Content reviewed by Karen Rubenstein, LMFT
Recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) is a lifelong journey. While the first step in the journey requires individuals to become sober, recovery is a process that takes time. There is no question that becoming sober is a challenge for many; however, most people recognize maintaining their long-term sobriety to be the most difficult part of recovery.
One of the many ways that individuals can work to maintain their recovery is by engaging in healthy hobbies. While there is plenty of opportunity to learn new hobbies during inpatient treatment, many individuals find more availability in their schedules as they transition to sober living post-treatment. It can be incredibly valuable to learn about new hobbies for sober living, as hobbies can help individuals sustain sobriety and ultimately prevent relapse.
Addiction Recovery Is a Process
As mentioned earlier, recovery is a life-long process that starts with treatment. Every person seeking recovery will enter treatment at the level of care that is deemed necessary for their specific needs and goals. Some individuals who struggle with extreme triggers, cravings and withdrawals may start treatment with inpatient rehabilitation. Others with less severe symptoms may begin their recovery journey in an outpatient program.
It is important to understand that individuals do not enter treatment solely based on the severity of their symptoms. Another reason why an individual may utilize an inpatient program when they first enter treatment is that they need a stable and supportive living situation. Many people who begin treatment and recovery do not have a safe or healthy environment to return home to after receiving services throughout the day. Inpatient programs offer a safe healing environment for individuals, free from substances and other environmental triggers.
The Value of Sober Living Homes
Similar to, but at a lower level of care than inpatient programs, sober living homes are alcohol- and drug-free living environments. They are often used when individuals are transitioning from an inpatient to an outpatient program or when an individual is utilizing outpatient services but is unable to live at home or because their home environment is not conducive to recovery.
These homes provide an opportunity for individuals to restore accountability and responsibility as they transition back to everyday life. They also provide a supportive community where individuals can lean on other residents who are also working to maintain sobriety.
The Importance of Hobbies in Addiction Recovery
Whether an individual is just beginning treatment or has just transitioned into a sober living home, it is never the wrong time to consider new and healthy hobbies. Hobbies remain a vital asset of a successful recovery for several reasons. The following list outlines some of these important reasons.
Hobbies fill one’s newfound downtime.
Individuals who are establishing their sobriety must work to fill the downtime that had been previously spent on using alcohol and other drugs. Engaging in hobbies can prevent one from slipping back into old habits when one has time to fill.
Hobbies retrain the brain’s reward system.
Much of the recovery process is spent retraining one’s brain and bringing the brain’s reward system back to a normal balance. Healthy hobbies can help retrain dopamine and serotonin in the brain, bringing back joy and pleasure from simple activities.
Hobbies can be a healthy way to cope with stress and adversity.
Stress and adversity are a part of life. Before recovery, individuals may have turned to alcohol and other drugs to cope with these feelings. However, in recovery, individuals must work to find healthy coping mechanisms for navigating stress when it arises. Engaging in hobbies can do just that.
Hobbies can encourage new connections.
Substance use tends to bring on feelings of isolation and loneliness. During recovery, new connections need to be established. Healthy hobbies can foster social connections and relationships, which are key components for lasting sobriety.
Fun, Healthy and Sober Hobbies for those in Addiction Recovery
Some people may feel lost when they consider trying new hobbies, especially during recovery. The good news is that there are endless hobbies one can choose from. Here are just a few examples of hobbies to try:
- Take an exercise class
- Go horseback riding
- Join a club team or sports league
- Try yoga
- Hike a nearby trail
- Research local volunteer opportunities
- Attend a sober gathering
- Find a book club
- Go to the dog park
- Organize a game night with your friends
- Take a self-defense class
- Try an escape room
- Go to a live music or sports event
- Become a food critique and try new restaurants with your friends
- Try a new recipe
- Start a gratitude journal
- Explore your creativity through painting or drawing
- Listen to a new podcast
- Take an online class
- Plant a garden
- Engage in mindfulness meditation
- Explore nature
- Plan a trip somewhere
- Learn to play cards
- Read a new book
- Learn to play an instrument
- Reorganize a room in your home
Above all, it is vital to honor one’s personal triggers when working to engage in new and healthy hobbies throughout recovery. Still, hobbies are meant to be a fun and exciting part of the recovery journey. Participating in hobbies not only helps prevent relapse but also helps bring deeper meaning and purpose to one’s recovery as a whole.
Authentic Recovery Center (ARC) is a mental health and addiction treatment facility that recognizes the value of engaging in new and healthy hobbies throughout addiction recovery. We can help you transition out of treatment back into society with ease as you seek new hobbies to deepen the meaning and purpose of your sobriety. To learn more about our treatment programs or about how hobbies positively impact recovery, call us today at (866) 786-1376.