A sober life does not have to equal a boring life. When our awareness is normal and our emotions stable, the possibilities for fun are unlimited.
To put it simply, being an addict is not fun. The sense of fun we think we are having when we are high is false. True, positive fun can only be achieved in a sober lifestyle.
The goal of recovery from substance abuse is to move you from being an active user to having a healthy life in sobriety. You may not know or recall how to live a life that does not include drug or alcohol use. Participating in fun sober activities allows you to have a rich, full life and fills up the time that used to be spent feeding your addiction.
Importance of Hobbies and Activities in Recovery
When you’re in the throes of an addictive lifestyle, the disease of addiction always comes first. You can’t make a choice about whether or not you’re going to drink or use drugs. Once you enter an addiction rehab program and become clean and sober, your goal changes to developing strategies that can support your long-term sobriety.
Researchers have found that the longer you can remain sober in recovery, the longer you’re likely to continue to do so. A study over an eight-year period on 1,162 participants found:
The Sober Lifestyle
The throes of addiction can make one feel as though substance abuse is the only way. The sober world seems hazy and unrealistic when peering at it through the fog of a very personal war.
With work and perseverance, that fog can lift and the true clarity of a sober lifestyle can be revealed. When entering the beginning stages of recovery, there can be a lot of empty time that must be filled. When once we were high and running in place, now the legs of sobriety must be flexed for some true movement.
While living sober isn’t always easy, it is always worth it. Here are the beginning steps in establishing a lasting recovery:
- One Day at a Time: Don’t think about what happened yesterday or what may happen tomorrow. It can be overwhelming to try to envision a future without something that took up such a huge portion of our past. Live one day at a time. Visualize not using today and only today. Over time, each sober day builds a sober life.
- Sober Networking: Avoiding people who use doesn’t mean we have to be alone with our thoughts. There is a reason why they say that an idle mind does the devil’s work. Make new connections with like-minded sober individuals who can help illuminate the path to recovery.
- Develop Sober Thinking: Identify methods of developing rational thinking. There are only two types of thought: rational and irrational. An example of irrational thinking would be saying “Oh well, this isn’t going to work and I will just be an addict forever.” Avoid these types of self-defeating thoughts.
- Be Honest With Yourself: Much like developing sober ways of thinking, being honest with ourselves is part of the mental recovery strategy. We must acknowledge that recovery may not always be easy, but it is necessary. Deluding ourselves only increases the chance that we will fall back into a pattern of risky behavior.
For lifelong recovery, figuring out what we should do is only half of the equation. While it is helpful to know what should be done, it is equally important to outline what shouldn’t:
- Avoid Social Triggers: Interactions that place us in situations where we may be tempted to use should be avoided. As if maintaining sobriety wasn’t hard enough, the last thing we need is to be surrounded by reminders of our past drug use.
- Avoid Emotional Triggers: Don’t allow anger, resentment or depression to take over your emotional state. More often than not, drug use results from a broken emotional coping mechanism triggered by negative feelings such as anger and resentment. By preventing those feelings from bubbling up in the first place and practicing calming techniques, emotional triggers can be kept at bay.
- Avoid Risk Factors: Being able to understand and acknowledge feelings and behaviors that put sobriety at risk is crucial. Part of recovery is charting a path that embraces logic and sound reasoning while avoiding risky behavior and self-doubt.
- Avoid Isolation: It can’t be said enough that isolation is never the answer. Though addiction often wreaks havoc on the family unit, recovery brings back harmony. A supportive group of close friends and family should never be taken for granted. Welcome their involvement in your new life.
- Avoid the Beat or Cheat: We must always refrain from trying to beat or cheat recovery. By making excuses or justifications for risky behavior, we only increase the chance of relapse. The only way to succeed is by maintaining complete and total sobriety.
There is more to living a sober life than knowing the dos and don’ts of recovery. Building a new way of life means finding new ways to spend your time. Find out about the benefits of hobbies and activities in recovery.
