When I first came to the doorstep of recovery, I’d convinced myself I was never going to have fun again. I had spent years and years, day after day, chasing after “the next high,” having left far behind as a distant memory the time when a game of dodgeball at the playground or looking at books about lizards would be all I needed to have a truly satisfying afternoon.
During active addiction, my whole personality and character had shifted from those simple, enjoyable kinds of activity toward me finding and using alcohol and drugs to “have fun” — even though that kind of fun was almost always associated with risk-taking, potentially dangerous (and often law-breaking) behavior.
So, when I hit bottom and got into recovery for my “substance use disorder” (dependence on alcohol and/or drugs), I often felt lost and confused about how to have fun without drinking or drugs. Like many people in early recovery, I struggled from feeling a lack of adrenaline, like the thrill had gone out of my life, now that I was no longer “getting high.”
Fortunately, I met some people in recovery who said they could relate to me, but suggested if I keep an open mind toward learning new things, I could turn recovery into a life that included more enjoyment than I could imagine. And they were right!
One of the main keys to having fun in recovery is a little preparation. Be proactive and scout out whatever resources you can to find what sort of activities are available to you.
A good friend in recovery told me, “One of the best ways to get that feeling back is to participate in adventure sports. Activities like kayaking, mountain biking or even surfing are all good examples of sports that can offer a healthy way to get the adrenalin pumping and to satisfy your cravings for thrills.”
The point is: It’s up to you to get active, engaged and on the road to having fun.
If you like sports, consider joining any number of local leagues in your area. From softball to soccer to basketball, and more, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, groups of people are participating in sports of all kinds (while following recommended social distancing and mask-wearing protocols), any of which can meet your need for action and fun. You can also just contact some friends from a recovery meeting, or neighbors or family members, and start up a friendly game of the sport of your choice down at a local park.
Hobbies are another source of fun, which may have been grossly overlooked during our years spent trying to satisfy our cravings for alcohol or drugs. But once we’re in recovery, activities like photography, painting, playing a musical instrument or reading are all healthy hobbies we can turn to. Another option? Learn a new language and join an online Zoom club that practices speaking the language, while exploring the culture and traditions of the country (or countries) who speak that language.
If you’re handy with tools, learn to build a shelving unit, a birdhouse or something useful for your home or a loved one.
If arts and crafts interest you, try beading, knitting or T-shirt making. Do you like cooking? Delve into canning or go online to learn about making soup or some other healthy recipes.
Besides being able to YouTube it and learn something new online, there are literally countless online groups who hold online meetings about these hobbies and more! And all of these groups aim to have fun while “doing” their hobby!
If sports or hobbies don’t strike your fancy, you can always help someone, which oftentimes can turn out to be fun, if not just plain rewarding. Spend a day volunteering at a shelter or pitching in at a community event. Participate in a roadside cleanup or put in some time at a church that needs some help painting. A morning or afternoon spent helping others can include having fun, if you’re open to recalibrating what fun entails, what it’s all about.
Hopefully, you’ll discover, as I did, that having fun in recovery is not only possible, it’s in your hands! Adopting a new mindset takes time, certainly—but it starts with a choice you can make as part of your new life in recovery.