Carole Bennett M.A.

From Heartache to Hope

Boredom: A Possible Road to Addiction

Drugs or alcohol can seem like the answer to boredom or emotional pain.

Posted Apr 24, 2013

As the saying goes, "An idle mind is the devil's playground." Anyone with too much time on their hands may find themselves in hot water. People who tend to be bored may also be weary or restless because of a lack of personal interests. They may be bored with themselves, their jobs, and their life.

Boredom usually stems from one's own lack of motivation, endeavor, or creativity. Everyone gets bored now and then, but there's a difference between changing that mood through healthy alternatives and turning to drugs or alcohol, either alone or with friends. This response to boredom can lead, in some cases, to a destructive path toward addiction.

Boredom takes some perseverance to shake off. It is a state of mind and requires a committed determination to change.

One can form a habit out of being bored because it can present a degree of comfort and safety. Eventually, since no one expects anything from you, and you don't expect anything from yourself, drugs or alcohol can seem like an acceptable choice and the easiest and quickest fix.

Drugs or alcohol can appear to take away the pain of emotional, mental, or physical challenges. Boredom is often simply a state of awareness that shows up just prior to the surfacing of difficult, painful thoughts and feelings we have pushed away from our conscious awareness.

As difficult a challenge as boredom can present to overcome for anyone of any age, the answer lies in confronting and moving through and beyond the causes of boredom. Anyone experiencing significant levels of boredom needs to ask themselves what challenging (and likely unpleasant) experience they are attempting to avoid.

When children or adolescents are spending too much time in front of the television (or screens of any kind) or listlessly whiling away hours, it may be time to step in. Curtail the screen-time hours and help your child look for and plan stimulating activates or hobbies. If they are not interested in pursuing them independently, get involved yourself or recruit other members of the family.

Strong, positive energy coupled with the right attitude is important to infuse into your child a new productive program. If executed early and properly, boredom will have no opportunity to lead to dangerous experimentation with potentially addictive behaviors.

If you are an adult and active yet bored with work or mundane, tedious activities, push yourself to discover new adventures or make new friends. If your job represents a form of security but is painstakingly boring, explore new possibilities for employment even if you never fill out an application or get a job interview.

Talk to other family members and tell them of your boredom so that they can support and work with you in determining other paths to fulfillment. This might help to deter you from turning to alcohol or substance use in order for you to alleviate your own boredom in a self-destructive, detrimental way. It also makes you accountable to others and them to you, if you've extended your hand for help.

Be creative and shake things up in your life. You never know what might happen, especially if you keep an open mind. The alternative is either a stale, lackluster lifestyle or one where the only entertainment is destructive addictive behavior. Take responsibility and choose the more creative and productive path.