Looking around pop culture, it can seem like fun is inextricably tied to drinking, partying, and even drug use. Once you’ve gone through treatment and are living in recovery, you realize that these activities might seem fun at the time, but they’re actually part of a pattern of self-destructive behavior.
So, what do you do when you realize that your so-called fun activities aren’t actually fun at all? You redefine what it means to have a good time, and set about building an enjoyable and entertaining life in sobriety.
Here are 10 ways to have fun in recovery:
- Change your idea of fun. For the past few years, your idea of fun might be tied to clubbing, drinking or getting “away from it all” through substance use. The first step to having fun in recovery is to realize that this was dangerous and unhealthy behavior. It’s okay to reflect on the good times you had — dancing with friends or trying a great new restaurant — but it’s important to remember the consequences your “fun” had as well —the hangovers and embarrassing moments that you’d rather not repeat. When you’re honest with yourself about how drinking and drunk use made you feel, you’ll be more apt to open your mind to new types of fun.
- Explore your old interests. Now that drinking and partying aren’t an option, think about what else you did for fun when you were using. Do you love to dance? Walk on the beach? Paint? It might take some digging, but there are activities other than partying that brought you joy in the past. Now is the time to tap into them.
- Find healthy, sober alternatives. There’s no need to ditch the things that brought you happiness in the past. Instead, find ways to enjoy them in a sober setting. If you enjoy live music, go to brunches or coffee-house shows rather than bars. If you want to dance, try sober dance clubs or even fitness dance classes.
- Try something new. While you’re reinventing your life, it’s the perfect time to try something new. Have you always wanted to learn to play the piano or kite surf? Treat yourself to lessons and give a new hobby a chance.
- Volunteer. Being of service is a key part of recovery, and it’s also a way to have healthy fun. When you volunteer, whether at an animal shelter, a local meeting, or a school, you’ll meet like-minded people and enjoy the satisfaction that comes with giving back to your community.
- Don’t overlook the quiet activities. When we think of fun, we tend to think of loud and thrilling activities, but sometimes spending quiet time by yourself can be just as enjoyable. Set up a puzzle table in your apartment, visit the library, or buy yourself a set of paints, and just enjoy the peace and contentment of your sober life.
- Travel. Exploring a new place is always exciting. This doesn’t have to be grand or expensive. You can simply spend an afternoon walking around a new part of town or driving to a hiking area that you haven’t explored. Along the way, take time to notice the new sights and sounds.
- Connect with the sober community. Surrounding yourself with other sober people is important, especially in early recovery. People who are also sober will understand how your idea of fun has changed and they’ll be happy to join in sober excursions. Meet people through local meetings, alumni events from your treatment center, or local sober meetups.
- Visit a mocktail bar. It’s a great time to be sober. There are more options than ever before, including pop-up bars that are dedicated solely to the mocktail. As long as you won’t find sipping a drink triggering, gather some friends and head out for an afternoon of good drinks and great conversation, with no risk of a hangover.
- Take a class. Chances are you might have flaked off in high school or college because of your substance use disorder. But learning, especially with no pressure, can be so much fun (with the added benefit of improving your skillset). Try a free community class in a subject you love, whether history, cooking, or coding!
Having fun in sobriety may involve expanding your comfort zone. It can be scary at first, but the rewards are worth it!