Benefits of Hobbies and Activities in Recovery
When you’re in recovery, you’ll no longer be spending time finding, using and recovering from using your drug of choice. You need to fill that large hole in your schedule with something positive. Hobbies and activities help you find something new and different to focus your attention on. When you engage in hobbies and activities that are enjoyable, you:
- Find out what having fun without using feels like — The main benefit of spending time on hobbies and sober group activities in recovery is it reminds you what it was like to experience pleasurable feelings without the influence of drugs or alcohol. It may have been years since you had what you would consider a good time without being under the influence of chemicals. You may equate having fun with “partying,” and it may take some time for you to learn that there are other ways for you to enjoy yourself.
- Improve your social skills — You may have thought you were quite social when you were using. The reality is you were only sitting beside other people who were also using drugs. It’s not the same as participating in an activity together and really sharing the experience when sober.Making a point of going out with a group is a good way to develop social skills that may be lacking. The other people in the group, if it is specifically one for those in recovery, are likely having some similar issues, too. Spending time with them can help all group members feel more comfortable in group situations while they enjoy whatever activity the group has decided to do together.
- Lessen your sense of isolation — In early recovery, you can’t spend time with your former associates and people who are currently using drugs and alcohol. The likelihood that it might trigger a relapse is too great. It’s important to make new friends who are embracing a sober lifestyle.
- Increase your motivation — If you’re in recovery, you may need some extra motivation from time to time to meet up with the rest of the social group, get to the exercise class, have coffee with a friend, buy supplies for the road trip, or whatever needs to be done. When you make specific plans in advance, it helps to keep them on track by keeping these commitments.
- Lower your stress level — If you become anxious about staying sober or start experiencing cravings, having specific activities to do on a regular basis helps focus your mind on other positive activities. You can break the cycle of focusing on a single thought until it becomes overwhelming.
- Boost your self-esteem — Trying new hobbies and experiences in recovery is an excellent way to learn new things about yourself and gain confidence in your abilities.
Why Boredom Can Be Dangerous for Recovering Addicts
Having regular activities you enjoy is key to sustaining your long-term recovery because it also prevents boredom. Large chunks of time with nothing to do can spell disaster if you’re in recovery. You want to keep engaged in healthy activities to prevent you from using again.
When you’re in recovery, and you become bored and disinterested in your surroundings, you may start looking for something to make yourself feel better. This could lead to making unhealthy food choices, which is not good for your overall health.
You may start thinking back on your time using and remember it as being “not that bad.” This is the type of thinking that leads you to start thinking you can drink or use “just this once,” and it will be all right. You’ll start on the slippery slope to a full-blown relapse.
How to Find Sober Activities to Help You in Recovery
There is a difference between not allowing boredom to set in and feeling as though you need to have every minute of every day scheduled with activities. Most people don’t operate well on a schedule that offers no free time or wiggle room — it’s simply not healthy. In recovery, you want to build elements into your life that you enjoy and will give you something you can focus your attention on.
Taking this step is a valuable coping mechanism for when you experience cravings for your drug of choice or the anxiety that often accompanies them. It will also help you to either re-establish yourself as the well-rounded person you were before drugs and alcohol entered your life or develop that quality as part of your recovery.
To find the healthy activities that will ensure your free time is enjoyable and productive, try:
- Making a list of ideas — When looking for sober activities that will appeal to you, think about what you liked to do before you had a problem with substance abuse. How did you spend your leisure time? It may be helpful to write down some ideas over a period rather than putting pressure on yourself to come up with several of them all at once.
- Looking for new experiences — You are not the same person you were before you developed an addiction, so it makes sense your taste in hobbies and activities may have changed. Add some ideas about activities you would like to try but have not had a chance to yet.
