Treatment for addictions (both controlled substances and behavioral) often starts in a rehabilitation center. However, the roads and efforts to full recovery without relapse continue for life.
People closest to addicts, including friends and families, as well as therapists and counselors, play major roles in encouraging successful sobriety and preventing exposures that may lead to a relapse.
Many people have high hopes in rehabilitation centers under the assumptions that all treatments inside the facilities will move patients to total permanent recovery.
While this can be true in some cases, rehabilitation centers must be considered nothing more than temporary care or addiction management because patients have to continue dealing with the seemingly irresistible desire to indulge in their unhealthy behaviors once they leave the facilities.
Recovering addicts need constant emotional support from people close to them.
Motivation, recognition, affiliations, and sometimes intimate relationship are some of the essentials; in addition to the sense of emotional attachments, recovering individuals can also enjoy a lot of benefits by engaging in various social activities accomplished with a group or done individually.
One of the most important steps in treating addiction is to figure out the underlying problems of the condition. Childhood trauma, stress, PTSD, depression, and sudden loss of family members are just a few examples of how addictions may start.
Psychologically overwhelming events can be the triggers, too. Treatment methods must be determined based on the nature of the issues.
There are many different types of Recreational or Creative treatment, for example, art therapy which focuses mainly on channeling emotion into more positive activities including but not limited to:
· Creative writing
· 3D modeling
· Jewelry making
· Playing music instrument
Art therapy is mostly creative activities which function as a means to channel patients’ emotions or mental states at any given time.
It does not matter if the art turns out to be reflections of distress or psychological sufferings; the most important part is understanding that creative activities are easier, affordable, legal, and socially acceptable methods to express emotions, thoughts, and ideas instead of abusing drugs/alcohol or engaging in negative addictive behaviors.
Contrary to popular belief, drugs and alcohol do not improve creativity. Constant learning and practice (in addition to natural talent) are the roots of creative skills.
While addiction is often considered mental illness, changes in behaviors and frequent long-term use of controlled substances have a direct impact on physical conditions as well.
In most cases, addicts crave certain foods, beverages, and activities that will give satisfying effects to the brain. For example, smokers have to inhale the addictive substances contained in cigarettes to trigger the feelings of satisfaction and enjoyment.
Instead of being overwhelmed by the need to get the pleasant feelings from consuming drugs or alcohol, it would be much better to reshape the connection between the brain and the body with physical activities.
For recovering addicts, a regular workout is probably the last thing they think about to maintain sobriety.
Strenuous exercise and the tiredness that certainly follows, may not seem like an agreeable proposition for someone trying to recover from addiction since the condition can, in fact, lead to an even stronger craving for more substances, but the release of endorphins can help relieve the craving.
Endorphins are hormones secreted within the brain to give an analgesic effect. They are also responsible for feelings of pleasure.
Addictions to certain substances or behaviors follow the same basic principle, but in this case, the release of endorphins is triggered by drugs or alcohol; similar results happens to those who suffer from behavioral addictions.
According to the publication Mental Health and Physical Activity, patients in substance abuse treatments who engage in physical exercise experience various beneficial effects such as improved overall health, sense of accomplishment, improved strength, and increased self-confidence.
Of course, regular workouts alone cannot replace counseling and therapy, so physical activities must be incorporated into the treatment program instead.
Regular exercise and leisure sports are effective because they deliver the sense of pleasure similar to those acquired from controlled substances.
Recovering addicts are struggling to resist the urge to experience an “endorphins rush” they typically get from consuming drugs or alcohols.
Vigorous physical activities that lead to excessive sweating can also trigger the release of endorphins, which means the brain undergoes the same process as being high.
The biggest difference is that exercise does not cause negative effects commonly associated with abusing substances.
British Journal of Sports Medicine also suggests that exercise increases the concentration of endocannabinoids, the neurotransmitters that control the brain’s rewards system and addictions.
While there are certainly many other factors that bring the pleasant, satisfying feeling from having regular exercise, the release of endorphins and the increase of endocannabinoids alone can produce the sense of euphoria.
Compared to the typical “high” sensation produced by controlled substances, the feeling of elation from exercising is not as intense, but at least it helps prevent recovering individuals from having a relapse.
Among the many benefits or functions of engaging in physical activities, reducing boredom is among the top in the list.
