Self-Care 101: Learning to Have Fun without Drugs, Alcohol, or Guilt
You’re clean and sober – now what?
No more parties, no more drinking at the beach or barbeques, no more tripping while listening to Floyd… Does this mean you will never have any fun again? Absolutely not!
Being clean and sober is an opportunity to learn to have fun for the first time in your life. When you are of your right mind and body, it enables you to be entirely in the present moment, no matter what you’re doing.
And as you practice being truly present, you’ll develop the ability to create happiness and joy in every situation.
As for fun, activities and even friends you once thought were fun will appear very different to you in sobriety.
At first, you may feel like you’re missing out. But as time passes and your recovery strengthens, this feeling changes into something more like wondering why you ever thought that was fun.
You may end up changing friends, activities or both and find new friends and activities that you enjoy far more than your old drinking and using days ever gave you – without the gnarly consequences.
We have some suggestions to help get you started and on the road to happiness and fun!
Reframing Your Definition of Fun
For many recovering addicts, it is necessary and helpful to reframe your core beliefs about what fun is and is not. Particularly if you’re new to recovery, your brain is hard-wired to believe that fun involves drinking and using.
If that isn’t part of any activity, then it’s just not fun. In the beginning, changing this belief system can be challenging and requires a bit of creativity.
The first step is to make a list of all the negative consequences you experienced as a result of your addiction (aka “fun”). This will help you to develop a new perspective on your association between fun and drinking or using.
Was it fun to lose your job, your spouse, your kids, or your home? Was it fun to go into debt? Was it fun to be in court for a DUI? Or to be incarcerated?
Any consequences you suffered as a result of your addiction should be on the list. Hang the list up somewhere you will see it daily until you convince your mind that drinking and using isn’t worth the consequences which are certainly not fun!
Keep reading for more tools to reframe your definition of fun and set your brain on the right track!
Exploring Your True Self – What Gives You Joy and Happiness?
For some who are new to recovery and even those who have been in a recovery program for a while, you may find that you are out of touch with what you like.
Some are challenged even to know what their favorite color is much less fun thing to do that doesn’t involve drinking or using!
Why is this? Usually, the same suppression or inability to cope with stress (a low-stress tolerance level) may also be associated with a failure to get in touch with or process your feelings.
This can extend to feelings about everything, including your likes and dislikes.
One tool for discovering what you truly enjoy doing is to spend some time remembering what you liked to do as a child.
Was it singing and dancing? Playing a sport? Going camping? Coloring or drawing? Arts and crafts?
Is it being the class clown or the family comedian? What kind of games did you make up with your siblings and friends to play?
Go back to basics and explore these or related activities now to see if these are things you might still enjoy now that you’re older and wiser.
You may be surprised at how much fun you have just by looking into this!
For instance, if you loved to go to the zoo or playing with your dog, you may enjoy volunteering at an animal shelter or the zoo or getting a pet of your own to enjoy.
Make a List and Have It Ready
It’s so important in recovery to use the tool of pre-prepared lists for different situations, so when the disease starts talking in your ear or trying to take over your thinking, you can look at your lists to help bring you back into right-minded thinking.
Having a list of clean and sober fun activities can become one of those critical lists to keep handy, hang on a wall or the fridge to prevent you from being tempted to go hang out with friends who use or drink when you’re craving a good time.
So, take the time to make a list of the things you already know you like to do either as a child from the previous exercise or just in general that don’t involve using or drinking.
If you get stuck, reach out to your addiction counselor, sponsor, or a fellow in recovery for help making your list.
Ideally, you want to have as many ideas as possible on the list but no less than 10 to start.
This will give you a variety to choose from based on your mood, time available, weather, and all sorts of factors that might play into what you decide to pick for a fun activity at that moment.
When you’re feeling left out not going to a party with your old drinking and using buddies, pull out this list, pick something, and do it.
The more you practice having fun without drugs and alcohol, the more comfortable and natural it will become for you and eventually you will have forgotten all about the party that you’re “missing out on.”
You can expand your list as time goes and you learn more and more about your likes and dislikes by actually trying things out.
Try New Activities: Meetup is Your Friend
I can remember when I was a kid on summer vacation on a rainy day complaining to my mother that I was bored. Her reply? “Find something to do, or I will find something for you like cleaning the bathroom!”
I never left it to her to find something for me to do; it forced me to get creative, think outside the box, and be willing to try something new.
When you’re newly clean and sober, it’s kind of like that too; you need to think outside the box and become willing to try new things and meet new people.
You may be afraid or concerned that you won’t be able to find any cool people who don’t use drugs or at least drink.
You would be very wrong about that! There are lots of people recovering from addiction in the same boat as you, looking for like-minded people to do fun activities with.
