Understanding Which Activities Work For Your Recovery
For nearly 10 years, JoJo Campbell’s idea of fun involved being drunk or high. As a teenager, she struggled with an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Almost every time she went to work, drove her car or went to the gym, she was under the influence.
“Anything I did, alcohol or drugs were always present,” said Campbell, who has been in recovery for 15 months, “I just drank and then f–ked around, and found myself either in jail, knocked out or passed out somewhere. It wasn’t a lot of fun, looking back. It was just a lot of craziness that my brain thought was fun in the moment.”
Like many people in recovery, it took Campbell several months to feel comfortable being in situations where people were drinking alcohol. She needed time to learn how to deal with cravings and triggers and understand what strategies worked for her. Recovery doesn’t disqualify you from going to a party, game or concert, if those are activities you enjoy. However, it’s important to create a new definition of what’s fun for you when substance use isn’t involved.
“People need to remember that we can still have fun even though we’re sober,” Campbell said. “I’ve had more fun being sober than I ever did being drunk or high. I can remember things, I’m actually present. I remember the laughter and the joy that I feel, and I don’t make a freaking fool out of myself.”
Have a Purpose, Plan
Once you make the decision to make a recovery from substance use, a lot of things will change. Coming out of a residential addiction treatment program, you’ll find yourself tested. But armed with the confidence, strategies and rediscovery of who you are, you’ll have the tools needed to avoid a relapse.
You’ll spend time identifying triggers or things that may provoke cravings for drugs or alcohol. Friends may shy away from asking you to hang out. You may decide it’s better to avoid the people you used to drink or do drugs with.
You might also have to deal with the pressure to drink alcohol or use drugs in order to have fun in social settings. The reality is that alcohol is widely available and many people drink when they go out.
Campbell, now a social media coordinator at Landmark Recovery, realized it’s possible to have fun without being under the influence of a substance. She’s also reached a point in her recovery where she feels comfortable going places where people might be drinking alcohol. Campbell discovered that a key strategy was finding purpose in the places she goes and the choices she makes when she gets there. She also has a plan for if a situation starts to get out of hand.
“I think people who are newly sober think that their whole life stops, that they can never go back out again, they have to live in isolation,” Campbell said. “You do get to a place in your sobriety where you can be around alcohol and go out, and do things and not be so tempted to drink. As long as you have a reason to be somewhere and you feel like you’re in a good spiritual place, go.”
Campbell explained that she often chooses not to carpool with friends to an event. This gives her a “backup plan” in case she finds herself in an uncomfortable situation. She’s not reliant on anyone else, doesn’t have to wait for a ride and can leave if she’s feeling triggered.
“I have gotten myself out of so many situations where I’m having a good time and it gets too rowdy, or something happens and I’m feeling a little uneasy,” she said. “I leave because I have my own car and I think that’s something so important.”
Related: Should I Tell Someone I’m Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol?
Find a “Sober” Support System
When you’re recovering from a drug or alcohol use disorder, it’s important to understand that your relationships might change. As a 25-year-old in recovery, Campbell said one of the challenges of recovery is being mindful of the people you surround yourself with as you search for meaningful, fun activities that don’t threaten your recovery.
“It does kind of suck because you have to get rid of a lot of your old friends,” she said. “They say, ‘New playground, new playmates.’ So, you really have to sometimes be okay with doing things alone and making peace with that, because you act like the people you’re around. I’m not going to stay sober if I’m hanging out with the same friends that I was partying with.”
Many addiction experts and people in recovery believe that the more you participate and engage in your recovery, the greater your chances are of sustaining long-term sobriety. It’s all about making smart, purposeful choices. That could include entering an intensive outpatient program after rehab, attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings or finding a sponsor to hold you accountable during your recovery.
“Going to an NA or an AA meeting is truly such a game changer,” Campbell said. “There’s always going to be someone there who, if you tell them that you’re new in recovery, they will come up to you and give you their number.”
Whichever route you choose on your journey, Campbell said cultivating a support system is one of the best ways to not only find fun things to do, but help you keep the ultimate goal in mind – maintaining your recovery.
“It’s scary to talk in meetings and go up and ask someone to be your sponsor and call people, but those things are so vital,” Campbell said. “They’ve definitely helped me get to the place where I am today. It is hard when you have to put in the work in the beginning. It makes it so much easier down the road to reach out to people.”
Remember That “Nothing Can Come Before Your Sobriety”
Inpatient rehab (residential treatment) facilities offer safe, structured and controlled environments for people struggling with substance abuse to learn how to live without drugs or alcohol. For some, the transition back home can present new and stressful scenarios that could lead to a relapse, which is normal for people in early recovery. Campbell said that when she’s trying to find fun and entertaining things she keeps her recovery journey in the back of her mind.
“Nothing can come before your sobriety,” she said. “Not a family member, not a friend, not a job. You just gotta’ be careful.”
Campbell explained how important it is to “pick and choose your battles” during recovery. She’s at a point where she can go out and have fun with friends and family and not feel tempted to drink or do drugs. Still, she has a good sense of when to remove herself from situations that could be triggering.
Looking for Activities to Stay in Recovery?
If you’ve reached the point in your journey where you feel comfortable getting out and trying new things, here are 20 activities to help maintain your recovery.
Still Have Questions?
You might be at a place in your journey where you’re thinking about addiction treatment options. We’re here to talk when you’re ready. If you or a loved one struggles with drugs or alcohol, call 888-448-0302 to talk to a recovery specialist at Landmark Recovery.
The confidential phone line is available 24/7. When you call, a team member can answer questions about recovery resources or guide you through our admissions process. Click here to see a full list of addiction treatment centers in your area.
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