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How to Have Fun in Recovery

Updated on March 29th, 2021

Do you ever find yourself thinking, “Sober life is so boring!” If so, you’re not alone.

Many people fall prey to the myth that sober life is less fun and then end up falling back into a lifestyle of addiction because they don’t know how to deal with their boredom. Likewise, often, those with substance use disorders resist pursuing recovery because they assume that a sober life must necessarily be boring.

Understandably, the addiction may be contributing to such thinking, but it’s definitely incorrect to imagine that the only things that make life entertaining are drugs or alcohol. Having fun in recovery is possible!

Is Sobriety Boring?

Recovery indeed changes a lot of things. For starters, if you’re getting clean, you’re eliminating certain unhealthy behaviors that used to occupy a lot of your time. Without the previous habits to fill your day, and without the substance abuse to dominate your thinking, you may feel like there is a gaping hole in your life.

That “hole” is not really an empty space at all; it’s a huge opportunity to finally experience a full life.

The notion of an empty life in recovery is a myth. After leaving behind the substance that at one time may have been controlling your life, you will be able to see how it was really a hindrance, keeping you from so many good things.

It may take a while for you to realize, but there are many wonderful things to enjoy and many ways to experience a truly fulfilled life, without the help of any substance. In fact, there are many reasons to love sobriety. Here are just a few.

  • You get to live life in the moment. If you’re always drunk or high, you miss out on being mindful and living every single moment of life. When you’re sober, you have a clear mind, your memories aren’t foggy, and you won’t feel like your life is just passing you by.
  • You develop authentic relationships. When you’re addicted, it’s hard (if not impossible) to establish healthy and authentic relationships because substance abuse always gets in the way. But when you’re sober, you finally get to enjoy and experience real relationships that are founded on mutual respect and other interests that don’t involve drinking or using drugs.
  • No more awful hangover symptoms. Without blackouts and hangovers, you don’t have to wake up and wonder what you did last night or who you were with. You also don’t have to deal with miserable hangover symptoms like headaches, vomiting, and nausea, which can make going to work or school nearly impossible.
  • You’ll have the tools to deal with stress and anxiety. Alcohol and drugs reduce your ability to deal with stress. But without those substances clouding your mind, you’ll be better able to manage stress and respond appropriately. If you complete a rehab program to get sober, you’ll also gain life skills and strategies for dealing with stress, anxiety, and other challenging aspects of life that are more difficult to manage when you’re drunk or high.
  • You won’t feel ashamed or suffer from self-hate anymore. Many people who suffer from addiction deal with a lot of shame and self-loathing caused by their behavior. Along with sobriety comes the gradual ability to love yourself again, let go of all the shame, and deal with the uncomfortable feelings you previously masked with drugs or alcohol.

Why Is Boredom a Bad Thing?

Boredom may not seem like it’s that big of a deal, but in sobriety, it can be the difference between life and death. A few of the primary reasons boredom can be dangerous in recovery include:

  • Relapse: During the transition to sobriety, with large amounts of free time suddenly available, boredom can ensue and relapse is a potential risk.1
  • Emotional turmoil: Boredom can lead to depression, anger, and bitterness. This emotional shift often produces thinking that sobriety is not everything it was supposed up to be. This can start the process of justification for using just one more time.
  • Poor mental health: High levels of boredom have been associated with a variety of negative behaviors and adverse mental health effects. These include anxiety, hopelessness, loneliness, impulsiveness, academic failure, and occupational dissatisfaction and absenteeism. In fact, some initial evidence has been uncovered which suggests that chronic boredom may even be bad for our physical health.1

How to Deal With Boredom In Recovery

So, how do you stay busy and not drink?

The dangerous reality of boredom in recovery highlights the need to have fun in recovery to avoid an increased chance of relapsing. It’s also important to do things that are productive and fun to fill the gap left by previous unhealthy activities.

Sometimes, it can be challenging to get started by identifying things that you enjoy doing and can afford. Whether you’re thinking, “What can I do instead of drinking at night?” or you’re just struggling to come up with hobbies and activities you might enjoy, we promise, the effort will be well worth it. It will be like a new adventure discovering yourself all over again or finding new interests you never considered before.

Far from being bored or feeling empty, once you get underway with your new life and new pursuits, you may be surprised to find there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything you want to do!

How Do You Have Fun While Sober? 23 Ways to Have Fun In Recovery

Having fun in recovery isn’t as difficult as you might think, especially if you have a group of sober friends who are re-discovering life sober alongside you. As you find new ways to keep yourself busy, it’s a good idea to try several different activities and hobbies. Whether you hope to rekindle an old passion or try something entirely new, there are plenty of excellent options that can help you keep your schedule full and your sobriety on track.

To get you thinking about the possibilities, here are a few ways to have fun in recovery:

  • Take an evening class
  • Bake or cook something elaborate
  • Volunteer
  • Go to the library
  • Visit the art museum
  • Go bowling
  • Make a bucket list
  • Learn to play an instrument
  • Take an outdoor yoga class

Are you newly sober in Austin, TX? Below are a few random ideas for fun things to do in the Austin area. Maybe one or more will catch your fancy and give you a chance to do something unexpected.

  • Pack a picnic and head to the gorgeous natural swimming grotto, Hamilton Pool.
  • Watch 1.5 million bats emerge from underneath the Congress Bridge at dusk.
  • Explore thousands of unique and strange items at the South Congress Store of Unusual Items.
  • Hike up beautiful Mount Bonnell and observe the gorgeous vistas.
  • Feed the ducks, swans, and geese along the Lady Bird Lake Bike and Hike Trail.
  • Explore the eerie beauty and natural wonder of the Longhorn Caves.
  • See a show or blockbuster movie at the historic Paramount Theatre.

If you’re newly sober in Houston, TX, here are some ways you can have fun in recovery around the city.

  • Browse the art at The Menil Collection (it’s free!).
  • Bike along the Buffalo Bayou.
  • Have a picnic at Discovery Green.
  • Take a walking tour at Rice University.
  • Meditate or worship at Rothko Chapel.
  • Check out the Water Wall at the Houston Galleria.
  • Catch a show at the Miller Outdoor Theatre.

These are only suggestions and don’t even include possibilities like getting started on a new exercise program, rock climbing, trying your hand at drawing or painting, or countless other pursuits. Remember, you’re free to explore your own interests. After all, the time regained in recovery is your time!

References:

  1. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-science-of-boredom/

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