- Including some individual activities — Make sure you have a variety of activities on your list of sober activities, including some you can do on your own. You want to be able to enjoy your own company as part of your recovery and not have to rely on having other people around you to keep busy. If you never learned how to feel comfortable being on your own, start with an activity you can do on your own but with other people nearby. Some examples would be going to the gym, attending a lecture or taking an art class. You would be doing an activity individually but not spending time completely by yourself.
- Enjoying dinner by yourself — Go to a restaurant that seems interesting to you and order lunch or dinner for one. If you feel at all awkward, take a book or a newspaper with you. The staff will be too busy working to wonder about a guest sitting alone. In the unlikely event anyone does ask, you only need to explain that you are a party of one.
- Being flexible about the activities you choose — The activities you decide to put on your list of things to try in early recovery may not be the ones you decide to stick with as your recovery progresses. This phase in your life is a new one for you, a time when you will be trying some new things to see what will work for you. You may find that some of the sober activities you try out aren’t exactly a good fit for your personality, lifestyle, athletic ability, etc. You are not required to stick with a specific activity simply because you tried it or it worked for someone else you know who is also a recovering addict. There are many options you can choose from when you are looking for sober activities.
List of Sober Activities
This list of sober activities includes a variety of options, including quiet ones that can be enjoyed individually, group get-togethers for young people and some family-friendly ideas that people in recovery can enjoy with their loved ones.
Fun Sober Activities for College Students
- Have a house crawl — A house crawl is similar to a pub crawl, except that each house participating provides a course of food instead of alcohol or drugs. The first house provides an appetizer, the second one looks after the salad, the third house serves the main course and the fourth house offers dessert. At the last house, everyone enjoys a movie or game night.
- Visit a comedy club — Comedy clubs are licensed, but that doesn’t mean that groups interested in visiting them as a sober activity have to drink alcohol. They also serve soft drinks, water, and coffee. A group of young people can go out and enjoy the show and the variety of comedians on stage without having to drink. Afterward, everyone can stop off for a snack at a late-night dinner before heading home.
- Join a sports team — Most colleges have intramural sports teams looking for players at all levels of ability. Along with “traditional” sports such as baseball, softball, volleyball, and basketball, you can probably find opportunities to participate in non-traditional ones such as dodgeball, ultimate frisbee, and disc golf. Choose one that interests you, sign up for a team and start participating. Submit your e-mail address and have opportunities that match the criteria sent directly to your inbox.
- Do volunteer work — There are many organizations that can use a helping hand. Visit VolunteerMatch.org to find organizations seeking volunteers. Type in a few words in the search box about your interests or choose from the categories listed on the website (Animals, Arts and Culture, Computers and Technology, Education and Literacy, Environment, Faith-based, Sports, etc.) You have the option of choosing between volunteering at a local organization or virtually.
Sober Group Activities
- Go to a sporting event — Get together with a group of friends and go to a sporting event together. If no big-league team plays in your city, look for minor league teams near you. The cost will be lower, and you will be able to see up-and-coming players.
- Board Games – Let’s face it, what’s more fun than sharing a hearty laugh with close friends and family? A classic board game to bring out the humor amongst loved ones is the best way to ease tension and share in a loving moment.
- Play tourist in your own city — Contact the local tourist bureau to find out about local walking tours. If there isn’t a formal one already available, find a few friends and use Google Maps or an online app to historic places of interest in your city — ideally within walking distance of each other — and develop your own tour. Plan your route so you have time to explore an area or a neighborhood that interests you and be sure to end your adventure with a stop at a restaurant or a cafe for a meal or snack.
- Community Centers – There are a number of groups and organizations that offer indoor activities for those trying to stay on the straight and narrow. While not every city offers a community center able to help the entire population, when available these are valuable resources. Many offer sports facilities, free Internet, community support programs and sightseeing tours.
