What do sober people do for fun, and how do they stay positive throughout the recovery process? Turnbridge takes a look at redefining fun in recovery, and offers fun activities to try while sober.
When a person is in early recovery, it is common for them to look back and reminisce about the past. They may talk about how sobriety is hard work, and glamorize their old drinking and drug-using days. However, when it comes down to it, those days were not always as fun as they’d like to think. While drugs and alcohol stimulate the brain’s reward system, they also cause difficult, depleting, and devastating consequences in a person’s life.
Right now, you may be early in the recovery process. You may have taken strides to get sober, but are finding that living sober is not always fun. Sometimes, it’s hard work. It can be uncomfortable. When you think about it, though, battling addiction was much harder. In addition, anything new that you introduce will, inevitably, take time to get used to. It will take time to define what fun now means for you. If you have a counselor, a sponsor, or a sober network, they can help you in your journey to redefine fun. This is an important step in the recovery process.
Redefining Fun in Recovery
Dr. Steven Melemis is a recognized author and doctor in the addiction treatment space. In his work titled, “Relapse Prevention and the Five Rules of Recovery,” he discusses the necessary process of redefining fun and how that plays a role in a person’s recovery.
“When individuals continue to refer to their using days as ‘fun,’ they continue to downplay the negative consequences of addiction. Expectancy theory has shown that when people expect to have fun, they usually do, and when they expect that something will not be fun, it usually isn’t… Therefore, on the one hand, individuals expect that using will continue to be fun, and, on the other hand, they expect that not using will be uncomfortable.”
In order to redefine fun, you must drop any expectations or preconceived notions related to the word. What was fun for you in the past may not be fun for you now. You have grown and your priorities have changed. You can use this sober journey as an opportunity to figure out what will bring you pleasure in the days ahead.
One of the greatest benefits of sobriety is the fresh perspective you get on life. With this new lens, you can discover what brings you real, honest joy and, on the other hand, what brings you down. You can make impactful changes in your life with this newfound knowledge.
Another benefit of sobriety is the sheer fact that you can remember the fun you’re having. Gone are the days of blacking out and passing out. While you are sober, you will have the chance to make real memories and enjoy fun activities without the crutch of drugs or alcohol.
10 Fun Things to Do While Sober
Now, exactly what do sober people do for fun? At Turnbridge, clients pursue a range of holistic and recreational activities that are healthy and bring them joy. Below are examples of some of the fun, sober things you can do while in recovery.
Physical activity stimulates the release of endorphins in the body and dopamine in the brain, two “happy” chemicals that make a person feel good. This, in turn, reduces stress, wards off negative feelings, boosts self-esteem, and increases energy in the individual. Therefore, exercise is one of the best things you can do during your sobriety. Many people in recovery will say that any time they are feeling down, bored, or craving drugs, they will hit the gym or go for a run to get back on track.
- Read a Book
When you were struggling with drug abuse, you may have felt that it was hard to concentrate on reading, or even sit still to read a book. In recovery, however, you may discover that reading is something you can (and like) to do. Aside from the escape and pleasure that books provide, there are many benefits to reading. Research shows it increases brain connectivity, alleviates depression, reduces stress, promotes sleep, and can even lengthen your lifespan.
- Make Art
If you have artistic talent or simply a desire to create something, art can be a great way to channel your energy and have fun in the process. Remember, art does not solely mean painting and drawing. It can also mean creating music, writing a poem, decorating your home, or building something in your garage. There are many different artforms that you can explore while living sober.
- Get Outside
Nature is a natural healer. In fact, studies show that natural sunlight helps mitigate pain, and simply looking up at the trees can reduce the stress-related hormones in your body. So, as you seek sober, fun things to do (particularly during this global pandemic), consider getting outside! Take a hike with a buddy or explore local nature trails. You may also take a trip to ski the mountains, swim in a lake, or walk along the beach. Any slice of nature can prove beneficial for your recovery.
- Family Time
Spending time with your family can promote positive mental health, and can be a lot of fun as well. If you have a child, sibling, or niece/nephew to hang out with, take advantage of this time—you will find that young ones have a way of creating their own fun. If you choose to spend time with your parents, or a significant other, you may also enjoy strengthening your emotional bond over conversation, dinner, or even a board game night.
- Grab a Coffee with a Friend
You may be growing tired of people asking, “Do you want to grab a drink?” Remember that sobriety does not have to mean saying no and staying inside. You can still go out and grab coffee, hot chocolate, or a non-alcoholic beverage with a friend. You can still enjoy conversation and a tasty treat with the ones you love.
- Take a Class or Pursue a New Hobby
If you’ve ever dreamt about trying something new, now is the time to do so. Between a pandemic and a new commitment to sobriety, you will find there is more time to pursue your passion areas. There are a variety of virtual classes you can enroll in, whether that be guitar lessons or college courses. As more areas open up to the public, you may also consider enrolling in a class or workshop near you. Having a regular cadence of classes to look forward to can be a great way to have fun in recovery.
- Try a New Restaurant
For all the foodies out there, you can make a habit of trying new, local eats. Make a list of restaurants that you’ve always wanted to try in your area. Then, set aside one night each week to work down the list. You may order take-out or simply go out for a change of scenery.
- Have a Movie Night
Movies are a great sober activity that you can do alone or with friends. You can create movie nights at home with the ones you love, equipped with plenty of popcorn. Or, if you need a night out, you can catch a movie at your local theater. Although many theaters are still closed to the general public, some theaters are offering private movie showings for small groups. Check out your local theater to see if this is available to you!
If you have a bit of wanderlust, going for an adventure is one of the most fun things you can do while sober. Find a close friend to take a road trip with you. Drive up the coast of New England, or chase some sunshine by driving west. If you are looking for shorter day-trips, there is always an opportunity to explore your own locale. Drive to a nearby city to do some sightseeing, or take a trip off the grid to explore some local hiking trails. Be sure to bring someone to take photos and enjoy the ride with.
These are just 10 of the many fun things people do while sober. Of course, when the pandemic is over, this list will only grow. You can get back out to local events in your area, and enjoy fun outings like live music, sports games, museums, theater performances, and more. Keep an eye on your local calendar as the weather warms up.
Living Sober is an Opportunity to Live Your Life
When you give it the chance, sobriety can be fun. It can also be a great opportunity to define what fun means to you, to find what makes you happy, and to remember all the good times along the way. If you or a loved one is struggling in your commitment to recovery, and are struggling to find ways to have fun while sober, it could indicate a need for change in your treatment plan. Contact Turnbridge at 877-581-1793 to talk with one of our admissions counselors, and to get the help or advice you may need.