Most everyone now knows about the MeetUp app that contains a listing of groups and their activities you can join and attend based on common interests.
But did you know that there are a lot of groups on the app that just for clean and sober peeps?
And they have sober groups centered around all kinds of fun activities from sailing and surfing to music and other creative outlets.
Just search the app for “sober” or “alcohol and drug-free” and you’ll find plenty of people just like you! FaceBook is another excellent way to meet clean and sober people to hang out with – tons of groups and activities available from which to choose.
Just be willing to try something new and meet new people, and you will be on your way to finding clean and sober fun!
Avoid Activities Where Drugs and Alcohol Will Be Used
This may seem obvious – to avoid parties and other activities, such as going to see a band play in a bar that could put you in close proximity to drugs or alcohol – but you’d be surprised.
Many addicts, whether new to recovery or not, have had those disease-driven thoughts creep in that tell you it’s perfectly ok for you to go to that party or see that band play in the bar; you’re in recovery, you can handle it.
Make no bones about it, that’s the disease of addiction talking!
If you could handle it, if self-will could prevent you from using or drinking, you would have never ended up in recovery in the first place.
Better to choose activities from that clean and sober activities list you have prepared ahead of time and protect your sobriety and clean time, call your counselor, sponsor, or a fellow to talk some sense back into you.
Remember, without sobriety, and clean time, the fun is over, so maintaining these must always be your priority.
Adrenaline Producing Activities Are Not Part of Sober Living
It may be tempting to engage in extreme sports, amusement parks, and other intense activities that produce a big adrenaline rush.
These types of activities for someone in addiction recovery are to be avoided as much as activities that involve using or drinking.
Why? Because the high you get off the drag racing, sky diving, roller coaster, and the like mimic the high you got when you were using or drinking, producing a similar chemical reaction in the body and brain, and can be addictive in and of themselves.
It’s the same reason we recommend quitting smoking as part of recovery and avoiding large amounts of sugar and caffeine in the diet as well. Moreover, the adrenaline rush, or high, they provide can be a gateway into relapse with drugs and alcohol.
The goal is to have fun in recovery, absolutely, but not to jeopardize your recovery in the process.
Staying with fun activities that lack this type of adrenaline rush is strongly advised to help you maintain sobriety and the peace and serenity that result.
Avoid Isolating: Get Out and Do Something
No matter what activities you choose to do to have some clean and sober fun, make sure at least some of them include other healthy people.
Isolation is a huge part of the disease of addiction, and it is paramount to your recovery that you get out and do something, anything healthy, to connect with others.
Meetings and support groups are a key to stop isolating, and it is also essential to add fun activities outside of these to start reframing your thinking around the definition of fun and to ensure that you don’t fall into a common trap of making meetings your only social life.
This might be what you need in the very early stages of your recovery, but once you’ve passed that mark, it’s essential to develop friendships and have fun as part of your recovery process and learning to live a full and happy life.
All Aboard The Fun Train!
As you can see by now, although some consideration needs to be taken with regards to the types of activities and people you choose to hang out with and enjoy doing in recovery, there are an endless amount of ways to have healthy fun.
With a little soul-searching, willingness to discover yourself, desire to meet new people and try new things, you may find that you can have real fun for the first time in your entire life (or at least since you were a little kid!)
Regardless of your circumstances, being clean and sober can equal fun. Even if you’re still dealing with possible financial ramifications, you can find fun things to do that don’t have to cost a lot of money.
You can do it; you deserve to have fun! You don’t have to feel condemned to a life of drudgery as penance for the mistakes you made during the height of your addiction.
You get to start over; you get another chance to do things differently, regardless of past mistakes.
So, get out there, meet people, do something, and have a great time, the clean and sober way!
Our Recovery Center has talented and skilled professionals that understand boredom and how it impacts on the recovery and treatment of addicts. They can help you add some fun into the struggle with your recovery efforts and to understand how to improve your recovery and treatment life.
If you need help with 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 all of your questions regarding addiction recovery and treatment. Call anytime.
Chateau Recovery Center
375 Rainbow Lane
Midway, UT 84049, USA
Phone: +1 435-654-1082
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.
If you or someone you love has questions concerning the rehabilitation process, call our free helpline Phone: +1 888-971-2986 for more information. Calls are always confidential, private, and secure.
Beat the boredom: Why having fun is key for your addiction recovery
Learning how to have fun without drugs and alcohol is key to a successful long-term recovery. This video explains the struggle with boredom and gives some tips how to implement fun activities into your day-to-day sober life.
Having Fun in Recovery
“… we aren’t a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn’t want it.
We absolutely insist on enjoying life.”*