Sober Individual Activities
- Discover a new author at the library — Go to the public library and tell the librarian what type of books you like to read. Ask for a recommendation for a new author or two. Some people who like to read tend to stick with the same authors and read the same series of books all the time. If the library has a table of featured books being promoted, pick up one of them that looks interesting and take it home. You’re borrowing, so if it ends up not being interesting, simply return it. The idea here is to try something different without necessarily knowing the outcome.
- The Gym – It is no secret that exercising is a great way to release stress and improve physical health. If a gym membership is not possible, try exercising at home or going for a quick jog. Any sober physical activity is a good activity.
- Cooking – Oftentimes the disease of addiction affects our health in ways that aren’t even related to using. Cooking often goes by the wayside, leading to unhealthy eating habits and further deterioration in physical health. Getting back into the kitchen to make delectable meals for loved ones can be an extremely therapeutic and delicious endeavor!
- Sign up for a class — There are plenty of adult education classes available. Further your education and start to work on a degree or certificate. Or, you can take a course in something you have always wanted to learn, such as how to prepare a certain type of food, paint, draw, do woodworking, refinish furniture, make soap, trace your family tree, play an instrument, perform CPR, etc. This is a wonderful way to expand your circle of acquaintances since you will immediately have something in common with them.
- Take an online course — You may find it more convenient to take an online course since you can study whenever it’s convenient for you. Some programs have online discussions with fellow students and the instructor, so you wouldn’t necessarily be studying alone. You would have to be disciplined enough to keep on top of your coursework without going to a physical classroom to do it, though.
- Museums – In many cities, local museums offer free or low-cost admission. Enjoying the fruits of someone’s creative labors can be both educational and calming. Art shows and museums are excellent locations for sober activity.
- Arts and Crafts – While this may not be for everyone, seeing a personal creation come to life can be an incredibly calming and gratifying experience. Whether scrapbooking or making a single piece of origami, revel in the joy of creation. Browse Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. Who knows? Maybe your creations can turn into a side business on Etsy.
- Study a new language — Pick up language-training CDs at the local library or look for free websites and apps that can help you learn a foreign language. If you have already had some language training, you may want to start with something you are familiar with and build on it. Once you have gained some skill with a second (or subsequent) language, you can look at adding another one.
- Reading a Book – Admittedly, in today’s digital age reading a book has a decidedly un-cool ring. Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. We used to escape into a high. Escaping into another world isn’t always such a bad thing when done sober. Choose inspirational books and gain important life skills to address everyday stressors — it’s another way to protect your sobriety.
Fun Sober Activities at Night
- Go dancing — Get dressed up and spend the evening cutting a rug. If you have never felt comfortable on the dance floor, invest in a few lessons before going out. Not only is this great exercise, but it is a wonderful way to spend an evening. Have dinner first or go out dancing and end the evening with a late snack. Be sure to drink plenty of water while you are dancing — you’ll be burning lots of calories!
- Have A Great Dinner – A wonderful evening meal doesn’t have to be spent at a high-priced restaurant. You can enjoy a good meal with a friend just about anywhere and at any price level. Going out to eat gives you a chance to cultivate your important relationships and strengthen your support system.
- Host your own movie night — Do you and your friends like movies? Choose a favorite genre, actor, director or topic and host a theme night. Invite some friends over to watch films. Serve movie munchies and soft drinks if you want to keep it simple. If you want to do something a bit more involved, ask each guest to bring something to contribute to the evening, and you can have a potluck dinner as well. Be sure to discuss each of the films before you show the next one and give everyone a chance to voice their opinion before moving on.
- Have a bonfire — Choose an evening when the weather is fair to build a bonfire. Roast marshmallows to make S’mores for a tasty treat. Sing songs and tell stories or just enjoy the colors in the flames and their warmth. If the evening starts to get chilly, drink tea or coffee and snuggle under blankets. For fun, look up to see how many constellations you and your friends can recognize in the night sky. If you don’t know their real names, make up some of your own — no one will mind.
