Can I have fun in recovery without drugs and alcohol?
While we often think that using substances adds value to our lives, drugs and alcohol undoubtedly take away much more from us than they ever give back. Don’t believe us? Ask yourself the following questions and see if any of them hit home for you.
How many days started out fun but turned sour because of drugs or alcohol? How much time has been lost with friends and family to sneak off to the bathroom, stand in line for a drink, or leave early to go use? How many birthday parties, weddings, or fun family events are fuzzy? How many shows, movies, and concerts do you barely remember being there for at all? If any of the above sounds familiar to you (or if you’ve missed out on important things entirely because you weren’t feeling well from the night before) it is important to reflect on whether you’ve been getting as much out of life as you can or living in a fog.
It might be hard to believe now, but those in early recovery will be surprised to find that there are many activities we can actually enjoy MORE without our go-to substance. Reducing use or abstaining provides us an opportunity to try new things, turn experiences into positive memories, get in touch with what really brings us joy, and connect with people who support our sobriety.
Below are some ways you can get started LIVING and enjoying life without substances.
Sleeping the day away is usually what follows a “fun night out” but waking up everyday feeling refreshed and getting outside can be surprisingly addictive. Starting our day or week in a positive way sets us up for success and activities like sitting outside, walking, or running can be great (and free!) ways to connect with nature, ourselves, and our friends. Getting active or taking some time for mindful stillness helps us clear our heads and combat feelings of stress and anxiety – feelings that we may have tried in the past to manage with substances.
Join a team
Whether you’ve always loved sports or you’ve never tried them outside of gym class, joining a team is a great way to get out and meet new people, increase your physical activity, and have fun. Recreational leagues and gyms like the YMCA often offer sports at different skill levels so you can get involved regardless of how much you know about the game. Having a weekly commitment is also a great way to stay busy and build a new routine. Sign up by yourself or ask a supportive friend to join you. Just make sure you join a team that will be healthy for your recovery.
Explore new hobbies
The list of hobbies to try is endless and every one of them can be turned into a social activity if we are looking to connect with others. Gardening, painting, cooking, photography, woodworking, and even gaming are just a few hobbies that you can do individually or with friends. Thanks to social networking groups like Facebook and Meetup.com, there are many ways to turn your new passion into a social outing. If there isn’t already a group in your area, consider starting your own. Finding a local class to take is also an easy way to learn something new and expand your social circle.
Volunteering is a rewarding way to make a difference in your community, find a new sense of purpose, and meet like-minded people. Pick a cause you believe in and search online for organizations in your area that are working to support it. Service organizations are also a great way to join a community of volunteers who are dedicated to making a difference. Helping people in recovery is also a rewarding way to give back, and in many cases may be part of your recovery plan. The opportunities for fun, skill development, and leadership are endless when you volunteer for something that’s important to you.
Host a social
Activities like BBQs, bonfires, and game nights often go hand in hand with substance use. Invite friends over who support your decision to stay sober and focus the event around great food and conversation rather than drugs or alcohol. If you are attending a social event where you have less control over the environment, plan for potential triggers, and prepare in advance for how you will manage them so you can stay on track with your goal. Part of that plan could include bringing a friend with you – one you know you can count on to stay sober with you. This buddy can help you feel less alone, remind you of your goal if you think about slipping, and make it easier for you to leave when you feel it’s time to go.
You can do it!
Getting used to not having social lubricants can be hard but it’s important to look at what is gained from reducing dependence on substances. Sobriety gives us the opportunity to dedicate more time to ourselves, our loved ones, and our hobbies while truly making new memories that last a lifetime. We may have lost these things to addiction, but we can get them back by giving up what took them away in the first place; letting go of what causes the fog can lead to a life of fun!
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and you would like more information about the therapeutic community at the John Volken Academy, reach out to us or give us a call at 1-855-592-3001.