcohol Use Disorder is not just the stereotypical guy who is struggling to keep a job and living on the streets because of their addiction. High-functioning alcoholism is very real and pervasive in today’s culture. It causes familial stress, health issues, and alcohol-related deaths are one of the highest causes of death currently recorded.
Alcohol is a pervasive part of human culture. This fact is a terrible reality for everyone and makes life even more difficult for those who have issues with impulse control and alcohol. Alcohol Use Disorder is developed over time, but because of how common alcohol is it can seem like AUD takes hold of individuals rather quickly.
Outside of Alcohol Use Disorder, in a broad study done over 30% of regular American adults have self-reported having a problem with alcohol at some point in their life. This staggering statistic is hard to swallow, but not unreasonable if one looks around. Alcohol is in every restaurant, a major part of many commercials, TV shows, and so much more.
People who drink excessively aren’t necessarily outside of the norm. Studies have shown that most people who drink alcohol do it for a variety of reasons, but those reasons can be split into two major categories. Firstly: drinking to cope with negative emotions, the loss of something close, hard days at work, etc. Second: drinking to celebrate. This could be at a bar, restaurant, or house party.
None of the above reasons seem to indicate that one will then abuse alcohol, though generally, one will fall into one or the other category regularly before they start abusing alcohol. And if the previous statistics are any indication, at one point or another will a significant percentage of adults find themselves in an unhealthy relationship with alcohol
What to do Instead of Drinking
Cures for boredom are readily available, all one must do is get a shortlist of things that one might be able to do instead of drinking to replace it. Again, many people that drink to cure boredom report that they don’t want to drink, don’t like the effects or the taste. The only reason is that it “does the job” of keeping their boredom at bay, so they partake.
If you or someone that you know and love is heading down this path of drinking to fend off boredom, think about creating a list of things to do instead of drinking. These things can be complex, but it’s handy to have a mixture of complex things to do and things that are really easy to do instead. That way if you’re feeling not only bored but a little lazy, you won’t be tempted to pick up the bottle in the face of going on a long hike or something, for example.
Combatting boredom starts with creating obtainable goals for yourself and never feeling like you don’t have something to work for/towards. This is why physical fitness is usually so involved. If you can’t think of anything else, set yourself the goal of running in a 5k race. These races are usually rather common and cheap to attend, and they are easy to train for.
Getting yourself into the physical shape that is required to run a 5k will help set your goals and get you in the mood for things that are far more healthy than picking up another drink just to cure the boredom that will pass.
Pick hobbies that you like, and hobbies that promote the behavior that you are trying to obtain. For instance, finding your favorite video game might be a good time and cure the boredom, but drinking while playing video games is quite common and could eventually end up with you in a very similar position that you were initially trying to get out of.
Setting yourself up for a competition that you can train for will promote much of the following: growth, health, assuredness, groundedness. Training for a 5k by running outside will help give you more energy throughout the day, it will get you out of the house and give you some critical vitamins that you need by being outdoors, it will help get you in shape and it will help promote healthy eating habits. Drinking and getting and staying fit does not go hand in hand, as a result, you might find yourself not even craving alcohol anymore in favor of the progress that you are seeing.
Above all of these things, drinking responsibly is key in not finding yourself in a situation that you cannot come back from. Understanding yourself, your limits, and if you have the impulse control required to have even one drink will be the only things that stand in your way from becoming dependent on alcohol and maintaining a healthy relationship with it.
Whether it’s boredom or something else, you will find yourself in a situation where you will have to either turn down alcohol or stop yourself from going too far when drinking. Unless you have made the decision to never drink in all situations and are able to stick to that conviction, these tips will come in handy at one point or another.
Reach out for Help
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, reach out to us at ecosoberhouse.com for help. We have the tools and the desire to get you to live the life that you are deserving of having. If you feel yourself slipping, make the change today. Call or reach out to us right away to help get started on your journey to sobriety and live the fulfilled life that you were always meant to have.