- Have A Picnic – What better way to enjoy quality time with a friend or partner than by spending it with a glass of sparkling apple cider, two sandwiches and a sunset over the mountains? Whether in a nearby park or your backyard, eating outdoors can be an experience you’ll both remember.
- Visit A Local Fair – To be — no pun intended — fair, this isn’t an option that may present itself on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. When it is in town, however, this is an activity that shouldn’t be passed up. The Ferris wheel offers up good old-fashioned romance and sober fun!
In the end, the best sober activity for couples is the one that brings them together, whether in love or in friendship. A life of addiction is devastating to relationships — platonic or not. Taking the time to rebuild your important relationships is key to your lifelong sobriety.
Sober Activities for a Sound Mind and Body
You don’t have to go far to hear someone extolling the virtues of yoga, meditation, and other relaxation techniques. These activities are extremely beneficial for those who are in recovery.
Emotional triggers are often the easiest to succumb to. By staying engaged with our mind, body, and spirit — and focusing on remaining in the present — emotional triggers can be kept at bay.
Here are some healthy sober activities that provide a calm invigoration to our mental and emotional states:
- Meditation: Always first on the list, meditation is the easiest of all relaxation techniques. It requires no special tools or training. By merely closing your eyes, taking a few deep breaths and counting to ten, you are meditating. Check out these meditations that you can do at any moment in the day:
- One Minute Meditation: Place your hand below your belly button and breathe in slowly. Feel your stomach rise. Hold the breath for three seconds and exhale. Repeat these steps for one minute.
- Two Minute Meditation: Close your eyes and slowly count down from ten. As each number is vocalized, take a deep breath in and out. Stretch out the breaths and repeat as necessary until two minutes is reached.
- Three Minute Meditation: Have a seat in a chair and close your eyes. Relax your face, let your jaw go slack, uncross your legs and let your arms dangle next to you. Allow gravity to pull your body down and feel yourself sinking into the chair. Take deep breaths in and out for three minutes, allowing for complete relaxation.
- Yoga: There are many variations of yoga, all of which can be practiced in the comfort of your home. Contrary to popular belief, yoga does not require expensive memberships or specific equipment. There are a great many free online resources that provide information on yoga poses that can be done right in the living room.
- Tai Chi: While it may be less well-known than yoga, tai chi is certainly no less useful. This ancient Chinese tradition involves slow movements performed in a specific manner while breathing deeply. It combines the best elements of meditation and yoga and can be done just about anywhere without a dollar spent.
The benefits of these sober activities exist well outside the realm of esoteric relaxation. These techniques are used today to treat such illnesses as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
These types of practices help us remain mindful and stay in the present. They add to our sense of emotional well-being and strengthen our mind and body without adverse side effects. What more could we ask for in a sound recovery?
Sober family-friendly Activities
- Visit a summer fair — The summer is the perfect time to explore summer fairs, and there is no shortage of these events once school lets out. There are usually enough attractions to interest everyone in the family, and you can find plenty of food and drink available without having to be unduly concerned about exposure to drugs or alcohol. Focus on checking out the games, displays and live entertainment. Walk the midway and let your children go on some rides and play some games — you may want to try a few yourself!
- Plant a garden — Sit down with your family and discuss what you would like to grow together. You can plant bulbs or annuals if you enjoy flowers or plant a vegetable garden and enjoy eating what you have grown. Next, you’ll need to decide on the size of space for your garden. Keep in mind that you can grow flowers and vegetables in containers if you don’t have a lot of space available to you, and the results will still be the same. Get books from the library or look up information online to help guide you and shop for materials and tools together. Look after the weeding and watering as a family, making it a hobby everyone can enjoy.
If you are looking for an addiction treatment center for yourself or a loved one that offers a practical approach to recovery, 12 Keys Rehab can help. You’ll benefit from an individualized program in which you can participate in extracurricular activities, including deep-sea fishing, horseback riding on the beach, standup paddleboarding, kayaking and more. Contact us today to learn more about our program.