Activities in Recovery
Addiction tends to focus and narrow the lives of those who suffer with it. As drugs and alcohol become more important to users, relationships and other activities that were once enjoyed drop away. One significant recovery task is to discover ways to stay occupied and enjoy life without the use of addictive substances.
People in recovery have a wide variety of opportunities for sober activities. These can be categorized as follows:
Unaccompanied activities – Activities that can be done alone give individuals control over their schedules. It is handy to have a list of enjoyable activities that can be pursued when the mood strikes without having to make arrangements with other people.
- Social activities – Positive social relationships are an important part of an emotionally healthy life. It is wise to maintain a balance and to find both social and solo activities to enjoy. The choice of social group is an extremely important part of the recovery process. Studies shop that a patient’s social support network after treatment is of vital importance to successful recovery.
- Alcohol and Substance-free gatherings – It is easier to find activities where no drugs are present than to find those where no alcohol is being consumed. Addiction support groups often sponsor events where no addictive substances are allowed. Activities associated with certain church groups also tend to be alcohol-free. It is possible to find sporting events, theme parks, concerts and other public activities that do not allow alcohol. Gatherings of like-minded friends in private homes, such as dinner parties and game nights, can also be a good option.
- Activities once enjoyed – Often people can look back to a time before substance use and identify interests that were crowded out by drugs or alcohol. Returning to former interests can be a good way to begin building a substance-free life.
- Activities once accompanied by substance use – In early recovery it may be difficult to participate sober in activities that were once engaged in while using drugs or alcohol. The mental associations are likely to produce cravings and serve as potential relapse triggers. Until new associations between fun and sobriety have been established, it is best to avoid as many activities once associated with substance use as possible.
- Home-based activities – The advantage of hobbies and other activities that take place at home is that the environment can be controlled. The disadvantage is that without an occasional change of scenery, boredom can grow.
Possible Sober Activities
Finding enjoyable sober activities can seem daunting in early recovery for many reasons. Individuals suffering from addiction have learned to associate relaxation and enjoyment with their drug of choice and find it hard to imagine that substance-free activities can fill the void. Some possible sober activities include the following:
- Physically demanding tasks – Exercise has a wide range of benefits. Studies show that exercise appears to lower levels of a protein associated with drug craving. It is also an effective stress reliever. Exercise can be a unaccompanied or group activity and can take place at home, a gym, or outdoors. Possibilities include jogging, hiking, biking, skating, swimming, weight lifting, and dancing.
- Education – Learning new things can be exciting and enriching, and education can take various forms. Sometimes people in recovery pursue formal education at a college, university, or trade school. Others take advantage of classes or workshops offered through libraries, museums or community centers. There are also many online educational options.
- Music – Both producing and listening to music can provide pleasure and stress relief. Some people learn to play a musical instrument or begin singing in a choir. Others enjoy exploring new musical artists and genres. When the weather is warm enough, many communities offer free outdoor concerts in parks or other public locations.
- Collecting – Anything can become the basis for a collection, but common ones include stamps, coins, rocks, sports cards, arrow heads, comic books and postcards.
- Creative endeavors – It can be very satisfying to create something from nothing. Creative activities include woodworking, sewing, painting, sculpting, crocheting, writing, photography, and film-making.
- Volunteering – In addition to the intrinsic value of helping others, volunteering can help people focus on things other than their own challenges and assist in creating a new self-identity.