While exercising in the gym is not ineffective by any means, patients have better chances of staying sober if the treatments involve physical activities in an outdoor environment.
There is less chance of being bored by the repetitive movements commonly performed in any kind of exercise. Some outdoor sports that help addiction recovery are as follows:
Regular exercise is also effective at mitigating the negative effects of the withdrawal syndrome. Recovery patients’ bodies, including brains, are in the process of readjusting to normal conditions, and the process is not always easy.
There can be a long list of symptoms such as excessive hunger, restlessness, nausea, hallucination, anxiety, seizures, and feeling of extreme boredom. Engaging in physical activities can relieve those symptoms and make the “readjustment” process quicker.
Many non-profit organizations welcome almost anybody who wants to join and get involved in voluntary activities all around the country. The work does not have to be related to substance-abuse issues, but it can be about anything else such as animal rescue, climate change, education, equality, sports, technology, etc.
For recovering addicts, being a volunteer in a good cause is often as important as doing the work itself. The activity helps them to prevent relapse, and at the same time, it benefits other people or organizations. Here are some of the easiest examples:
For those who have been sober for quite a while, doing some voluntary works to help others recover can be a very rewarding experience. Telling personal stories about drug use, its negative effects on the family and the difficult journey to recovery is not only therapeutic for others, but also for the story-tellers.
Voluntary work in which patients remain around other addicts is not going to be easy; it takes courage and confidence to be able to speak out personal experiences from the past. It is not recommended for new patients.
Everybody has a hobby; it can be reading, watching movies, playing games, listening to music, bicycling, driving, fishing, gardening, etc.
A hobby must be meaningful (at least to the hobbyist) positive activity that does not interfere with normal life. Counselors and therapists must understand that they cannot force patients to find and develop hobbies in an instant.
They must allow patients to choose and do activities without coercion, albeit with supervision. This gives the patients a good sense of freedom to be themselves and appreciation for being themselves as well.
Individuals currently in recovery periods from addiction to controlled-substances can use hobbies to distract the mind from any thought that potentially triggers a relapse.
On the other hand, individuals recovering from behavioral addiction may have a different definition of what constitutes a “hobby” for the most part. Their addictions are not hobbies because the activities prevent them from having a normal healthy life.
For an activity to be considered a hobby, it has to be personally rewarding, and the person who indulges in a hobby must do it with the elements of self-care and self-preservation without sacrificing the fun of it.
For example, playing computer games can be a hobby as long as it does not distract the players from having an enjoyable normal healthy life; however, the same activities can turn into harmful addictions when it interferes with other daily activities including schools, works, sleeping, eating, or taking care of personal hygiene.
It is no longer a hobby when the activity is controlling the person, instead of the other way around.
Some safe hobbies that recovering individuals can try to help foster confidence, build social skills, develop friendships, and in general nurture the habits of self-care and self-preservation are:
It is crucial to realize that every addict deals with the recovery process differently.
Just because a particular activity/hobby is effective for certain individuals, it does not mean the same activity will also work best for another.
A collaborative work between therapists, friends, and families help make sure that patients indulge only in positive activities depending on their preferences.
If you want to find some hobbies or activities that can work in your recovery, you can get in touch with the Hotline at our Recovery Center where trained and experienced professionals are available to assist you in every way.
The staff at Chateau Recovery is always available to help you with your questions regarding addiction recovery and treatment. Call anytime.
Please call our toll-free helpline which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is staffed by experienced and caring professionals who can answer your questions and help you navigate through the process of evaluating and securing a treatment program.
The importance of hobbies in addiction recovery is an extremely important piece of recovery that many people seem to undervalue in early recovery. It is widely accepted that boredom and free time with having little or no fun while in recovery can lead to relapse. Boredom is considered the most common relapse trigger. It can lead to depression, irritability, anger, and isolation which can lead to an increase in cravings and thoughts of re-using. There are many reasons why people become bored in there recovery… some of them are discussed in this video. How to find a new hobby and interest can be as difficult as one choose’s to make it. Just as with any recovery it starts with asking for help. Using support groups is a good starting point. Ask your friends what kinds of hobbies they enjoy doing. The key to finding a new hobby—and falling in love with it—is keeping an open mind and being willing to give new things a try.